BAHMAN JALALI (Iranian, 1944 – 2010)

“Bahman Jalali has photographed the four corners of his homeland, documented its wars and revolutions, pictured its desert landscape, recorded the facial topography of his people, and has shown that he is intimately familiar with the empty stillness of Iran’s villages and cities. Looking at Bahman Jalali’s photographs is to witness the evident and hidden history of his people - from the streets and battlefronts of its revolutions and wars, to the vacated landscape of its deserts and small towns, and then down to the distant corners of its photographic memories. His work and activity are thus the indices of the enduring role of photography in the emergence of his country as a modern nation-state over the last two hundred years, and chart the various visual regimes that have been constitutional to the formation of Iranian modernity. Evident in his work and running through the silhouettes of his photographic memory are the active registers of a visual modernity coterminous with a national narrative at the roots of Iranian collective consciousness.”

Selected text courtesy Antoni Tapies Foundation, 2007

Jalali studied economics and political science at Melli University in Tehran. In 1974, he joined the Royal Photographic Society in Great Britain and dedicated his life to photography. His images from the Iran-Iraq War and the Iranian Revolution are emblematic, but it is perhaps his work as a photography professor for over 30 years that he is best known. With his personal and curatorial interest in Persian photographs from the 19th century, Jalali introduced a new generation of artists to the unique history of the medium in Iran.

Jalali was a founding director of Akhskhaneh Shahr, the first museum of photography in Iran established in 1997. In 1998, Jalali started Aksnameh, a quarterly journal of photography, in collaboration with his wife, Rana Javadi.

Jalali had several exhibitions in Iran and abroad, including a retrospective in 2007 at Antoni Tapies Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, and subsequently at Camera Austria Kunsthaus Graz in 2009.

Selected Collections:

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, Nantes, France

British Museum, London, United Kingdom

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Iran