“Somayeh,” from the series Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album by Newsha Tavakolian (b. 1981, Tehran)

Newsha Tavakolian began working professionally at the age of sixteen covering major events in Iran, such as the student demonstrations in the late 1990s and the 2009 presidential election. Over the last decade, Tavakolian has focused on more personal observations of daily life in Iran. She has been especially attentive to bringing greater visibility to women and the younger generation.

In Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album, published in 2015, Tavakolian tells the stories of individual Iranians through a series of nine chapters. As if “filling in” the pages of a personal album, images of the individual at work or leisure are interspersed with shots taken throughout Tehran, creating a fuller view of his or her environment. The “Somayeh” chapter consists of thirteen images that begin with the story of a single woman determined to live and work in the city. Photographs of her are juxtaposed with moments taken in other women’s homes and on the streets of Tehran. Together, these images offer a powerful portrait of quiet resilience and complement the chapter on Sami, also in the museum’s collection. The photographs are presented in a book format, lending a sense of intimacy and connection to the subject.

color photograph of a woman in burgundy top and green headscarf holding a brown purse glancing down and standing in front of leafless branches
“Somayeh,” from the series Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album Newsha Tavakolian (b. 1981, Tehran) Iran, 2014–15 13 ink-jet prints mounted on board Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S2021.3.1a-b