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Project Space: Kaveh Golestan


Kaveh Golestan, Untitled (Div O Dad Series), 1976, Polaroid, 9×8.8cm, Courtesy of Kaveh Golestan Estate

The Fantastical Polaroids of Kaveh Golestan, circa 1976
Presented by Archaeology of the Final Decade
Curated by Vali Mahlouji

The Art Dubai Modern Project Space includes a
series entitled “Az Div o Dad” (Polaroids, 1976) by
photographer Kaveh Golestan, a rare and important
series of works unseen since 1978.
In 1976, Golestan, an artist now more recognized
for his documentary photography, created a series
of innovative and striking Polaroids by moving
collaged fragments in front of an open shutter over
long exposures. The process created fantastical and
surrealistic works that blend fairytale and history.
The images are visions of anthropomorphic figures
set against natural and architectural backgrounds
with references to modern and Qajar era histories.
These works open a window onto an experimental
side of Golestan’s practice, which has received little
critical exposure to date. The “Az Div o Dad” series
is accompanied by a display of original artworks and
collages, which shed light on the processes involved in
the creation of the final Polaroids.
As a medium, the Polaroid is an important
photographic format, which was used by artists
including David Hockney, Helmut Newton, Ansel
Adams, Andy Warhol and Andrei Tarkovsky over a
short period of time.

Kaveh Golestan (1950-2003) was an influential
Iranian pioneer of documentary photography and
a recipient of the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1979.
Golestan was killed in Kifri in Northern Iraq while
documenting the war in 2003. The archive of the
late photographer contains some half a million
negatives, documenting the social and political
history of Iran during the second half of the
twentieth century. Most of the work of Golestan
remains unseen to date. The exhibition is aimed at
raising awareness about the historically significant
Golestan archive as a whole. Archaeology of
the Final Decade aims to raise support for the
conservation and digitization of this significant
historical archive.

Vali Mahlouji is a London-based independent
curator and writer and adviser to the British
Museum. Recent exhibitions include ‘Kaveh Golestan
– The Citadel’ at Foam, Amsterdam, and co-curator
of ‘Unedited History (Iran 1960-2014)’ at Musee
d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and MAXXI, Rome.
His current project Archaeology of the Final Decade
researches overlooked and underexposed artistic
material from the 1960s-70s. Upcoming curatorial
projects will be appearing at the Whitechapel
Gallery and Photo London, Somerset House.
His book, “Perspectives on the Festival of Arts,
Shiraz-Persepolis” is due out in 2015 (Black Dog

This project has been made possible with the generous support
of Shulamit Nazarian, Shannon Niehus and anonymous donors.

Curator: Vali Mahlouji
T: +44 79 90575365