L to R: Untitled (from the series: Image of Imagination Red (2003) Copyright Rana Javadi, 2001, Untitled (From the Series Iran Revolution) 1978-79, Copyright Rana Javadi, 2011

On the occasion of the “Spectrum“ award, given to Bahman Jalali (1944-2010), the Sprengel Museum in Hannover posthumously presents the first solo show of one of Iran’s most influential photographers and visual artists.

Previous winners of the award are renowned artists such as Helen Levitt (2008), Martha Rosler (2005), Sophie Calle (2002), John Baldessari (1999), Thomas Struth (1997), and Robert Adams (1994).

In this major retrospective, the museum presents a selection of works, which has previously been shown at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona (2007 in collaboration with curator Catherine David) and at Kunsthaus Graz (2009).

In Hannover, the exhibition has expanded this presentation by adding prints from Jalali’s early days of study in London as well as a series produced in the last months of his life in which he experiments with layering of images and word prints. This late series was strongly influenced by the uprisings after the re-election of president Ahmadinejad.

Another addition to the show is a selection of 19th century Persian photographs collected by Jalali together with his wife, Rana Javadi. This collection is normally used at Akskhaneh Shahr in Tehran, a photography museum of which Jalali was a co-founder.

The scope of works on view give insight into the multi-faceted interests of the artist and the number of projects in which he was engaged, often together with his wife.

Not only was Bahman Jalali one of Iran’s leading photographers, but also a writer, publicist, historian, teacher, museum founder, and beyond.

In more than 40 years, Jalali documented the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Iran-Iraq war, as well as the post-war reconstruction years. He began documenting the Iranian Revolution in Tehran from beginning to end, from December 10th,1978, the day of the first major demonstration against the Shah, until February 11th, 1979, the day on which the Iranian army retreated.

The depiction of everyday life also plays an important role in the artist’s work: from the 1970s until the end of his life, he created such series as “Fishermen” (1974-1989) or the documentation of the architecture at the city of Bushehr (1974-2006), for which he often returned to places. The development of such series thus often took a long time, months if not years, to come to a satisfying conclusion for him.

In a more recent artistic approach, Jalali used 19th century photo negatives, which he combined with words, put into layers, and thus created a collage-like visual impression.

Exhibition Dates: May 29th to August 21st 2011

Exhibition Venue: Sprengel Museum Hannover

About Author

Dorothea Schoene

Dorothea Schoene is a Berlin-based art historian, freelance writer, and director of ikonoTV. Dorothea has studied in Leipzig and Hamburg/ Germany as well as University of California, Riverside. She is the recipient of a Fulbright grant, a Getty as well as a DAAD grant. Her published work has revolved around contemporary art, architectural and museum history, and looted art provenance.