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Photo Captions


Mixed media installation of seven pieces, two layers each: an adhesive transparency on wall and a transparency on plexiglass projecting two inches from the wall.

Based from: Photographs from Firouz Album, Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran Digital Archive, Harvard University.


In this series, I examine the ways in which photograph captions can shape the viewer’s experience of the photographic image and suggest specific interpretations. I have based these works on photographs of Iranian women from late 19th to early 20th century, found in the digital collection “Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran” at Harvard University. To my knowledge, the identity and the context in which these photographs were taken are unknown; what we have instead are the marginal notes and captions accompanying the images.


The overlapping of seemingly similar photographs—adding in my own subjectivity in their selection process—from the same photo album with contradictory captions or the opposing captions in different collections emphasizes the arbitrariness of the text that purports to identify these subjects, and the ambiguity that underlies its attempt to classify and create “types.” The work also reflects upon the ways in which such texts influence our perceptions and create as well as perpetuate certain narratives about women, culture and social history.

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