15 Photographers

Iranian Living Room

If you leaf through our family album the first ten years of my life
were spent in black and white
and predominantly in our living room yet my memories of those years
are full of colour.

~ Hamid Ziarati, Iranian writer


Under the creative direction of Enrico Bossan, head of photography at Fabrica, 15 young Iranian photographers welcome us into the “Iranian Living Room”, a unique space beyond global media and local state. This is where life is lived in private in Iran; it is often where life takes place, in fact.



In this living room both literal and metaphorical, we are privileged to discover multiple interpretations of Iranian reality: cultural differences and similarities, solitude and conviviality, relaxation and excitement, dressing up for an interior life versus dressing up for the street, the rhythms of religious ceremony and the patterns of everyday life.

Where much life on the street is presented by the world’s media as foreign and inhibited, behind these closed doors the lens captures a life that is immediately recognisable in all its untrammelled richness. It takes on a central role as a kind of counterpoint to the contested street, functioning as a new public sphere. It is both far away and close to home. These vignettes are framed by young photographers who, through their own storytelling, might help change the stories we tell about Iran.

Iranian Living Room is the first of a series of editorial projects self-published by Fabrica.




Fabrica is a communication research centre. It is based in Treviso, Italy, and is an integral part of the Benetton Group. Established in 1994, Fabrica offers young people from around the world a one-year scholarship, accommodation and a round-trip ticket to Italy, enabling a highly diverse group of researchers. The range of disciplines is equally diverse, including design, communication, photography, code, video, music, journalism and media. Fabrica aims to create the next generation of creative leaders, capable of positively addressing 21st century issues.


Mohammad Mahdi Amya, Majid Farahani, Saina Golzar, Sanaz Hajikhani, Hamed Ilkhan, Ali Kaveh, Mahshid Mahboubifar, Mehdi Moradpour, Sahar Pishsaraeian, Negar Sadehvandi, Hashem Shakeri, Sina Shiri, Morteza Soorani, Nazanin Tabatabaei Yazdi, Ali Tajik


Related links

Fabrica / Book “Iranian Living Room” / Facebook


22 thoughts on “15 Photographers – Iranian Living Room”


    hmmmm…what did you say exactly?

    ha ha i can not always figure out what in hell you mean…what is contrived? you think the young photographers posed the pictures? or the idea is contrived? is that what you mean? contrived means made up, fake,distorted from the reality…so you think these pictures are somehow faked or a distorted reality?

    since these young photographers will be reading your comment and since you are in fact an art/photography teacher by trade perhaps you would be kind enough to explain a bit more what you mean…i am sure these young students would appreciate all your input..

    also not sure what you mean by “this type of visual thinking”….this is straight reportage for sure…nothing to interpret, no mystery, no artifact…it is all right here…this comment too i think would be enlightening for these photographers if you explained a bit…to be helpful to them…seems to me they are simply shooting what they see…and some would i am sure want to take the “seeing” process further and a more clear explanation by you would be so so helpful i think…especially for those who want to grow visually in the long term….

    i think the intent of Fabrica was fairly straightforward…to simply show most of us what we cannot normally see from an “insider” view…that’s all….as we can see not much is going on in these “living rooms”..smoking , watching tv etc etc…yet the overall melancholy sort of grabs me…and personified by that last shot of the woman on her balcony….

    for me this is everyone’s worst nightmare…to have essentials to survive yet with a sort of hopelessness overwhelming…maybe i am reading too much into this, yet that is how these pictures make me feel…

    anyway Imants i hope your studio is done and you are living happily ever after in Tasmania….if i ever get back to Oz, i will definitely take a trip down your way…

    cheers, david

  2. Yea it is pretty much a distorted reality people are obviously conscious of the camera, there is that wait for something to happen then press the shutter feel about all the images.
    It is quite obvious the participants have been informed about a platform of photographic intent. I am not saying it is a bad approach, I see it as a great way to create a visual language that can twist and weaves within itself, food for social media instagram creation that the act of looking within oneself.

  3. Iran, every day and simply, as most of us in the west never have and never will see it. Well done. I like the dog a log, but feel very sorry for it. The genes of such a dog compel it to get out and run. It can’t run very far in a living room – no, not even in a whole house. Poor dog.

    Imants, you have given me a good chuckle to start my day.


    you write, “pretty much a distorted reality…there is that wait for something to happen and then press the shutter feel about all of the images”….hmmmm, well isn’t that what all portrait and documentary photography is? not sure that i would describe this as somehow a “distorted reality” however…..i do see what you mean in the sense that for sure everyone in these pictures is aware of the camera…yet it seems that most of the photographers have waited for that off moment when perhaps the awareness was at least less…

    how would you handle this one if you were commissioned to shoot it, or were in Iran and given this access? just curious…

    for sure the primary appeal here is of course that we are taken to Iran…so place does matter in this work…and for that purpose alone i think it hqs value…and the very best part is that the pictures were taken by Iranians of Iranians…who are of course just like everyone else in their living rooms around the world which at least gets us away from press sensationalism and an event based coverage…are these great images out of the context of this parameter? i think not, and yet i personally am happy to view photography from many angles and for many reasons…

    sometimes over analyzing seems like well over analyzing…

    as Mike Young says above “I love to travel to places I have never been”…

    cheers, david

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  6. how would you handle this one if you were commissioned to shoot it, or were in Iran and given this access? just curious……….. I haven’t done commission work since I was 22 and that was a 3 month stint working for the bureaucrats and bored me at no end. I would not take up a commission I do what I do because that is what I do…..smile
    As for access to Iran the same as anywhere else spend my time taking in the place for what it is or isn’t ……..shoot the odd frame, enjoy the food etc

    No over analysis here to me it is obvious

  7. I’m not travelling anywhere looking at this essay. It can just as easily be a photo series of Iranian emigres living in New York City…the only hint of error on my part being the non-North American electrical outlets on the walls in a sea of brunette. This it-can-be-anywhere aspect to the essay ties nicely with the global view of Benetton’s marketing strategy of equalization, and unfortunately, normalization, of world cultures. It is re-inforced by the utter sameness of the photographic styles of the 15 photographers. This is not necessarily a criticism; it is just as hard to cover an idea with photographers using a similar approach, as it is for an individual to explore a story with unique and solitary authorship.

    I would be curious to see if Enrico Bossan had an editorial hand in this essay, and also what the philosophical approach of Fabrico is to contemporary cultural anthropological inquiry.

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  9. Structured approaches as above make communication easy, there is no need to go beyond the barriers presented all can be taken on face value or one can put it into some social context and expanded to who knows where.
    Jeff Instagram also reinforces the sameness of the photographic styles, egos and the individual are promoted yet there are no real stars, except for the concept of the founders. I am sure the exponents of anti art/photography in the 1920’s/30’s as well as the early 1970s would have championed instagrams.

    ……..ah the colours of Benetton, Andy Warhol and instagram rule. Transition from art to chess has its merits.

  10. Instagram is about social networking with snapshots

    Hmmmm, I thought it was about free content for content providers. Or a marketing opportunity for small business types. I guess it can be about different things for different people and just about all of them can be right.

    Regarding this essay, I don’t really have any criticisms, just a few thoughts and questions. My understanding, after devoting some time trying to figure out the authentic sentiment that I presume undergirds the gibberish in the statement, is that this essay serves up the old trope that state propaganda can be overcome by viewing the daily lives of real people in countries that are deemed “enemy” by the state in which we live. That’s fine, a worthy goal and a worthy effort. Judging by what the mass media shows us here in the U.S., one would think that Iranians do nothing but chant angrily, burn American Flags, and hang effigies of Uncle Sam, certainly when they go out in the street, but presumably in their kitchen and living rooms as well. And although I’ve been around some and have already learned the lesson that people everywhere are more or less the same in their basic humanity, I don’t know all that much about what it’s like in Iran these days. I’ve seen Persopolis and from what I read (which granted, must include a lot of propaganda) gather that the Revolutionary Guards, or other aspects of the police state in Iran, still come down hard on those who deviate from their hard-line interpretations of the faith. So the first thing that occurred to me on viewing these images was if their publication put their subjects in danger? Especially drunk girl dancing. That would get the poor child stoned in Utah. What about in Iran?

    Somewhat like Jeff Hladun, I couldn’t tell by the content of the photos that they were shot in Iran and thought they could have just as easily been ex-pats in Paris or the like. But the statement told us where they were and in this case, that was enough for me. But in general, you know that lack of what many refer to as “establishing shots” is something I question in a saddening number of photo essays. I put the scare quotes on “establishing shots” because, when done right, that’s not what I’m talking about. The land, the cities, the culture that surrounds us are an important part of who we are and when photographers ignore those aspects of the subjects’ lives, their inherently lack important insights about whatever they’re trying to communicate. They don’t establish, they define, every bit as much as whatever may or may not be sitting on the kitchen table. Take me, as an immediately available example. I’ve lived a lot of different places, but if someone photographed me in my room, it would look pretty much the same whether I was in Los Angeles, Paris, Lima, Lisbon, Tucson, or somewhere deep in American rurality. There’ll be a computer (or typewriter) on a desk, some cameras laying around, a few pieces of art on the walls, a lot of books, and a few knicknacks and trinkets such as Señor Misterioso or a glow-in-the-dark Virgin Mary on the shelves. Those photos would tell you a lot about me, but without knowing I was in Paris or Lisbon or Libreville or wherever, the portrait would be severely lacking. I guess the reason it didn’t bother me in this essay is because it’s about the living room reality versus the propagandistic images of “the street” and I have plenty of those rattling around my head from which to draw on. Maybe some real images of the street would be helpful. Or are the propagandistic images accurate? Or has nothing changed since Persopolis?

  11. in case anyone is interested, this great project has been turned into a book! :)))…

    I didnt comment at the time (and rarely do now, just because I’ve been working working on my book and trying not to get drawn in too much with internet, but i still look at the BURN essays, each of them)…

    anyway, CONGRATULATIONS !!!1


  12. BOB.

    thanks for this..i would have to go back and read again the artist statement for Iranian Living Rooms, yet i do think our team here at Burn was aware a book was in the making…Diego brought that story in to Burn, and i am pretty sure he told us a book was coming….

    as always wishing you well Bob..

    cheers, david

  13. David :)))

    yep, i think Diego mentioned that. :) Just wanted to mention since some of the commentators didnt really appreciate the work unfortunately. the book looks gorgeous :))…just goes to show, as you know ;), that people need to keep open minds/eyes when looking at online pics, because the author’s intent may be for something other than slidepresentation, and Burn acts as a great gateway for so many :))…..

    keep it up ! :)

  14. Bob Black…

    It’s a pity you don’t write round here much. These days I have to spend way too much time in Facebook just to see what you’re up :)!

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