Monday, 8 February 2016

Amak Mahmoodian: Hanging Over Hell by a Hair Strand











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Shenasnameh by Amak Mahmoodian

“ When you die Amak you will go to hell and you will be hanged with your hair strand over a very big fire for all eternity because you didn't hide it from the eyes of strangers in your lifetime.”


That's what Amak Mahmoodian's religious teacher told her when she came to school with a strand of her hair showing from beneath her head scarf. 

It was a comment that stuck, a comment that encapsulated the concrete changes in how you should dress and behave in the years following Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979. 

This is what Amak says in her introduction to the book.

'I am Iranian. I was born in 1980, the same year as the Islamic Revolution. I learned how to wear my  scarf when I was seven years old. I still remember putting it on for the first time, getting ready for my first day at school. It was me, my mother and a mirror. Two years later my Religious teacher stopped me in the corridor for letting my hair show. She told me to cover my hair completely.  She said “When you die, Amak, you will go to hell and you will be hanged with your hair strand over a very big fire for all eternity because you didn’t hide it from the eyes of strangers in your lifetime”



Six years ago, I was waiting in a reception room, holding the birth certificates of my mother and me. We looked similar in our ID photographs. That same day my fingerprint was fixed next to my image, and my mother’s fingerprint next to her image. Despite the outward similarity of the images the fingerprints were different; the scar I had on my finger became part of my identity next to my photograph. I decided this meant something, that our identities were entwined with these official identities, with these prints and these papers. In the following three years, I collected similar images and fingerprints from different women in Iran. Each was different from the other, and had a story to tell.,



It's a very personal take on how politics and ideology affect one's identity at the most basic level and we are delighted that Amak will be speaking about this, and other work at Photobook Bristol 2016.

The book (which is a Bristol production) is looking great, so Pre-order Shenasnameh here.



_MG_9073 copy


Confirmed speakers for Photobook Bristol 2016.



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