An Iranian Journey

Hossein Fatemi

Photographing in his native Iran for over a decade, Hossein Fatemi shows a face of Iran far removed from the images of flag-burning demonstrators and turbanned mullahs that have dominated news reporting from the Islamic Republic.~~Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran under the Shah had close relations with the United States which saw it as a reliable ally in a volatile region and an important bulwark against the neighbouring Soviet Union. With its vast oil reserves, Iran was a pivotal power in the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East and the Shah's drive to secularise the country aligned with Western intentions for the region. All this changed, however, with the revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeni to power and inaugurated decades of virulent anti-Americanism. For over twenty years, the news and imagery coming out of Iran have been dominated by chador-clad women, flag burning demonstrations and the reports of nuclear skulduggery. The reality of daily life in this ancient country, however, is much more complex and diverse.

Hossein Fatemi, born and raised in Iran, has been photographing his native country for over 15 years since he started his photographic career. What emerges is a very different picture of a country that has been demonised, sanctioned and isolated for many years. Over 60 % of Iran's 73 million people are under the age of 30 and have little, if any, knowledge of their country before its transformation into a theocratic state. Despite this, however, Iran's younger generations are champing at the bit to break free from the paternalistic oppression of the Mullahs' republic and experience all the usual trappings of youth and modernity that are increasingly being beamed into homes via the internet and (as yet still illegal) satellite TV stations being picked up by the tens of thousands of dishes mounted on buildings across the country. Iran's Basiji volunteer militia prowls the streets looking for women whose headscarves reveal too much hair or young couples inappropriately holding hands but behind closed doors, in the privacy of many a home, Iran's largely secular majority tries to live life as undisturbed as possible. The country has increasingly become a nation of two halves with public office largely ~~held by vetted individuals of spotless Islamic credentials and a large majority navigating a precarious path through the thicket of religious legislation and custom. Mixed parties where alcohol flows liberally, DJs playing Western music to dancing audiences, increased access to officially banned websites, organised prostitution and a worrying proliferation of hard drug use, especially heroin, are all signs of a slow but pronounced divergence between what Iran's Islamic government perceives to be the rightful state of society and the realities lived by the majority of citizens. While the state tries to contain certain practices such as prostitution and pre-marital sex with work-arounds such as nikah al-mut'ah, or temporary marriage, where two people enter a marriage agreement that can last for as little as an hour, it has proved impossible to curtail liberal, western influences with the spread of internet use in Iran. Daily, millions of young people engage in activities that are officially illegal and can carry severe penalties. While the government likes to think of Iranian society as a monolithic unit occupying the moral high-ground in stark contrast with a degenerate, immoral West, ~~the reality of daily life in the Islamic Republic is one which bears all the hallmarks of a modern hybrid with all the usual problems and vices.~~Over the years, Hossein has tried to document all parts of Iran's complex society, lifting the veil on some of the less observed areas of daily life, showing the conflicts that arise between the official version of Iranian life promoted by the authorities and the reality of daily life for Iran's youth which is struggling to find an identity in a fast moving, ever changing world. Travelling across Iran for over a decade, meeting and convincing hundreds of individuals to allow him into their lives, observing the interaction between different type of people in their daily lives, Hossein shows a complex and changing society from the inside. The deal recently reached between Western governments and Iran which is meant to ensure that the country's nuclear programme remains exclusively civilian is now promising a loosening of the sanctions regime that has throttled the Iranian economy and may yet lead to a political opening in its wake.

 

Display

Hossein-Fatemi

Select a subject

  • Group 2 (0)
    • Stories (700)

      Iran

      A cleric and his family walking on Valiasr Street.

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177074

      Iran

      A young couple watching western films in a private...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177096

      Iran

      Girls, all members of Iran's Basij Islamist militia....

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177075

      Iran

      A man adjusts a woman's tiara in a bridal clothing...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177116

      Iran

      Women are exercising in a gym.

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177109

      Iran

      A cleric walks past a mural of a pistol in the...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177077

      Iran

      Women play pool in a men only gym, which it is...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177112

      Iran

      A soldier from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177073

      Iran

      A group of women, dressed in white chadors, crossing...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177078

      Iran

      A naked woman and her client. The woman is a...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177087

      Iran

      The mother of Martyrs, those who died in the...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177080

      Iran

      A naked woman, with a tattoo at the base of her...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177088

      Iran

      Female relatives of men killed during the Iran - Iraq...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177081

      Iran

      Two young women, having enjoyed a drink at a party,...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177097

      Iran

      A billboard featuring the present supreme leader of...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177076

      Iran

      A mural, seen through a glass window, on Enqelab...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177082

      Iran

      Teenage boys practice Parkour, a sport using the...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177107

      Iran

      A group of women, wearing knotted veils, walk...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177086

      Iran

      Two women weight training in a female only gym.

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177104

      Iran

      Serial killer Mohammad Bijeh, 22, who was convicted...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177072

      Iran

      A couple talking in the privacy of Bam-eTehran, the...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177100

      Iran

      A woman reads the Koran in a cemetery by the light of...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177141

      Iran

      Two young women practicing the violin.

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177102

      Iran

      A woman during the 'Chehel Manbar' (Forty Pulpits)...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177091

      Iran

      A Zoroastrian woman sits at a table with burning...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177093

      Iran

      A couple smoke on a roof, surrounded by satelites...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177114

      Iran

      Two young couples sit inside a tent smoking a shisha...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177111

      Iran

      A group of young women stand on a terrace at Bam-e...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177118

      Iran

      Evening prayers at a mosque near Vakil Bazaar.

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177130

      Iran

      Women smoking a shisha (sheesha, Narghile, Hookah) an...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177119

      Iran

      Female members of the Basij a voluntary militia stand...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177071

      Iran

      A woman prays while her friend is smoking and...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177127

      Iran

      Two young women smoking a cigarette on the balcony of...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177126

      Iran

      Female members of the ancient Sabaean Mandean...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177136

      Iran

      A young man plays a guitar in a park in Shiraz.

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177128

      Iran

      A sales woman and a customer look at a lingerie...

      © Hossein Fatemi

      00177131

      of
      Panos Pictures  1 Honduras Street  London  EC1Y 0TH  UK |  telephone: +44 20 7253 1424 |  email: info@panos.co.uk     
      POWERED BY INFRADOX