In her photography, Tehran-based artist Gohar Dashti reveals aspects of life in Iran often unseen by the outside world—including the emotional legacy of the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War for a generation of young Iranians. She works in series, each one featuring carefully composed groups of people in intimate scenes set in comfortable homes or, almost surreally, on battlefields.
Her latest series, “Iran Untitled,” currently on view at Boston’s Robert Klein Gallery, adds an uncanny element to the work by placing distance between the photographer and her subjects. Amid the vastness of the desert outside Tehran she presents various typologies: half-naked young men, chador-wearing women in mourning, brides and grooms, eager travelers, and a crowd of soldiers instigating a cockfight. The figures are gathered in unnaturally organized groups, right in the center of the frame. Located just beyond our reach, their details blur together in the distance; some even turn their backs to us. Each seems somehow bound—like a group stuck on a sliding board, a wedding party that squeezes onto a single carpet, or a group of spirited protesters assembled in a small hole.
In their staged stillness, these narratives resist easy interpretation and are left open to the viewer, though Dashti’s muted palette imbues each scene with a sense of nostalgia for an unknown time and place. Here, the desert is a kind of in-between space, neither hostile nor welcoming. It simply is, just like the sweeping dusty blue skies that frame her figures.