About me

Tahmineh Monzavi

Tahmineh Monzavi (born 1988 in Tehran) belongs to the young generation of promising Iranian woman photographers with a body of work that embodies a mature vision along with a unique and comprehensive outlook on the subjects. She received her BA in photography from Azad University but had begun her activities as a documentary photographer prior to that in 2005 when her passionate eye was enthralled by the existing but not quite publicly acknowledged social issues in her hometown, Tehran. Her documentary photographs venture into the underground layers of the city in order to unveil the unseen and the unwanted, hoping to create a deeper awareness of what is shunned upon or seen as taboo through the public eye.  In 2009 she made her first documentary film to allow the more expressive medium of film open up new horizons to her creative and critical thinking yet clear traces of her photographic background could be seen in her approach to this new medium.

Monzavi is a socially conscious photographer whose works have been predominantly inspired by variety of topics and subjects of interest from her surrounding environment.  The extraordinary diversity seen in her body of work, whether in documentary or stage photography, is a clear indication of her mindfulness and receptivity to a wide range of existing social issues.

From 2007-2008 she worked on a venturous project called “Guilty or innocent” which focused on number of transsexuals, living in the ghettos of capital city; a subject that is not only considered taboo from the country’s religious point of view but also challenges the established traditional and cultural beliefs of populace. The harsh living condition, drug abuse and prostitution are the basic facts that shape the everyday reality of this small community. It is the photographer’s neutrality and her nonjudgmental approach that allows her subjects to reveal their true identity in the presence of her camera. She provides the viewer with the chance to follow the footsteps of the subject and see his or her experiences as intertwined combination of grotesque and normal daily challenges; having been viewed in a different light consequently allows further exploration of preconceptions and prejudices toward one’s fixed social beliefs.

Around the same time she began work on a series that although lacked the controversial, taboo quality of her previous work yet the two series shared a certain subtle conceptual similarity. “Brides of Mokhber al-Dowleh” which was a 2 year project, took on a fresh new approach that turned an ordinary, everyday reality of a working class community which went unnoticed till then, into an evocative subject for the intellect. The series portrays the bridal gown tailors in south Tehran; workers from deprived social classes whose poor work condition testify to their meager livelihood. The mind provoking juxtaposition of the beautiful, elegant and dreamed of white dresses from the feminine world, sewn and stitched by the rough, masculine hands of working class men, sparks an interpretative reaction in any viewer. The series distinguishing quality lies with its wide spectrum of problems it addresses which could perhaps be the reason behind the series success with both the viewers and the critics.

Monzavi is known for execution of exceptionally lengthy projects. She believes working in long intervals provides the opportunity to develop a deeper and closer relationship with her subject while it also gives her the chance to study her subject from different angles in their surrounding environments.

In 2008 a different social issue captured Monzavi’s attention. “Grape garden alley” is an extensive series shot over a period of 4 years, revolving around women addicts, staying at a rehab facility in south Tehran. Once again the photographer toils to unveil another tragic social reality that is either ignored or denied by the authorities. Having served a one month prison sentence Monzavi took a year of; “a period of coming to terms with an altered perception” as she put it. Naturally, the first project that followed was her first ever experience with stage photography “All about me, Nicknamed Crown giver” focuses on her deep feelings of womanhood and the feminine dreams bounded within a run-down masculine structure.

Although a young artist; Monzavi has attained significant achievements over the years. In 2011 she received the prestigious “Sheed Award”; an independent, non-profit social and documentary photography award with internationally renowned photographers as the panel of judges. Her works have also been published by number of reputable magazines such as “Internazionale”, “British Journal of photography”, “Le Figaro”, “L’oeil de la photographie”,”Elle”; they have also been featured in a few photography books like, “La Photographie Iranienne- published by LOCO”, “Iran unedited history 1960-2014” published by Muse D’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris. Her photographs have also been demonstrated in some museums around the world such as "Modern Art Museum of Paris”, "Literature Museum of 
Giorgia" and “ LACMA’”, “Maxxi museum of Roma”.

Monzavi’s works have received extensive international exposure and have been exhibited in many group as well as solo exhibitions in Tehran, Amsterdam, Vienna, Boston, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Boston and South Korea and have been held in high esteem by eminent figures in photography as well as critics. Monzavi is a promising young artist whose work reveals taboos and stereotypes in Iran and Afghanistan through the images of younger women and marginalized people in a rather explicit way.



Awards: • The first prize winner in Black & white Photo festival (Iran art forum) Tehran ,Iran 2009 • One of the Honored photographers in Man festival; Mahriz gallery (Tarahan Azad) Tehran ,Iran2008 • One of the Honored photographers in art and artists category in Image of year; ( Iran art forum) Tehran, Iran 2008 •The second grade of photographing in street theatre at theatre week festival (The Iran art Forum) Tehran, Iran 2008 • One of the elected Photographers, Theatre of the year (Photographer’s Association of Iran) Tehran 2006 • The first prize winner in “Sheed Photo Award” (independent annual documentary award), Sheed is the only competition which is held with Iranian as well as international jury, Tehran, 2011 •Shortlisted in the top 20 photographer for Life Framer theme Humans of the World, by judge Zed Nelson in the USA. 2016 • Receiving an Ipa award; honorable mention in America. 2016 •Received a Tifa Award, honorable mention in Tokyo photography award. 2016
Video & Short Documentary Screenings : • Le Carreau du Temple will program from april 27h to 29th a selection of video screenings entitled « of Sound and Movements » as part of the « Videobox Festival », dealing with questions of urbanism inside contemporary video art. • Paris 2017 -“All about Me, Nicknamed Queen Maker” 1 & 2; videos by Tahmineh Monzavi. The pieces presented are from the collections of the Art Rental and heritage funds of the Municipal Library of Lyon.Oct- Jan 2016 •Video Art “OXYS in black and white” shown in theater halls along with art perform dancers in Athens, Milan and Syros. Oct 2013 •“Grape garden alley”, a 77 minutes documentary film, 2009-2013 •A documentary film on the backstage of “A separation” and “The salesman” two films by the prominent director, Asghar Farhadi ; both of which won academy awards.
Exhibitions :
participate in Arles 2017 festival & speaker on "Iran: year 38" event
“Mokhber al-dowleh's Brides”series in Works from the Collection of Sammlung Verbund; Sammlung Verbund Gallery with the artists: Nan Goldin | Cindy Sherman | Jeff Wall | Antin Eleanor | Bernd und Hiller Becher | Symrin Gill |Aneta Grzeszykowska | Hubbard und Birchler | Birgit Jürgenssen | Joachim Koester | Louise Lawler | Urs Lüthi | Gordon Matta-Clark | Tahmineh Monzavi | Loan Nguyen | Gabriel Orozco | Laura Ribero | Ed Ruscha | Adam Rzepecki | Fred Sanback | Markus Schinwald | Annika Ström | Gillian Wearing | Lawrence Weiner | Christopher Williams | David Wojnarowicz Vienna, Austr march 2017
• Participation at the photography festival at gallery Gerhard Hofland, / Germany June 2016
• "All about me, Nicknamed Crown Giver" at the festival of “Cuore di Persia” (Heart of Persia) Bologna- Italy 2016
Has been selected as a participant in this year's international professional workshops at 12th Angkor Photo Festival in Cambodia -December 2016.
Solo exhibition "A requiem for a desolation" Hinterland Gallery in vienna- November 2016.
participation at the photography festival in Leipzig at gallery Gerhard Holand in Germany - June 2016.
solo exhibiton "A requiem for a desolation" series in cooperation with the Goethe-Institute in Munich Opera Festival . July 2016
The SAMPLING VERBUND will present "The Brides of Mokhber-al-Dowleh" at the BOZAR in Brussels. Exhibition open spaces | secret places brings together works from 1970 to the present day from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND, which address the perception of space and place from diverse points of view. The exhibition is structured into four areas: “Historic Places,” “Psychological Places,” “Spaces In Between,” and “Creating Spaces.” Participating Artists: Vito Acconci (USA) | Francis Alÿs (BE) | Eleanor Antin (USA) | Bernd and Hilla Becher (DE) | Barbara Bloom (USA) | Tom Burr (USA) | Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller (CA) | Ceal Floyer (PK) | Simryn Gill (SG) | Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler (IE and CH) | Joachim Koester (DK) | Louise Lawler (USA) | Gordon Matta-Clark (USA) | Ursula Mayer (AT) | Anthony McCall (GB) | Tahmineh Monzavi (IR) | Ernesto Neto (BR) | Şener Özmen / Erkan Özgen (TR) | Fred Sandback (USA) | Jeff Wall (CA) | James Welling (CA) | David Wojnarowicz (USA) | Nil Yalter (EG|FR)
Imago Mundi collections will be on show, representing five continents: Afghanistan, Australia, Chile, China, Egypt, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Syria, Tibet, Tunisia, USA at the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn (New York) . May 2016
Group Exhibition "All about me, Nicknamed Crown Giver" at The Public House of Art in Amsterdam- Netherlands . May & June 2016
Farkhunda Series in Third Documentary Photography Days in Istanbul/Turkey . May 2016
Chouftouhonna Festival at the cultural center Mad'Art, in Tunis, Tunisia. May 2016
Art Paris Art fair: "All about me, Nicknamed Crown Giver" series . France -Paris .April 2016
participating in CATAWIKI Auction in Amsterdam- Netherlands (Afghanistan series) in February 2016
Paris photo 2015: The Group show of contemporary Iranian photographers, and some of them will be present at the fair – Alireza Fani, Gohar Dashty, Bahman Jalali, Tahmineh Monzavi Next to them: Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Sebastiao Salgado, Francesca Woodman, Mario Giacomelli and many others.
"All about Me, Nicknamed Crown Giver" 1 & 2 are two videos by Tahmineh Monzavi that played next to works of such masters such as Francisco Goya, Honoré Daumier, Jean Dubuffet, Hermann Nitsch, James Nachtwey in To Create Is to Resist. The pieces presented are from the collections of the Art Rental and heritage funds of the Municipal Library of Lyon. October- January 2016
Group Exhibition "All about me, Nicknamed Crown Giver" & "Afghanistan series" in Unseen Art Fair, Amsterdam, Netherlands. September 2015
Photo london Art Fair, May 2015
Solo Exhibition "All about me, Nicknamed Crown Giver" in Silkroad Art Gallery, Tehran, May–June 2015
Group exhibition in Museum (Gijón) in Spain April - June 2015
Solo Exhibition "Review of Tahmineh Monzavis's Artworks" in Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, February 2015
Group Exhibition "All about me, Nicknamed Queen Maker series" in Francis Boeske Projects Gallery, Amsterdam, January 2015
Group Exhibition "Unedited History. Iran 1960-2014" in MAXXI Museum, Rome, December 2014
Group Exhibition "Mokhber al-dowleh's Brides series" my private world. Works from the Collection SAMMLUNG VERBUND Vito Acconci, Cecil Beaton, Tom Burr, Gilbert & George, Symrin Gill, Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar, Louise Lawler, Urs Lüthi, Tahmineh Monzavi, Adam Rzepecki, Jeff Wall, Gillian Wearing, James Welling in Sammlung Verbund Gallery, Vienna, November 2014 - March 2015
Group Exhibition "Mokhber al-dowleh's Brides series" in Paris Photo, Paris, November 2014
10th Guangju Biennale, South Korea, September 2014
Participating artist in "iranomutomorphosis.net". A book consisting of artworks created by contemporary Iranian artists, published by Fabrica (Communication Research Centre for the Benetton Group)، Italy. The presented artwork is part of Luciano Benetton's private collection. August 2014
Solo Exhibition "Mokhber al-Dowleh's Brides series" in Silkroad Art Gallery, Tehran, May–June 2014
Group Exhibition "Unedited History. Iran 1960-2014" in Modern Art Museum of Paris, Paris, May–August 2014
Group Exhibition "Mokhber al-dowleh's Brides series" in Milles Gallery, Sydney, April 2014
" Grape garden", 77 minutes documentary film, 2009–2013
Group Exhibition in Side by Side Gallery, Germany, December 2013
Collected a Group Exhibition "A view of documentary photography in Iran 1987-2013" in Silkroad art Gallery, Tehran, October 2013
Group Exhibition "Dance of the veil" in Side by Side Gallery, Germany, October 2013
Video Art "OXYS in black and white" showed in theater hall with art perform dancers in Athens, Milan and Syros, October 2013
Group Exhibition " Grape Garden", Tbilisi Nights of Photography in literature Museum, Georgia, July 2012
Group Exhibition in SOAS University "High Fashion" Curated by Malu Halasa, December 2011
Group Exhibition in National Portrait Gallery curated by Malu Halasa, London, December 2011
Group Exhibition, "A selection of young talented Iranian photographers" in Silkroad Gallery, Tehran, July 2011
Group Exhibition "Tehran documented" selection of documentary photographs of last 40 years in Aran Gallery, Tehran, July 2010