Noushin Ourmazd is an Iranian born photographer and artist who's photography examines how the social, political and cultural changes impact the lives of Iranian people, in particular women,
She is an excellent cook. Her food is the anchor that is meant to keep her husband home. His meal awaits his return but she does not know if he will come tonight. She waits. Her world is split between the modern and traditional in the same way that she presents her food. The formal dining environment is at odds with the traditional way of eating on the floor. Her naked legs taunt her covered head. But above all, she waits on him.
Having no specific destination, she waits. She deploys her efforts towards pleasing others, the question is what she gets in return. There is an emptiness that she must confront, always having to bear in mind the conflicts that are imposed upon her.
In her world, the consequences for not obeying are severe. Though she may be comfortably dressed like this, the rules do not permit it in public. The act of showing her hair or her flesh risks causing excitement in men. This is a sin. If she sins, she is beaten. She lives with this knowledge.
Though she may not be seen, she is always on show. She is always immaculately turned out. Shopping reassures her of her position. Shopping is a way of life. She is no longer seen for who she is, but rather how she presents herself.
In her world she must conform. Though she may wish to sing, nowadays her song is a sin when heard by men. She conforms, and still there is no one to hear her. She is silent.
There are two women in this picture. The one we see craves his gifts, the luxury and being spoiled. But he will not give her the security she wants most. That, for now, belongs to the woman we do not see. She waits at home with her status and responsibilities, and her fears.
In her world she must conform. To conform she must rid herself of all that is unique and personal to her character. Instead, she adopts the persona that society is prepared to accept. It is no longer her voice, her spirit or her flesh. She wears the mask that is given to her.
On her wedding night, by tradition, the bride is given a gift of money or gold to free her tongue. This is called Zir Lafzi. Nowadays she is more likely to be guarded about what she says because there may be a price to pay.
Khanom is a Farsi (Persian) word. It is a commonly used honorific in Farsi, used for women, meaning either Mrs, Miss, Ms, Wife, Lady, Woman, Mistress, Mother, Female or obedient.This exhibition embodies the identity crises that Iranian women routinely are subject to, due to an onslaught of socioeconomic and political/cultural pressures.
Who are we?
Our rebellious and free-natured spirit is being suppressed. We are not what we wanted to be and we are not what they want us to be. All this confinement and limitation has caused women to search for their identity in material comforts.
The essence of what choice means in Western society, is absent in Iranian society. Women sacrifice their truth and freedom for financial and emotional security. Whilst not always, this sacrifice in many cases can mean their submission to chauvinism and male dominance. This artist sets out to show this through her work. Each and every material possession shown in her work was placed deliberately and carefully and act as representations of the female's male counterpart.
For change to happen, fundamental changes in the structure of Iranian society are needed.