Fathi turned up at the opening of an exhibition I’d curated in summer 2013 called New Players, New Roles, and was presented to me by one of the artists featured in my show Nooshin Farhid, as she was Farhid’s student. The words ‘very promising‘ stayed with me but I didn’t realise she was the same person when by email we made contact merely on the strength of her photographs. In the school of Cindy Sherman, Fathi plays the wide range of characters in her own photographs, examining the mundane (below), her own heritage, sexuality, repression and symbolism. It was her Qajar series (pictured Harem babes, me and the lover boy) that first caught our eye, with exaggerated, mostly disparaging portrayals of the dynasty that brought photography, amongst other things, to the Persian Empire (1785-1925), replacing the Zand dynasty, and re-asserting Persian sovereignty over much of the Caucasus. What are they often remembered for? Decadence, foreign relations, bankruptcy, resistance to a constitution. How does Fathi relate to that in her day to day life on London’s streets?
I caught up with Fathi at the Photographer’s Gallery, just before she was to leave to live in Iran, and perhaps Canada after finishing her MA in photography at Central St Martins. We looked at the work of three male and iconic photographers together. I wondered how a young artist like her will fare back in Iran. Already our first emails had been about a magazine interview that had completely failed to understand the nature of her work.
What impact would she have in Iran, and vice versa, what impact will being in Iran, or over the Pacific have on her work? Fathi discusses her thinking and adaptive processes, from costumes to the influences of family.
Tune in tonight 19.30-20hrs to hear the conversation, otherwise Sunday 06.30am (!). If you’re one of London’s 7 million inhabitants tune your radio dial to 104.4FM, otherwise listen anywhere online.
We’ll podcast the show later most likely. Find out more about Fathi from her site.