Iran,une revolution photographique
This was the title of an exhibition organized by the Electricité de France Foundation and the cultural section of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Held in cooperation with the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, this exhibition ran from June 21, 2001 at the Espace Electra Museum, Paris, and I was present as its coordinator. The initial selection of photographs was undertaken by Ms. Michket Krifa, a famous figure in French photographic circles. After seeing the works of Iranian photographers, Ms. Krifa, together with the museum’s artistic council, came to the conclusion that the outlook of Iranian photographers living in Iran or abroad had undergone a tremendous evolution in the past two decades; and this had been the reason which had prompted her to hold this exhibition. After being chosen as the coordinator of the participating Iranian photographers, I had the announcement of the exhibition printed in the magazine ‘Aks (Photo). In the short time available, the photographers promptly sent us their works on CDs, in small formats, and even as photocopies.
Following an initial selection by Michket Krifa, the photographs were sent to the artistic council of the Paris Museum for final selection. The selection criteria, as had been previously agreed, would be based on global standards of photography. My aim was to ensure that the photographs were evaluated and selected from a cultural and not political viewpoint. Thus the final selection was more a display of technical skill in photography than trite emotional subjects and clichéd political statements.
The exhibition was comprised of three sections: Creative Photography, Documentary Photography and Photojournalism. Thus, areas of the history of Iranian photography which had hitherto remained hidden were put on display. Even if we had been prepared to spend millions of dollars, we could never have exhibited photographs of the Iran-Iraq War or the Islamic Revolution at the Paris Museum. Yet the Mayor of Paris, who rarely attends gallery openings, inaugurated this exhibition. Upon his invitation, the Iranian ambassador and cultural attaché also attended. The four-storey Electra building was completely filled with an audience including many artists and members of the press. According to experts, artists and critics, the event was an unprecedented success.
Iranian photojournalism is fortunately of a very high quality, and Iran can be considered as one of the top ten ranking countries in this field. In documentary style photography however, our