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Agonistes series, 2020

Wall text

Wall text

Hoda Afshar

Born 1983 in Tehran, Iran.  

Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne. 

Pronouns: she/her 

"Portrait #1 - #9" 2020

pigment photographic prints, text

"Agonistes" 2020

single-channel digital video, colour, sound

20 min

Courtesy of the artist

The nine subjects featured in this 2020 body of work are whistleblowers who have each exposed instances of injustice enacted by Australian institutions. Their testimony has uncovered accounts of abuse and 
wrongdoing in youth detention centres, in disability care, on Manus Island and elsewhere. All of them have faced threats and even prosecution in coming forward. Sensitive to this fact, Afshar only hints at their identities. In the film, we never see their faces in full, only their eyes, lips or hands, quivering in tightly cropped shots. In fractured 
voice-overs, they recount what they have witnessed.


Narrating the pain and exploitation of others, these whistleblowers resemble a Greek chorus. The photographs that accompany the video further elucidate this point, for they quite literally look like classical Greek busts. To create these images, Afshar photographed each subject in 360° with 110 cameras, then printed the dimensional portraits using a 3D printer before eventually re-photographing them as two-dimensional images. The likeness is near perfect, the product of intense documentation, and yet each figure remains slightly indecipherable. The eyes engineer a sense of anonymity; unable to be reproduced by the 3D printer, they appear glazed over and pupil-free. These eyes, these witnesses, withhold even as they lay bare.


Audio text to come soon

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