The photographs from the Stateless series show scenes of departure and exile fluctuating between the absurd and the dramatic, which instantly create a compassionate relation to their protagonists. There is a particular atmosphere in these images, emanating from the encounter of the situation exhibited and the context in which it takes place, written like an “enigmatic tale” with roots in the artist’ own experience. Indeed, they contain a very autobiographical element: the artist grew up during the Iran-Iraq war, and his family was forced to move from Southern Iran to the North, a forced departure and a childhood in times of war that an entire generation, that of Gohar Dashti, can never for- get. This series, of which two photographs are presented here, was created in Qeshm, an Iranian island in the Persian Gulf that possesses a particularly impressive landscape of rocks and canyons, a landscape that reinforces the work’s symbolic and dramaturgical character, highlighting the way the body of the refugee is projected in the midst of an arid and exogenous environment.
Born 1980 in Ahvaz, Iran, Gohar Dashti lives and works in Tehran. Gohar Dashti received her M.A. in photography from the Art University of Tehran in 2005. For the past 15 years she has been making large scale photography with a particular focus on social issues. Her work references history and contemporary culture, as well as the convergence of anthropological and sociological perspectives; employing a unique, quasi-theatrical aesthetic, she brings to bear a diverse intellectual and cultural experience to illuminate and elaborate upon her perception of the world around her. In her most recent works, Dashti has explored, through her highly stylized, densely poetic observations of human and plant-life, the innate kinship between the natural world and human migrations. Fascinated with human-geographical narratives and their interconnection to her own personal experiences, Gohar Dashti believes that nature is what connects her to the multiple meanings of ‘home’ and ‘displacement’, both as conceptual abstractions, and as concrete realities that delineate and contour our existence. The result is a series of quirky landscapes and portraits, as lush as they are arch, inciting questions about the immense, variegated, border-eschewing reach of nature – immune to cultural and political divisions – and the ways in which immigrants inevitably search out and reconstruct familiar topographies in a new, ostensibly foreign land.