visionaries: shadi ghadirian


Shadi Ghadirian is a photographer who lives and works in her native Tehran.

Ghadirian's work is intimately linked to her identity as a Muslim woman living in Iran. In her Qajar series, Ghadirian questions the role of women in society at large and explores ideas of censorship, religion, modernity and the status of women. The Qajar series of portraits was inspired by old plate-glass photographs from Iran's Qajar period (1794-1925). "Until that time, portraits were forbidden in Iran for religious reasons," Ghadirian says, "so the impact of these photographs on 19th-century Iranians was enormous."

For her own Qajar portraits, Ghadirian asked a painter friend to recreate the elaborate 19th-century backdrops. She then borrowed vintage clothing in which to dress female friends, and reproduced the poses from the old photographs, incorporating her own twist. Ghadirian juxtaposes the traditional images with symbols of contemporary life.


Ghadirian studied photography at Azad University in Tehran. After finishing her undergraduate work, Ghadirian began her professional career as a photographer. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across Europe and the United States. Ghadirian's photographs are in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. Currently, Ghadirian works at the Museum of Photography in Tehran.



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