‘Khanom’: title, term of address, woman, mother, mistress and obedient.
Talk about loaded.
Iranian-born photographer Nourshin Ourmazd explores these complex themes in her small studio exhibition. Examining the crises of identity faced by Iranian women, she hints at the restrictions placed on women by material and financial dependence and the psychological stress it generates.
Some pieces focus on women who literally ‘buy into’ this dominance as a trophy wife or try to remodel themselves into other ideals. We found the piece showing a middle aged woman in the guise of a virginal and overtly feminine young bride particularly harrowing. The necessity of wearing social masks is addressed, with transgression and a little casual violence included.
Overall, it focuses on the tension of uncertainty in oneself or one’s place in the world. While these themes are not new, they are saved from being prescriptive by the subtlety of the artist. Details draw you in to look closer again at the whole:- picture frames on a sideboard, a wisp of cigarette smoke or a man’s jacket slung across a chair; suggesting rather than announcing a dominating, unseen presence.
By Amy Barnard
Exhibition closes Thursday 14th October at 5pm. Red Gate Gallery is at 209a Coldharbour Lane SW9 8RU.