“When we stand, they fall. When we sit, they crumble. When we walk, they shiver. And when we sleep, they whirl… Face the wall, your back to the window, look through the window while waiting for the sun to shine again, waiting for us to appear again… then we can mingle with the Zebra stripes on the pedestrian crossing, and melt in the gray asphalt of the road, lest a car drives over them. But we never wait. We crawl in between the cars, and dance on the zebra crossing. By the time we make it to the other side of the road, they are finished. They change names and colors, and melt in the dark night. But we are still alive. Far from the gray human world, we turn the wheel of life; we live and grow in our pitch black world.”
I was at a foot bridge and I was taking a picture from up there (pointing to photo) shooting people passing in the street. My camera was confused between which angle is the right one. I chose this one. Why? Because when you rotate the picture you give the story to shadows. And shadows will tell the whole story of the picture. And when the shadow is telling the story, it’s like a new life, like a parallel life. This is the story of shadows.
If you see in reality, the guy is in front of the children and woman. He doesn’t care about the woman. But she, with her kid, is the tallest one in the shadows and is the main person in my picture. Which I love to have this in the culture of Iran, because in Iran the man is the main person. But here, because of the shadow, we have a different story. We have equality.
When you’re taking photos like this are you positioning yourself in a strange way to take them?
No, it’s a normal shot. As I said, when I first take a picture my camera was confused between which angle is the right one. Because when you take a picture from above the camera is confused because it doesn’t know which way is the right direction so you have to direct it. For this series I directed it to be this way.
So you oriented the camera to do this sideways, upside down shot.
So it’s not that you took this great shot and just hung the picture upside down, it was taken as it is seen on the wall?
Where is the location?
It’s in my hometown, Isfahan.
When you were taking photos were you looking for shadows more than you were looking for subjects?
It was 100% that. And most of my pictures in the series happened in the winter and close to the sunset, because in winter we have a longer shadow, and close to the sunset we have even longer shadows. And I know myself as a hunter photographer. For example, a hunter who wants to hunt a lion knows where he has to go to find the lion. And for my Shadow series I really did the same as a hunter. So I have an idea of what I’m going to do today. I was going there and I was waiting there for maybe an hour or so taking so many pictures until the thing that was in my mind happened. I hunt that moment. Why? Because I believe if I do staged photography, if I say, “Hey lady, you stay here,” it’s not realistic. It’s like a synthetic flower that you don’t like and you throw it away. So to me I never did any stage. I never put any person in my work.
It’s quite beautiful, the texture of the asphalt.
I was in Tabriz. Because it gets very cold and warm, there are a lot of cracks in the asphalt. And they don’t do the whole thing, they just come and fill the cracks with some other asphalt, which is like a painting. They really paint on the ground. It’s so beautiful. It’s not in this picture, but it’s in another in this series.
What you just described it’s like filling in negative space, which also goes along with how you use negative space and positive forms in your work.
That’s true, that’s totally right. The thing is, to me, shadows, it’s more simple. And the people now will love to see simple things first. Because I believe Instagram you can see lots of beautiful pictures. And eyes of the people are getting more sensitive and they can see the difference between the good picture and the bad picture even though they don’t study art. I believe the simple things get the more attention than the crazy and different texture.
One of the things I wanted to ask you because it seems to be a common technique in another one of your works. Is the work called the Pink Mosque?
In that photograph the forms are also reversed.
So the reverse has several meanings to me. The first one was when I was child my favorite sport was gymnastics. I love the pose of handstanding, especially walking on my hands. I was always fascinated about seeing everything upside down because of two things: parallel life and a new life. Most people when they’re standing in front of my work they love to rotate their head. Because they want to have their routine rules. But who made the rules? We the people made the rules. I try to have my own rules in the pictures. As I said, the first thing was handstanding and walking on my hands. The other thing, I love breaking rules. I really know the rules, but I love to break them and make my own rules. And this is my rules. So if you want to see my work you have to see new world. You have to have a little hard time to see new world.
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