Shortlist 2016

Amak Mahmoodian

My name is Amak, I was born in Shiraz (Iran)in 1980. I am an Iranian photographer, film maker and curator living in the UK. My work questions the identity, it expresses something personal, which pertains to a general issue in Iran. It explores the subtleties of specific cods of conduct that influence a person's relationships, sense of self and Identity.

The Problem


Few years ago, I was waiting in a reception room, holding the birth certificates of my mother and myself, my eyes began to flick from the picture of my mother to the picture of myself, and back again. A sudden realisation came upon me of what these pictures meant, of what they showed, and what they didnt show. My mother and I, for all our differences, were welded into one being not only by the demands imposed by the conventions of the ID portrait session, but also by the dress codes imposed upon women by the Iranian government. I looked like my mother, and my mother looked like me. But it went beyond that. All of a sudden I realised that all Iranian women were being restricted to look the same, like us; plain faces under hairless scarves. That same day my fingerprint was fixed next to my image and my mothers fingerprint was fixed next to her image. But though the faces had become the same, the fingerprints were different. After that day, I started collecting the Shenasnameh portraits of Iranian women, of family and friends. And with the pictures I collected the fingerprints. And gradually, different stories began to be told and the differences came through; both in the fingerprints but also in faces that, despite the restrictions that are placed around them, still claim individuality and person-hood; by a glint in the eyes, a turn of the mouth, or a raise of the brows. And that is what  this project is about: women who are individuals, women who are more than just a fingerprint or a loose strand of hair. Very small part of her being can show how different she is from the others. She is herself.