Iran • Born in 1975

Ghosts of memory

Photography captures the present. But its magic resides in its power to let us travel through time. In the way it helps us explore the past, sometimes shaded with nostalgia. Where do we come from? Whose interwoven lives gave birth to ours? These questions keep us all awake at night. But when the people we want to ask these questions are long gone, sometimes photography can give us precious answers in our search for meaning.

This is what Nazli Abbaspour seeks to show with old family photo albums: that these dusty tomes which often lie forgotten in attics and lofts in fact hold treasures. Using faded images with incomplete captions scrawled on the back, this Iranian photographer invokes the ghosts of the past to conjure forgetfulness. In her series Reincarnation, a butterfly mounted by the artist will represent the rebirth of what she has lost. With The Enigmatic Margin of Existence, she uses photomontage to populate ruins or abandoned buildings with imaginary inhabitants, recreating the glamour and splendour of a lost world.

A multidisciplinary artist trained in Tehran, whose work has been shown across her own country as well as in Europe, throughout her career Nazli Abbaspour has constantly connected the present and the past, drawing a link between the world of the dead and that of the living. A dialogue between today and yesterday, symbolising a complicated identity, thrown into question by the series of events that continue to upend contemporary Iran. But there is never anything dark or ominous about her approach. It is by exploring a forgotten era - from her own life and the lives of others - that the photographer captivates us and spirits us away into her strange, gentle narrative, helping us better understand ourselves.


Exhibition produced in collaboration with the Silk Road Gallery in Tehran.

Nazli Abbaspour