Iranian Man, 2000, c-print, 90 x 140 cm

Iranian Man, 2000, c-print, 90 x 140 cm


Sadegh Tirafkan

A Space Main Gallery

March 31 – April 22, 2006

Opening March 31, 2006, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm

Copresented by: Images Festival

Recognized as one of Iran’s most important contemporary photographers, Sadegh Tirafkan’s work offers an eloquent meditation on modern Iranian man’s relationship to his past and his search for a meaningful identity in the present. In Manhood, Tirafkan explores the multiple facets and constructions of contemporary Iranian masculinity in a compelling exhibition of projected video and large-scale colour photographic portraits. This event is being presented as part of the 19th Annual Images Festival, Canada’s largest annual event devoted exclusively to independent and experimental film, video, installation, performance and new media (April 13-22, 2006).

Blending tradition, history, and memory, Tirafkan skillfully reveals the rich nuances of a culture that has existed for over 3,000 years while exposing the homogeneous precepts of a male-dominated society. Not surprisingly, the male body plays a predominate role in the artist’s lexicon of images, with vignettes of the Zorkhaneh (the “powerhouse” of traditional Iranian body builders) contrasted with dramatically veiled self-portraits. Wood block patterns play across naked skin, revealing the unforgettable and un-erasable “tattoo” of culture and identity, while acts of heroism, patriotism, love and betrayal work themselves out in the contorted images of men wrestling, their bodies posed in sacrificial murder positions. Through symbols, icons and various cultural rituals,Tirafkan demonstrates virile choreographies symbolizing fraternity, combat and sacrifice while challenging taboos surrounding veiling and nudity in Persian society and culture. All in all, time and place collapse into this visceral search for identity and meaning in the contemporary world.


Sadegh Tirafkan was born in 1965 in Iraq to Iranian parents. He trained as a photographer at the University of Fine Arts in Tehran. Tirafkan has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions since the late 1980s, including in Iran at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran; in Europe at the VU Gallery in Paris; and in the United States at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery and the Massound Nader Gallery in New York. A significant monograph of his work titled Iranian Man was recently published by Belgium’s La Lettre Volee. Tirafkan currently divides his time between Toronto and Tehran.