These self-portraits are visual narratives based on poems of Forugh Farrokhzad, one of Iran's most controversial female poets of the 1950s and '60s. Farrokhzad's poems address contradictory feelings women experience in their lives: hope and despair, desire and repulsion, freedom and oppression. As an Iranian woman living in the U.S., I have mixed feelings involving the idea of 'distance', which I experience as both geographical and emotional. With these portraits, I wanted to capture a sense of both longing and uncertainty I connect with in Farrokzhad's work, framing conflicting experiences with a confronting gaze.
Each image depicts a different poem of Farrokzhad's, and each is my way of reflecting on themes discussed in her poetry with elaborately cut-out Farsi letters. Using Farsi letters as culturally specific motifs and the act of cutting out and removing text as a metaphor for taking away access from the audience, I reference geographical and emotional isolation, attempting to express what is lost in translation and cannot be recaptured.
The otherness of Farsi letters may create a level of discomfort for the audience. Challenging the reader to read something they can't read reduces the reader to the state of uninformed or uneducated. They motivate the desire to understand and then the frustration of never having that desire fulfilled.
The cutting of Farsi letters was a therapeutic way for me to confront feelings of anger, loss, and guilt and to resolve these by capturing a lack of emotional resolve in each portrait.