Tehran, 2012, C-print
31.5 x 47.24 in (80.01 x 119.99 cm)
Perennials is a series of eight photographs marking significant stages and ritual passages in the lives of Iranian women.
Portraying another form of womanhood in modern day Tehran, this series, like many of my projects, explores through a gendered lens the customary decisions and behaviors, surroundings and settings, of women from my home and throughout this country’s history.
Perennials refers to a broad timeline in an Iranian woman’s life: birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage, motherhood, menopause, and death.
Each title—from One through Sixty-Eight-indicates a year in the life of a girl and a woman.
Perennials also conjures a metaphorical growth and dissemination of an unconscious existence in these lives, and offers subtle and penetrating questions: Through what means are Iranian women both in and out of awareness and consciousness? How do they appear to perform habitually the ceremonial rites of women’s lives in a parallel but assimilated existence besides their male counterparts?
In One a family celebration of a newborn female child determines her future path, while Nine captures a girl’s transformative and religious age of maturity, according to Sharia, in her involuntary acceptance of new obligations for her dress and hair, prayers and feasting, and for her relationships to boys and men. The male child framed in this female-filled room blatantly opens a refrigerator, a potent act. The adolescent woman in Sixteen observes and internalizes the daily customary habits—television, alcohol, and news—permitted in the home to men, fathers and husbands, while in Twenty Nine the unmarried and burdensome woman dissolves into a living-room corner. A pregnant woman with an older husband in Thirty Four determinedly creates her own amusing atmosphere unlike the exhaustive quotidian responsibilities of motherhood in Forty Two. Deep isolation and loneliness pervades Fifty Five only to be disrupted in life by death and acts of mourning in Sixty Eight.
A psychological and spatial dichotomy rests at the core of my investigation. Women’s bodies are distinguished from their urban environment, neighborhoods, and communities in the domestic home—an interiority—in contrast to a physically exterior male space, which is moreover an intellectual, scientific, political, and productive arena.