Shadi Ghadirian

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Shadi Ghadirian (born 1974 in Tehran, Iran) is a contemporary photographer living and working in Tehran. Through her work, she critically comments on the pushes and pulls between tradition and modernity for women living in Iran, as well as other contradictions that exist in everyday life. Ghadirian gained international recognition through the series Qajar and Like Every Day in 1998 and 2001, respectively, and is now represented by Aeroplastics Gallery in Brussels, Kashya Hildebrand in London and, an online database for up-and-coming contemporary artists.

Personal life[edit]

After graduating high school in 1988, Ghadirian studied art and photography at Azad University in Tehran, emerging from school with a B.A. in photography. In 2000, Ghadirian married the Iranian photographer and author Peyman Hooshmandzadeh (born 1969 Tehran, Iran) who also studied photography at Azad University.

In addition to focusing on individual projects, Ghadirian currently works at the Museum of Photography in Tehran.


Shadi Ghadirian has produced nine photographic series to date, titled Miss Butterfly, Nil, Nil, Be Colourful, Like Every Day, Qajar, Ctrl+Alt+Delete, My Press Photo, Out of Focus, and West by East. These series attempt to work through and reveal the issues that women face living in contemporary Iran while also bringing to light the complexities of negative stereotypes that these same women face coming from abroad.[1]

In Ghadirian’s first series, Qajar (1998), the artist arranged portraits of women, mainly her friends and family, using backdrops and dress reminiscent of the Qajar era (1785-1925), but added contemporary Western props such as a boom box, a Pepsi can, a phone or a vacuum. Portraits taken in the Qajar period were traditionally captured in a formal setting, and the subject often posed with prized possessions and objects that pointed to elite status. This juxtaposition of the traditional and the contemporaneous served as a starting off point for later series that further developed around the theme of contradiction in everyday life in contemporary Iran.[2]

Shadi Ghadirian completed her first video piece called Too Loud a Solitude in 2015. The video is a compilation of “slices of instants” commenting on ambiguity of human origin, and the effect of the crowd.[1]

Group exhibitions[edit]

Ghardirian first involvement group exhibitions, Group Exhibition (About Children) at Aria Gallery and Tehran International Documentary Photo exhibition, both took place in Tehran, Iran in 1997. Since then, the contemporary photographer has taken part in a diverse collection of group exhibitions all over Europe, North and South America, Northern Africa, Asia, and Australia as well as exhibitions in Iran and the Middle East. Her work has appeared at the Venice Biennale (2015), and many other prominent biennials and galleries.[3]

Most notably, Ghardirian has contributed 13 photographs from her Qajar series to a group exhibition to “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World” which began in 2013. The traveling exhibition is a compilation of works by Ghardirian along with 11 other female artists that addresses the complexity of the Western stereotype of the hijab and internal, everyday struggles for women in the Arab world. “She Who Tells a Story” has been on at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2013, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in 2015, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh in 2015 and most recently at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., on until 2016 July 31.[4]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

Shadi Ghadirian’s first solo exhibitions were at Golestan Gallery in Tehran, Iran and Leighton House Museum in London, UK, both in 1999. Since, Ghadirian has held solo exhibitions all over the world, mostly in Europe, North America and the Middle East.[5]

Ghadirian’s work exists in public collections at The British Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK; the Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris, France; the LACMA in California, USA; The Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, USA; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA; the Mumok in Vienna, Austria; Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie in Aurillac, France; the Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon, India; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran.[5]

  • 1999- Golestan Gallery, Tehran, Iran; Leighton House Museum, London, UK
  • 2001- Exhibition at Fnac, Paris, France
  • 2002- Villa Moda, Kuwait
  • 2006- French Cultural Centre, Damascus, Syria; Al-Ma’mal Foundation, Jerusalem, Palestine
  • 2007- B21 Gallery, Dubai; Photography Festival of Istanbul, Turkey
  • 2008- Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, USA; Silk Road Gallery, Tehran, Iran; Tasveer Gallery, Bangalore, India
  • 2009- Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels, Belgium; FCG Düsseldorf, Germany; Co2 Gallery, Rome, Italy; Baudoin Lebon Gallery, Paris, France
  • 2010- Guild Art, Mumbai, India
  • 2011- Queen Gallery, Toronto, Canada; Silk Road Gallery, Tehran, Iran
  • 2012- The International Photo Festival, Kusadasi, Turkey
  • 2013- Podbielsky Contemporary Gallery, Berlin, Germany; Ploum’expo, Ploumagoar, France; Lakeeren Gallery, Mumbai, India
  • 2014- Foto Galeria Lang, Zagreb, Croatia; Aban Gallery, Mashhad, Iran
  • 2015- Dar Al Funoon Gallery, Kuwait; “The Others Me”, officine dell’Immagine Gallery, Milan, Italy[5]


In 1995, Ghadirian won a competition for a photograph from her Qajar series depicting two women in hijabs holding a mirror reflecting banned books in a shelf. However, the ministry of culture in Iran called the photograph “too contentious”, and her piece was disqualified from the competition. For this, The Guardian deems her a “rule breaker”.[6]

On February 4, 2009, The Guardian named Ghadirian “Artist of the Week 27”.[6]


Ghadirian on Qajar Series: “My pictures became a mirror reflecting how I felt: we are stuck between tradition and modernity.”[7]

Again on the Qajar Series: “This conflict between old and new is how the younger generation are currently living in Iran. We may embrace modernity, but we’re still in love with our country’s traditions.”[8]

On photography and history: "Photos do not die. But their meaning and their position change. They often find their place in a part of history of photography."[9]

On video: "Lately, I’ve been interested in movement. I sense the need for movement within my shots. This video is composed of images identical to photos; there is no story to follow. It is a moment in time like a photo in which the subjects move."[9]


.Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh, Sous la direction de, "La photographie iranienne, Un regard sur la création contemporaine en Iran", L'Atelier d'édition Loco/Silk Road Gallery, 2011, 191 pages

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Shadi Ghadirian". Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  2. ^ Gallery, Saatchi. "Shadi Ghadirian - Artist's Profile - The Saatchi Gallery". Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  3. ^ "Shadi Ghadirian". Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  4. ^ Catlin, Roger (2016-03-31). "Female photographers tell important stories in landmark exhibition". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  5. ^ a b c "Shadi Ghadirian". Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  6. ^ a b Lack, Jessica (2009-02-05). "Artist of the week 27: Shadi Ghadirian". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  7. ^ "Shadi Ghadirian: Untitled (Qajar Series) | LACMA Collections". Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  8. ^ "Iranian Women Tell Their Stories Through Photographs". LobeLog. 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  9. ^ a b "Shadi Ghadirian". Retrieved 2016-05-05.