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‘These works are an act of resistance’: Inside three generations of Iranian female photography

A new book of images shows the ways in which artists in the country have circumvented restrictions to express themselves

She wears a black coat, a black headscarf and black boots in compliance with Iran’s Islamic dress code. But her gaze is direct and on her hands are red boxing gloves. This is the modern Iranian woman on the cover of a new photography book, Breathing Space: a woman ostensibly complying with the rules, yet standing defiant and ready to fight.

Edited by the curator Anahita Ghabaian, who founded the Silk Road Gallery, Tehran’s first space dedicated to contemporary photography, Breathing Space showcases the work of 23 female Iranian photographers across three generations. The images span documentary and reportage to portraits and staged scenes, and offer a female lens through which to see the country at a time when Iranian women’s fight for their rights has come to the attention of the world.

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