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Images from the Shadi Ghadirian workshop at the Omid Foundations IMAGES FROM THE SHADI GHADIRIAN WORKSHOP AT THE OMID FOUNDATIONS



Images from the Shadi Ghadirian workshop at the Omid Foundations

ALL IMAGES Š Omid Foundations, 2012 ALL TEXT Š Authors DESIGN Valiya Vali & Bondar P. Azad First edition published in 2012 Published by the Omid Foundations All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. A full CIP record for this book is available from the British Library. A full CIP record of this book is also available from the Library of Congress.

Starting in 2007 the Omid Foundations have used participatory photography workshops as a therapeutic tool in their three year holistic empowerment program for marginalized young women in Iran. We chose photography because it is a highly flexible tool that crosses cultural barriers and can be adapted to all abilities. Its power lies in its dual role as an art form and a means to record facts. It provides an accessible way to define realities, communicate perspectives and raise awareness of important social issues. Most importantly it enables the photographers to embark on a voyage of self-discovery and get in touch with themselves and finding a voice for expressing feelings and thoughts that may have been hidden from view for many years. The observations of filmmaker and photographer Abbas Kiarostami about the photographs emerging out of the Omid photography workshops, captures for me the true purpose of these projects: “The young women at Omid who create these images have succeeded where many fail. They have stepped out of their own selves and come one step closer to absorbing their surroundings by learning how to “see” better and thus see things that are invisible to most. The goal of one who tries to capture images with a camera should not necessarily be to become a master photographer but to learn how to see and observe; and thus understand. What could be more important in our voyage of self-discovery? This is where these young photographers succeed and this is why they need to be applauded.” Our latest workshop “Voices of the Other Half”, which

is being presented to you here, is the brainchild of Shadi Ghadirian. Shadi spent seven months with eleven of the young Omid women and helped them to explore the idea of what it means to be a woman! I find the photographs extremely touching. All eleven photographers have managed to engage in life outside of their own, and to observe and frame reality with a whole new eye. It is interesting that some of them used photography as an art form while others used their cameras as journalists who record facts. We are most indebted to Shadi for her endless devotion to this project and for opening the gates of a new world for some of the young women in our care, to Valiya Vali and Bondar P. Azad for designing the exhibition catalogue, to Roxana Moradi for project management at Omid, to Ali Bakhtiari for project management in Dubai, to Ramin Salsali and The Salsali Private Museum for hosting the exhibition in Dubai, to Fabio & Anna Maria and Rossi&Rossi for hosting the exhibition in London, and to Shirley Elghanian and Magic of Persia for being our partner in this project. The photographs will be on sale at the venues and online. All proceeds go towards the funding of our future photography workshops. Marjaneh Halati The Omid Foundations


I am not a teacher to teach you how to love fish need no teacher to learn how to swim and birds need no teacher to learn how to fly swim by yourself fly by yourself love has no notebooks and the greatest lovers in history never knew how to read Nezar Towfigh Ghabbani (1923-1988)


Working with a group of eleven girls at Omid was certainly an experience I will cherish forever. The way we worked together and the bonds we formed brought about a lot of reflection and changed us all; each one in a different way. They tackled all the different subject matters which we selected with an ease and comfort that was quite remarkable. It all came so natural to them. During the first few sessions, we got to know each other better, while at the same time I tried to expose them to the power of the image and the different ways in which one could express oneself through photography. Every one of them eventually found a visual language with which she was comfortable with. I was fascinated to see this process evolve. Our main focus was to look at the place of women in Iranian society, how they see themselves and how others see them. After much discussion each of the girls chose a theme that was close to her heart and interests, which they wanted to express through a visual language rather than through words. They all played around with ideas until they

felt that they had developed a voice and were able to tell a story with images. Photos were taken and discussions were held about the different ways that a photographer can talk through images. Within the context of our general themes of gender and gender identity, each girl narrowed down her focus and identified a project to embark on. Some were more interested to document the realities surrounding them, while others wanted to capture an abstract thought or use images as symbols. Noushin showcases her sister’s life by focusing on her hands, which she believes play a central role in her life. Forouzan’s dark silhouettes of the persons she photographs makes you wonder whether they are present or absent. Marzieh talks about motherhood, what it means to be a mother and the ever-present presence of children in a mother’s life. With Farzaneh’s woman with the red ribbon, one never knows whether her ribbon is a fashion statement or something that binds her hands and feet, as if it were a threat to her freedom. Samira works all day and can hardly find time to take pictures, so she decides to hang her camera around her neck and take pictures about the routine of everyday life. At the end however, she realizes that routine aspects of life tell a story of their own and are not as boring as one might think. Dolls are Maliheh’s choice, she shows us how much she despises a “doll-like life”. Simin on the other hand believes that women should

always wear make-up and be presentable in public. Her photographs depict appearance conscious women and men who want to “look their best”. Fereshteh portrays women playing with curtains, seeing them as the hejabs of our homes. Nadia’s star is her younger sister. The sister is so natural and at ease in front and with the camera; that Nadia firmly believes that her younger sister will one day either become a successful photographer or model. Elham photographs the silhouette of women who seem to be hiding behind white sheets, busy with their daily chores. Setareh once took pictures of her pregnant sister. Here she shows the mother and baby together, like two inseparable earthly angels. And this is how the project “Voices of the Other Half” came to be, and how it gave a voice to some of the invisible halves of our society and made them more visible. Shadi Ghadirian



Maliheh Ghaznavian “Barbie”

Why would anyone want to look like Barbie? Don’t they see how demeaning it is? Why do some women make such fools of themselves?


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Cat. 2


Cat. 3


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Elham Aghiani “Shadows”

Women are God’s chosen creatures. Their essence transcends all appearances and reflects what it means to be a mother, a wife, or a daughter …


Cat. 6

Cat. 7


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Cat. 10


Marzieh Mohammadi “Motherhood�

And life goes on! Inseparable mothers and children.


Cat. 11


Cat. 12


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Cat. 15


Nadia Parvani “My Little Sister Elaheh�

This little girl loves being both in front and behind the camera. Am not sure whether she wants to be Avedon or Bardot.


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Cat. 20


Simin Moadab “Beauty”

The beauty of women! It is like a rose without its thorns. It is like morning dew on grass. It is like the wings of butterflies. Why wouldn’t you want to show it all?


Cat. 21


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Farzaneh Mahmoodi “The Red Trace�

Lost in ones own solitude, a solitude where you might not even recognize or see yourself, but where there is the beauty of silence.


Cat. 26


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Fereshteh Ebrahimi “Hidden Faces�

Why do women hide their faces? Does it give them a feeling of privacy? Is privacy that important? Have we now even made curtains the hejabs of our homes?


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Setareh Sadri “Angels of this World�

Mothers and daughters in their earthly paradise.


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Cat. 40


Samira Razi “My Life�

Every picture tells a story. It is pictures of the ordinary that reveal the true stories of our lives.


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Forouzan Parvani “Black, Black, Black�

Overwhelming darkness! Are we all hiding from something? How does one find the way out of this darkness without getting absorbed by it?


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Cat. 50


Noushin Norouzi “Aspiration”

The woman with the magic hands, beautifying the world around her.


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Cat. 55

Shadi Ghadirian

Farzaneh Mahmoodi

Forouzan Parvani

Elham Aghiani

Simin Moadab

Nadia Parvani

Fereshteh Ebrahimi

Marzieh Mohammadi

Samira Razi

Maliheh Ghaznavian

Noushin Norouzi

Setareh Sadri


Shadi Ghadirian: DOB 1997; works at the Museum of

Farzaneh Mahmoudi: DOB 1988; will graduate from

Photography in Tehran; her work is intimately linked to

the Omid Program in 2012 specializing in Accounting.

her identity as a Muslim woman living in Iran question- Simin Moadab: DOB 1989; will graduate from the ing the role of women in society and exploring ideas

Omid Program in 2012 specializing in Tourism.

of censorship, religion, modernity, and the status of

Marzieh Mohammadi: DOB 1988; will graduate

women; her work is in major public collections such as

from the Omid Program in 2012 specializing in English

the British Museum, the Centre Pompidou, and the Los


Angeles County Museum of Art, and has been exhibited Noushin Nowrouzi: DOB 1988; will graduate from the in Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark,

Omid Program in 2012 specializing in Graphic Arts.

France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Kuwait, Luxembourg,

Forouzan Parvani: DOB 1989; graduated from the

Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Syria,

Omid Program in 2010 in Graphic Arts; working as a

UAE, UK, and US.

freelance photographer.

Elham Aghiani: DOB 1984; graduated from the Omid

Nadia Parvani: DOB 1991; graduated from the Omid

Program in 2011 in Tourism; studying Tourism at

Program in 2010 in Graphic Arts; working as a freelance



Fereshteh Ebrahimi: DOB 1987; will graduate from

Samira Razi: DOB 1988; will graduate from the Omid

the Omid Program in 2012 specializing in Graphic Arts.

Program in 2012 specializing in English Language.

Maliheh Ghaznavian: DOB 1991; will graduate from

Setareh Sadri: DOB 1992; will graduate from the Omid

the Omid Program in 2012 specializing in Graphic Arts.

Program in 2012 specializing in English Language.


THE OMID FOUNDATIONS Empowering disadvantaged young women in Iran

The Omid Foundations are a group of three registered charities (Omid-e-Mehr Foundation established 2004 in Iran, Omid Foundation established 2006 in the UK, and Omid Foundation USA established 2008 in the USA) work together to help vulnerable young women achieve self-awareness, self-determination and self-sufficiency in modern Iranian society. Omid’s mission is to strengthen the social, emotional, and economic competencies of marginalized young women (aged from 15 to 25) in Iran, providing them with a sense of self-worth and with the opportunities to experience a full range of life options through self-empowerment, education and training.


Omid’s program takes place at its own centers in Tehran, where it provides a welcoming and containing social environment, psychological and personal development through therapeutic interventions and workshops, social and recreational activities to facilitate social integration and readjustment, and structured educational and vocational training.


Established in 2004, Magic of Persia is a UK-based charity which nurtures and develops Iranian cultural practitioners of the arts. This is accomplished by establishing initiatives promoting modern, contemporary and classical Persian art, music and media in partnership with world-class institutions. Programs include residencies for talented young artists at the Delfina Foundation, Gasworks and Visiting Arts. In addition, Magic of Persia offers several MA scholarships at the London Film School and MFA grants at the Royal College of Art. One of the charity’s most established initiatives to date is the bi-annual Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOP CAP); a global search to identify the next generation of Iranian artists. At the heart of Magic of Persia is a mission to provide much-needed opportunities for talented individuals both inside and outside of Iran; supporting them in gaining well-deserved international recognition. Through its activities, the charity strives to make a notable contribution to the long-term advancement of Iranian art and culture worldwide.


Voices of the Other Half  

Catalogue for the exhibition of Voices of the Other Half in aid of the OMID Foundations