Shadi Ghadirian and the Arts of Time Travel

How fortuitous that the day after Mimi posts her interview with Junaid Rana on the politics of Muslim dress, this image shows up in my Tumblr feed, by way of a l’allure garconniere and Colorlines:

This is just one of a series of images from Shadi Ghadirian’s art project, “Qajar” which explores, as she puts it, “the duality and contradiction of life.” Each of the photographs features “models, chosen among close family and friends . . . wearing clothes from the turn of the 20th century and . . . carrying objects, mostly smuggled, into contemporary Iran.” A fuller description of the project is published at Women in Photography.

All of the images are striking in the way that they each enact a kind of time travel (women wearing turn of the 20th century clothes carrying a boombox or a Pepsi can, etc.). Simultaneously, these images of time-traveling Iranian women trouble the civilizationalist discourses about Muslim dress as the material register of an anti-feminist and unmodern culture in which women are physically, politically, and socially immobilized. I can’t include all of the photos here so please do check out Ghadirian’s website to see the full project.




2 responses to “Shadi Ghadirian and the Arts of Time Travel

  1. These photos are beautiful. Thread Bared will always rule my heart!

  2. Momin

    For me, the impact of the staged anachronism of these photos comes from the choice of using technological and commercial artifacts to represent the modern day. Early 20th-century Iranian women posing with such artifacts serves to invert, in temporality and culture and gender, the European colonial fetish of showing power over the “ancient,” the “oriental,” and the “feminine” by collecting, possessing, displaying, and posing with objects (or objectified people) representing those identities (identities which, of course, were frequently conflated with one another). The inversion both mocks the absurdity of the colonial fetishism, and asserts a female Islamic identity as having power and dignity. I could imagine more photos in this series that could also invert locality, objectification of people, and gender roles, but that might ruin the beauty of the series’ current simplicity and understatement. Thanks for sharing!