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Behold series, 2016

Wall text

Wall text

Hoda Afshar

Born 1983 in Tehran, Iran.  

Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne. 

Pronouns: she/her 

 

"Untitled #1 - #12" 

pigment photographic prints

Courtesy of the artist

These photographs document the covert space of a bathhouse in an unidentified Iranian city where a group of gay men sought refuge from an ever-present threat of persecution. In 2016, these men invited Afshar to photograph them, trusting her with the most personal of revelations. The images that result are a tender tableaux. There is nothing gratuitous or explicit here, only subtlety and suggestion. This is a protective gesture; knowing the potential ramifications for her subjects’ safety, Afshar toes the line between disclosure and concealment. 


It isn’t just the way the men are posed – their faces, for the most part, turned away from the camera – that holds revelation at bay. The condensation that hangs heavy in the air enshrouds each image, almost like a shield. There is another texture that interrupts these photographs. 
When Afshar left Iran, she buried the negatives in her suitcase rather than in a lead-lined bag to protect them from being corrupted by the airport scanner. She didn’t want to draw attention to the kind of images they contained. This was another protective gesture, a trace of which remains in the grain that slightly pockmarks the surface of each print. 

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