In the suitably gritty setting of the artist-run collective MILS Gallery, just opposite Central Station, is new exhibition Silk Road. It comprises the work of three contemporary photographers all working out of Iran, Jalal Sepehr, Tahmineh Monzavi and Behnam Sadighi.
MILS Gallery director Adriano Rosselli believes there is a common misconception of Iranian art as “quaint” or not as ‘high’ as the art of other countries. “Iranians are modern and extremely philosophical – some of the biggest celebrities within the country are poets, artists and contemporary thinkers,” he says.
After a trip to Iran earlier in the year, where he visited the Silk Road Gallery in Tehran, Rosselli began the process of bringing some of the best work back to Sydney. Curated by Anahita Ghabaian from the Tehran gallery in association with MILS, the result is a small but beautiful exhibition made up of works that offer unique perspectives on life in Iran.
The vivid, cinematic images depict what seems to be a cohesive, every-day-life view of Iran. But Roselli assures me each artist has his/her own distinct concerns. “Sadighi has a really negative take on metropolises,” he says. “His photos include young children in their natural environment away from the city, yet they can’t escape it.” Works by Tahmineh Monzavi depict elaborate wedding dresses, commenting on tradition and issues around the place of women in Iran.
Jalal Sepehr’s subject matter comes from the ancient city of Yaz. “Like many Persians he is obsessed with the Persian rug,” says Rosselli. “These pictures play off the architecture and play off the idea that the traditional can still fit into a modern Iran.”
Silk Road runs at MILS Gallery until May 31, 2014.