Iran Before the Chador

This is one image from a photoexhibit Iran Before the Chador at R&R Gallery, comprised of photos of an Iranian family in the era before the Islamic revolution by Ayatollah Khomeini.

What is it about this photograph that fascinates me? First, there is the photo itself, a lovely girl in a bathing suit, leaning against a car whose model dates the picture as being decades old. The Persian numbers of the plate strike out for a moment, then the incongruity of it dissolves into the rest of the picture, beginning to make sense. You can immediately perceive the carefree manner of the girl, the freedom, the blithe and breezy ambience, the radiant abandon free of any inane moralizations. But more importantly, there is the history of this photograph, the fact that this lifestyle, this liberal culture has been eradicated in that particular region, that it is a glimpse into a world that is long dead; it is beautifully sad. As Judy Burman aptly describes, it feels "so rare, valuable, and ultimately bittersweet."

[Hat-tip: Raza]


Amaan said…
Wow!! Yes i knew Iran was very liberal before the revolution, but seriously 'bathing suit in the open' liberal!!
Anonymous said…
An interesting picture of what is obviously a Triumph, a long since defunct car manufacturer. Is it a Triumph Herald? Must be, I suppose. These cars are popular now amongst those who are nostalgic for more simple motoring. Triumph were an interesting company, producing many cars which are now regarded as classic, but nevertheless I find it surprising that they were exporting cars to Iran when we are told that in this era the British car industry was anything but commercially enterprising. Oh, and there's a girl sitting on the bonnet, unfortunately obscuring enough of it to make identification of the exact model difficult. What a pity.
Anonymous said…
good to see such stuff eradicated from Iran