Shadi Ghadirian was born in 1974 in Tehran, Iran, is a contemporary photographer who continues to live and work in Tehran. She studied art and photography at Azad University in Tehran, graduating with a B.A. in photography.
Through her work, Ghadirian critically portraits the challenges facing women living in Iran and the contradictions exist between tradition and modernity in everyday life. She gained international recognition through the series Qajar and Like Every Day. Ghadirian has produced several photographic series to date, titled Miss Butterfly in 2011; White Square in 2009; Nil, Nil in 2008; Ctrl+Alt+Delete in 2006; West by East in 2004; Be Colorful in 2002; Like Every Day in 2000; My Press Photo in 1999; Qajar in 1998; and Out of Focus in 1998. In these series Ghadirian attempts to reveal the issues that women face in contemporary Iran, as well as shedding light on the complexities of negative stereotypes that they face.
In Qajar series, 1998, Ghadirian arranged portraits of women, mainly her friends and family, using backdrops and dress reminiscent of the Qajar era, 1785-1925, but added contemporary props such as a boom box, a Pepsi can, a phone or a vacuum cleaner. Portraits taken in the Qajar period were traditionally captured in a formal setting, and the subject often posed with prized possessions and objects that pointed to elite status.
From the series of Be Colorful, 2002 (courtesy of Shadi Ghadirian)
From the series of Qajar, 1998 (courtesy of Shadi Ghadirian)
Ghadirian first involvements in group exhibitions were in the Group Exhibition About Children at Aria Gallery and Tehran International Documentary Photo Exhibition, both took place in Tehran, Iran in 1997. Since then, she has taken part in a diverse collection of group exhibitions all over Europe, North and South America, Northern Africa, Asia, and Australia as well as exhibitions in Iran and the Middle East. Her work has appeared at the Venice Biennale, 2015, and many other prominent biennials and galleries around the world.
The first solo exhibitions of Ghadirian were at Golestan Gallery in Tehran, Iran and Leighton House Museum in London, UK, both in 1999. Since, she has held solo exhibitions all over the world, mostly in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
Ghadirian's work exists in public collections at The British Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK; the Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris, France; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA; The Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, USA; the LACMA in California, USA; the Mumok in Vienna, Austria; Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie in Aurillac, France; the Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon, India; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran.
In addition to focusing on individual photo projects, Ghadirian pays great deal of attention to her video art projects, and working at the Museum of Photography in Tehran as well.