Zanjir, Amak Mahmoodian

RRB Photobooks


Zanjir is a conversation imagined between the artist, Amak Mahmoodian and the Persian princess and memoirist, Taj Saltaneh. A universal meditation on loss and separation, the book draws on imagery from the Golestan archives in Tehran, texts and photographs by Mahmoodian, and excerpts from Taj Saltaneh’s memoirs.

In 2004, Mahmoodian visited the Golestan museum in central Tehran to begin work on academic archival research. The museum was once home to Qajars, and to the King’s wives and relatives.  The photographs in the museum’s archives, amongst others, include those taken between 1860 and 1896 by Nasr al din shah, the King during the Qajar Era, when photography first arrived in Iran. These archival photographs became a cornerstone of the project due to the multiple potential interpretations and readings of the imagery. Mahmoodian decided to tell her story through that of others – those who lived in the past and yet their stories still exist in the present.

In the past, Mahmoodian had enjoyed silent conversations with family photographs – creating memories within the image and inventing histories with the subject. Developing this further, Mahmoodian began taking photographs of those around her concealed behind historical masks – cutouts of the faces from the archival photographs. In some of these photographs there were so many masks that she would forget the real face.

The contemporary photographs in Zanjir were taken between 2002 – 2019, in both Iran and the UK. Although the project is rooted in Tehran -  the Golestan archives and with Mahmoodian’s family – the sentiments in Zanjir are common to many who are separated from family and homeland.

Published by RRB Photobooks
Edition of 800
148 pages
234 x 156 mm
ISBN 9781999727581

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