Walking through Lands: Gohar Dashti in conversation with Mary Pelletier
Gohar Dashti’s nuanced approach to photographing the legacy of war in her home country Iran has cemented her position within the medium’s history. Interpreting her subject not as a documentary photographer but as a conceptual artist, Dashti’s highly stylized, poetic observations open up conversations relating to home, displacement, war and personal experience. Five bodies of Dashti’s work will be brought together at The Photographers’ Gallery Print Sales room for her first UK solo presentation Across the Land and Sea. Hear Gohar Dashti talk to curator Mary Pelletier about how nature remains a constant source of connection with her homeland. ‘The limitless reach of nature and landscapes – that reach across cultural and political divisions –as well as the ways in which immigrants inevitably search out and reconstruct familiar topographies in a foreign land, together tell a story familiar to all humans.’
Gohar Dashti received her M.A. in photography from the Tehran University of Art in 2005. For the past 17 years, she has been making large scale photography with a particular focus on social issues. Her work references history and contemporary culture, as well as the convergence of anthropological and sociological perspectives; employing a unique, quasi-theatrical aesthetic, she brings to bear a diverse intellectual and cultural experience to illuminate and elaborate upon her perception of the world around her.
In her most recent works, Dashti has explored, through her highly stylized, densely poetic observations of human and plant-life, the innate kinship between the natural world and human migrations. Fascinated with human-geographical narratives and their interconnection to her own personal experiences, Gohar Dashti believes that nature is what connects her to the multiple meanings of ‘home’ and ‘displacement’, both as conceptual abstractions, and as concrete realities that delineate and contour our existence. The result is a series of quirky landscapes and portraits, as lush as they are arch, inciting questions about the immense, variegated, border-eschewing reach of nature – immune to cultural and political divisions – and the ways in which immigrants inevitably search out and reconstruct familiar topographies in a new, ostensibly foreign land.
Gohar Dashti’s works have found homes around the globe in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C.; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), Chicago, and Kadist Art Foundation, Paris. She has been awarded numerous art fellowships including a MacDowell, Peterborough, NH (2017 and 2021), DAAD award, Berlin (2009-2011) and Visiting Arts (1Mile2 Project), Bradford/London (2009).
Mary Pelletier is the Print Sales Specialist at The Photographers’ Gallery, and curator of Gohar Dashti’s current solo exhibition, ‘Across Land and Sea’, in the Print Sales gallery. Previously based in Doha, Qatar, she worked as a Senior Photography Specialist at Qatar Museums with a particular focus on historical and contemporary photography of the Middle East. She received her MA from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in 2010, and has since managed commercial photography programmes, international art fair stands, and spent two years as an archival researcher and arts writer in Jerusalem. She is also a contributing editor at The Classic, a magazine dedicated to vintage photography.