Iran’s Giant Shoe Box of Faded Photographs, Full of the Unexpected

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TEHRAN, May 29 — When Shadi Ghadirian was 21, she got a student job printing old photographs at the small photography museum here. She was so drawn by the 19th-century pictures of women with thick black eyebrows wearing head scarves and short skirts over baggy pants that two years later, in 2000, she began incorporating the imagery into her own photography.

Using clothes from the late 1800s, she dressed female friends and posed them in front of painted backdrops to look like the women in the antique photos. But her women appeared with something modern: a newspaper, a tape recorder, a vacuum cleaner.

The shots became known as the Qajar series and made her one of Iran’s most famous female photographers.

“My pictures became a mirror reflecting how I felt: we are stuck between tradition and modernity,” she said in an interview here....

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