Iranian photographer Gohar Dashti has created a body of work that explores the relationship between nature, human migration, and the ripple effects of conflict and social upheaval. With the pandemic creating a collective sense of unmooring from the familiar, what is important is that “it will make us understand that we’re all in the same boat,” she said. One of her series, “Today’s Life and War”, placed a couple going about day-to-day domestic life — cooking, watching TV, hanging up washing — amid the trappings of a battlefield, with tanks and soldiers looming in the background. Resilience to the anxiety triggered by uncertainty is something Dashti thinks we can learn from the pandemic.
“This is a shared pain,” she told AFP from Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States, where she has been based for several years. Another series, “Stateless”, produced in 2014/2015, features scenes similar to those familiar in news coverage of refugees and migrants but rendered stark and semi-theatrical against vast and towering landscapes.”The conditions created by the coronavirus all over the world teach us how to live with instability,” she said.
“I hope that from this situation, we will come to an understanding that the world is one. If a tree is cut in Africa, it impacts the life of someone in France,” the 40-year-old photographer and video artist said.
“It’s good that we understand the relationship between the world, economy, and nature, and maybe this epidemic has allowed us to think about all these issues again.”
Nature and its relationship to mankind trace a thread through Dashti’s 15-year oeuvre — exhibited worldwide and featured in prestigious permanent collections — with nature often acting as a foil for examining social issues and identity in her large-scale, staged photographs.
Dashti’s own life was marked by conflict and its legacy. She was born in Iran’s Khuzestan province at the start of the Iran-Iraq war that ravaged the oil-rich eastern region that borders Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands from 1980-1988.
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