Coronavirus made artists change attitudes: war photographer Jasem Ghazbanpur 

May 30, 2020 - 18:48

TEHRAN – Iranian war photographer Jasem Ghazbanpur has said that the coronavirus epidemic has made artists change their attitudes.

“Over these days Iranian and world photographers have made many works and I follow their works. Some of them were really great and some were good enough to display for people,” he said.

“Some of the photos were also inspired by the current situation and were considered as fine art reflecting different attitudes of the artists towards coronavirus,” he added.

“During the coronavirus shutdown, I began to do part of the job I had left behind and put my 40-year-old photo archive in order,” he said. 

“The big problem was that we had lost our income, while struggling with a feeling of sadness and despair, but little by little we got used to the conditions and the negative feelings changed into a positive one,” he added. 

He said that not being able to travel and take photos was the biggest challenge of the coronavirus days for him but little by little he learned to do other things when he saw there is no possibility of traveling. 

“The artists and photographers are not separated from other people in the society. As a photographer, I am no different from a taxi driver or a salesperson. For example, if any one of us would lose our daily income or get sick, we would not have insurance and could not do any other jobs,” he said. 

“I am in the same situation. For example, once I was physically injured and had to stay in bed for months and I had no money and no income. But then again I don’t feel myself to be different from others. I just hope we can all get together and manage to get through these difficult days,” he remarked.

Ghazbanpur said that he was due to publish a selection of his photos in two books during March, but publication was halted due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and that he is still waiting for better conditions to publish his books.

“I have a large number of photos that could be published in several books but it all depends on the current situation,” he said.

In 2016, Ghazbanpur displayed a collection of backstage photos he had taken from the renowned Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s film “Life and Nothing More” in an exhibition at Tehran’s Silk Road Gallery.

The 1992 film is a semi-fictional work based on the 1990 earthquake in northern Iran that killed over 30,000 people, and Kiarostami’s search among the survivors for the actors from his previous film, “Where Is the Friend’s Home”. 

The book of Ghazbanpur’s collection entitled “Life and Nothing More” was also unveiled on the opening day of the exhibition.

His pictorial record of the religious ritual of Arbaeen, which is the end of the 40-day mourning period following the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) and his loyal companions on Ashura, was also published in a book in Tehran.

Entitled “The Fortieth”, the book contains photos of the pilgrims flocking to the Iraqi city of Karbala during Arbaeen to visit the shrines of the Imam (AS) and his brother Hazrat Abbas (AS).

The book was published in 2017 by the Shia Art and Culture Institute and contains photos by 14 Iranian photographers who have covered the annual ritual from 2009 to 2016. The photos have been captioned by Mohammad-Taqi Ekhtiari.

Saeid Mahmudi, Mehdi Tirani, Ali Bayat and Masud Zendehruh Kermani are among the photographers whose works have been published in the book.

Photo: Jasem Ghazbanpur poses for a photo holding his book “Life and Nothing More”. 

RM/MMS/YAW

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