Like Everyday Series by Shadi Ghadirian
Challenging the international preconceptions of women’s roles within an Islamic state, Tehran-based artist Shadi Ghadirian’s photographs draw from her own experiences as a modern woman living within the ancient codes of Shariah law. Her images describe a positive and holistic female identity, humorously taking issue with the traditional roles by which women – both in the Middle East and universally – have been defined.
Ghadirian uses an ordinary kitchen utensil as a readymade pun. Through her simple recontextualisation of a cleaver, she develops a fictional character of hilarious proportions as the old adage of ‘hatchet face’ comes to life as a one eyed shrew. Branded with the knife company’s label – Shogun – she’s not a woman to be reckoned with.
Through her staged photographs, Ghadirian’s everyday objects become elevated from anonymity to form a group of distinctive portraits. Humorously drawing upon the humanistic forms of each item, common goods resonate with suggestive narratives, ironically exaggerating misogynist typecasts. In this work a colander adeptly represents a woman who’s all mouth: a neighbourhood gossip conceived as a human sieve, endlessly broadcasting like a loud speaker.
A shrouded broom huddles with timid demureness, her form most associated with ‘doormat’; beneath her veil, however, the broom handle stands in for a sturdy backbone. With her countenance made up of a straw besom, her expression appears wizened and worn, indicating time honoured knowledge and the tenacity and temper of a charwoman.
Her Like Everyday Series was created from the plethora of domestic gifts she received after her wedding – items completely foreign to a young professional. Using these objects – such as irons and frying pans – as masks to cover the faces of her veiled sitters, Ghadirian’s photos ironically portray a one-dimensional interpretation of housewives, absurdly reducing their identities to cooks and cleaners.
The title of Ghadirian’s Like Everyday Series refers both to the materials she uses in her photos and the derogatory social perceptions that women regularly face. Her cast of crudely rendered women cleverly reinvents the sources of negative stereotyping as attributes of empowerment. A grater-faced wife, the dreaded prototype of mother-in-law jokes everywhere, radiates a steely and abrasive determination. (ist)