TAHMINEH MONZAVI (Iranian, b. 1988)

Tahmineh Monzavi was born in 1988 in Tehran, Iran. Earning a BA in photography from the department of art and architecture at Islamic Azad University Central Tehran Branch, Monzavi has been actively making documentary photographs since 2007 and documentary films since 2009. Inspired by Bahman Jalali, Peyman Hooshmanzadeh, Nan Goldin, and Sebastiao Salgado, Monzavi seeks out untold stories. “A constant examination of what is not readily apparent in Iran has provided a rich and, oftentimes, surprising basis for my artistic practice,” Monzavi has said. In her documentary work, Monzavi has confronted controversial subjects, including drug addicts, the homeless, and a transgender woman. She is currently working on a series of staged photographs exploring womanhood, female dreams, and desire.

“For 3 years, I worked on a controversial subject of ‘women addicts’ and I managed to finish this project despite all the difficulties I faced working on a subject like this in Iran. Because of the authorities’ restrictions, I was not allowed to take pictures of these people. This only motivated me more to try to show these hidden angles of Iranian society. I try to be able to cover these sorts of issues and get closer to their private lives. I would also like to find out more deeply about these women in poorer areas and high society women and to measure the differences through the language of art. It isn't easy to approach these women in their homes and when they die, there will be nothing left about their community.
“The houses where these women addicts live are known to the authorities. So far, I’ve only found one house provided by the government to shelter these women.
“I am trying to show the contrasts which exist between social, cultural, and economic classes of Iran. This kind of contradiction can happen in other countries, too, but it can be more violent in Iran, so I want to show some angles of this violence, which has affected women more than men. It is mostly because of their families and their cultural situation in our society. I feel and believe that these women are trying very hard to be strong but, because of the way they have been treated by others and our society, they have become very weak and fragile.”

Group Exhibitions:


Side by Side Gallery, Berlin, Germany


Side by Side Gallery, Berlin, Germany

A View of Documentary Photography in Iran, 1987-2013, Silk Road Gallery, Tehran, Iran


Giorgi Leonidze State Museum of Literature, Tbilisi, Georgia


National Portrait Gallery, London, United Kingdom


A Selection of Young, Talented Iranian Photographers, Silk Road Gallery, Tehran, Iran

Tehran Documented: Selection of Documentary Photographs from the Last 40 Years, Arran Gallery, Tehran, Iran


University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland