Interview with Photography alumna Golnaz Shahmirzadi
Golnaz is currently showing her series, Men in Transit at 625 Gallery
In your most recent series, Men in Transit, you photographed young Iranian men in varying environments. How did you come about choosing this subject?
The choice of this subject matter was very personal and relevant to my brought up in Iran. I also, wanted to bring into light the difficulties that immigrant men have to face in the light of cultural extremes. I strive to make most of my fine art effort in bringing to light the social injustices and my work has been a commentary on the issues that we overlook on a daily basis. My last series before Men in Transit was called Forbidden beauty , which was related to the feminine side, so it was a due element for me to think about the flip side of the coin, as I personally observed and studied the issues that these young Iranian men face in this highly competitive and aware society.
You mention that the dreams and futures of these young men are “placed in transit.” Could you elaborate a little on that and how you represent that concept in your work?
Yes, I specifically chose the term “placed in transit” in lieu with my thesis. It is meant to describe the transient nature of goals and thoughts about the future set forth by the subjects I interviewed and photographed in my project. Almost all of them are striving to be the best in this society by attaining more and more opportunities with no end in sight, but they also talk about the idea of going back to their hometown later to have their own home and be close to the culture they were brought up in.
It is a tough emotion to process and represent in a fine art manner, and I tried to make this a very important element of my photographs by adding details like basking in the sun while sitting on a thin side rail of a gate opening to an unknown place.
There is a dreamy quality to the work; the colors are subdued and the subjects appear somewhat removed. How does this build on your theme of “transit” and your overall thesis?
Again, the idea of “transit” is part the cultural dis-assimilation that the subjects feel living in this society. Also, they all had a dream of coming to this society and take care of their financial hardships and the conservative nature of their lifestyle. Whereas, in fact they found themselves longing for that dream after crossing the barriers into this new world. I have tried to encompass these emotions by imagining a dream to represent their current state.
Prior to living in San Francisco, you studied Graphic Design at the University of Science and Culture, Tehran. How did that education experience differ from you experience as a student at the Academy of Art University?
I guess it would be unfair for me to compare the two institutes, as I went for undergrad studies in the former and graduate studies in the latter. I have learned a lot from both these institutes, but the most important change I experienced in my life was just living in San Francisco. Academy was a tough school to go through based on the academics, but in all it was an essential learning experience for me as I found myself challenged a lot and learned a great deal that way.
What are some upcoming projects that you are working and where else can viewers see your work?
I would defer from disclosing my upcoming projects as yet. But, most of my work can be seen from my website www.golnazshahmirzadi.com