TrAIN Open Lecture: Dr Azadeh Fatehrad - Photography, Desire and Resistance in the Lives of Women, Following the 1979 Revolution in Iran

Open Lecture


Zaban-e- Zanan (Women’s voice), Azadeh Fatehrad, Still From Single Channel Video, London, 2016.

In the history of Iran, the female body has been a site of enforcement twice in the last century, specifically with the Act of Unveiling which happened during the last monarchy in 1936 and, in contrast, the Act of Covering brought about by the Islamic Republic in 1979 in post-revolutionary Iran. The feminist movement in Iran however is not concerned with tradition versus modernity; indeed, modernity and tradition complement each other. The movement follows a fluid and yet permanent structure since early 20th century. In ‘Photography, Desire and Resistance in the Lives of Women, Following the 1979 Revolution in Iran’, Fatehrad is looking at the object of repression (the veil) in the history of Iran through a perspective of ‘indirection’, i.e. from a particular position of fascination and envy, She is suggesting a dimension of beauty and desire. Even though for her Western readers it might be more comfortable were to follow the familiar discourse of condemning the hijab and standing defiantly against the compulsory dress code, but the specific aim of Fatehrad’s research is to explore the affective and imaginary dimensions of the acts of covering and uncovering. The constant duality, constant barrier, and notion of individuality are featured in her ongoing practice- based research.

Dr. Azadeh Fatehrad (b.1981, Tehran) is an artist and curator based in London. Her research engages with the feminist history of Iran from 1909 to the present. Her projects explore still and moving image archives investigating the ways in which the feminist movement has been expanded among urban middle class women in her home country of Iran. Fatehrad’s research, artistic and curatorial practice are intertwined around a process of gathering information and generating new imagery in response to archival material she discovers. Fatehrad has made extensive use of archival material including those held at the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main; the International Institute of Social History (IISH), Amsterdam; and the Institute for Iranian Contemporary Historical Studies (IICHS), Tehran. This allowed her to develop new insights into Iran’s Women’s Movement and devise a related series of public programmes including exhibitions, conferences and workshops.

As part of her research, Fatehrad has curated a series of public programmes, symposiums and exhibitions, including the recent exhibition, ‘Hengameh Golestan: Witness 1979’ at The SHOWROOM London, as well as ‘The Feminist Historiography’ at IASPIS, Stockholm. She has presented academic papers at a variety of conferences and symposiums, such as ‘The Neo-traditionalist: Representation of women in post-revolutionary Iran’, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; ‘Communal Social and Inter-Political Stage of Curatorial Practice’, Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; ‘Moving Pictures and Photoplays: New Perspectives in Silent Cinema’ at the University of York; and ‘Challenging Gender, Embracing Intersectionality’ at Kingston University, London . Fatehrad has exhibited her work internationally in London, Vancouver, New York and Tehran.