Beyond Seas and Trees: GOHAR DASHTI

15 October 2020 - 6 January 2021

From 15 October 2020, Officine dell'Immagine gallery in Milan will resume its own exhibition programme, continuing the now well-established reflection on the emerging contemporary scene. Open until 6 January 2021, the Milanese space presents the fourth solo show of one of the protagonist of the contemporary art scene, Gohar Dashti (Ahvaz, Iran – 1980).


In an Italian exclusive, the exhibition will show the recent projects of this talented artist, curated by Silvia Cirelli. Having distinguished herself in recent years with exhibitions at prestigious international museums such as the Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C., the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C., the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome, Gohar Dashti is reconfirmed as one of the leading lights of contemporary Middle Eastern photography.


Dashti has always been a witness to the complex socio-cultural fabric of Iran, and not only; she is distinguished by a highly evocative style, capable of conveying in the metaphorical dimension of art the collision of apparently opposite traits: irony and bitterness, enchantment and suffering, harshness and escapism. Clearly autobiographical, her aesthetic explores the theme of belonging to the land of origin, identity, and the role that collective memory plays for each of us. From a narrative that translates the precariousness of a point in history marked by a sense of uprooting, the artist narrates human vulnerability with a bold, immersive sensitivity that breaks the boundaries of photography, encapsulating an authentic emotional landscape.


The central core of the exhibition entitled Beyond Seas and Trees, are her two latest photographic series, artistic projects featuring a poetic approach that once again eliminates human presence, to give way to the sublime natural world.

Gohar Dashti uses nature as a terrain for exploration, contemplation and the ultimate expression of the artistic message. Although paradoxically absent, the human being nevertheless remains the protagonist. In the visceral correspondence between the natural and the anthropic world, the artist conquers an unprecedented perceptual dimension, capable of leading to a repertoire of emotions and memories. The subjects of the 2019 Land/s series are some shots of remote landscapes in the United States of America that Dashti prints in the form of large mobile billboards. She then places them in bucolic Iranian settings and in turn photographs them. Although the double landscape setting is clear, the shot offers an evocative harmony and certainly does not suggest the coexistence of an American and an Iranian panorama. With its sublime and overbearing force, nature seems to want to destroy the boundaries of the most common concept of border, offering an interlude of sharing and conciliation.

The dynamic relationship between the human world and the natural world, as well as the narration of the vulnerability of historical memory through vegetal references, also returns in the series Uprooted, again from 2019, in which the sensation of being uprooted is barycentric. After a few walks in the lush Iranian rural countryside, the artist returns to the studio with a group of roots of plants and flowers, and then photographs them against a neutral background with a romantic yet melancholic touch. Distinguished, in their tacit composure, these vegetable "souls" are the allegory of the many refugees or exiles who experience the daily drama of violent detachment from their land.


Gohar Dashti was born in Ahvaz (Iran) in 1980. She currently lives and works between Tehran (Iran) and Boston (USA). Graduating in 2003 from the Fine Art University of Tehran, she subsequently received her M.A. in Photography in 2005.

She has participated in numerous artist and scholarship residencies, such as the MacDowell, Peterborough, NH (US) (2017)​, the Stiftung Künstlerdorf Schöppingen (DE) (2017), DAAD award (2009–2011), Visiting Arts (1mile2 project), Bradford/London, UK (2009), International Arts & Artists (Art Bridge), Washington DC, USA (2008).

She has exhibited with important museums internationally – such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the West Vancouver Art Museum and the Newport Museum in 2020, the ​Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC (US) ​(2019)​, Boras Museum of Modern Art, Boras (SE) (2019), the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts (MFA)(2018), San Francisco, CA (US)(2018), the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome (2017), the San Telmo Museum in San Sebastian (2017), Canadian War Museum, Ottawa (CA) (2017), the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa, Florida (2016), the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (2015), the Mart in Rovereto (2015), the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney (2015), the Institut des Cultures d'Islam in Paris (2015), the Sharjah Art Museum (2014), the Hong Kong Arts Centre (2014), the San Jose Museum of Art, the San Jose (US) (2014), the Louvre-Lens Museum, Lens (FR) (2014), the Somerset House, London (UK) (2014)​, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (2013), the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (US) (2013) – as well as festival and biennale participations – including the GetxoPhoto International Image Festival, Getxo (ES) (2018), Les Rencontres d'Arles Festival (2017), the Beijing Photo Biennial, Foto Istanbul (2014), the Asian Art Biennial (2013), the Fotofestival of Oslo (2013), Le Printemps de Septembre Toulouse Festival (2012) and the Paris Photoquai (2009).

Her works feature in important public collections, such as those of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; the Museum of Fine Art in Boston; the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), Chicago; the Cleveland Art Museum; the National Gallery of Art, Washington; the Getty Research Center, Los Angeles; the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority of Dubai and the Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon (India).