Hashem Shakeri

2015 Commended


Iran, Multi Piece Identity

“He who knows one, knows none” says Goethe. Max Muller, the famous British-German Orientalist believes the same thing about religion :”he who knows only one religions, does not know anything about religions”. We can generalize this saying and say: “He who knows only one thing, does not actually know that thing” or “he who knows only oneself, does not actually know the self.” The latter is the basis upon which I aim at investigating the concept of identity in my country, Iran.

I attempt, through the following project, to show how Iran’s government after the 1979 revolution has put its people in a paradoxical life through depriving them of the concept of “the other”, turning them into identity-less and lost beings despite their historical and cultural background.

Iran’s government insists on only one religion, one costume (the obligatory Hijab), one political belief, one way of life, one kind of sorrow and one type of happiness; it denies its citizens the right to be the other, think about the other and believe in the other.

I attempt to show that the consequence of such unification would be depriving the people of the right to know “the self”. “The Other” is not allowed to express itself, so no one will not be able to know himself or herself either. “The self” represents itself only through the mirror of “the other”; unfortunately, he who omits the other is doomed to omit himself. The other(thinking it, being it, living it) is forbidden to the post-revolutionary Iranian; the weak other which is present in this country is not recognized and is usually banned.He who thinks about the other is not allowed to write about it or publish what he thinks; most of such thinkers are in the prisons right now.


The obligation to be partying on a specific day and lamenting on another, the ban on satellites, the filtering out of websites (such as Facebook and some other websites) and social networks, obligatory Hijab, the ban on alcoholic drinks(the punishment for which is being lashed ) and etc. These issues are present in people’s private lives despite their legal and social boundaries. Therefore, people start to believe in a set of meaningless words; also, considering the fact that all of the above are against the laws recorded in the constitution of Iran, doing them will generate a sense of guilt in everyone’s mind and character. This is one major reason why people lose their identities and give in to a set of paradoxical actions some of which will be expounded on in the present paper. The government’s attempt to unify the society and its interference in the private lives of the people deprives the people of the possibility to express their real self in the outer surface of society; this is the process which will result in the fragmentation of the character and makes one unable to know the real “self”.


Finally, what the present project tries to talk about is the influence of all the above factors on shaping the fragmented Iranian identity. I would like to show the world all “the others” who are removed from the outer surface of society through my photographs. The society of Iran is highly colorful in its essence, but it has become black and white on the surface due to the restrictions dictated to it by the government. I would like to show this veiled colorful identity, this fragmented character, this paradox, this face which has become hidden under a mask of black and white; a face filtered out by the government.

About the Photographer

Hashem Shakeri was born in Tehran, Iran in 1988. He studied architecture in TAFE (New South Wales Technical and Further Education Commission of Australia) and also participated in the Photography Foundation Program at the same university. He began practicing photography in 2007 and started a professional career in documentary photography in 2010. Since then he has been working as a freelance on arrange of commissions and private projects in Iran, Turkey, Korea and Malaysia.
His main concern in documentary photography is to explore human relations and social justice. Through his photography, he tries to depict the lost identity of the modern man/woman.
Hashem Shakeri has been working as a photojournalist for various Iranian news agencies and newspapers since 2008. He has taken part in 50 national and international festivals and has won more than ten awards.
His works have been published in numerous publications around the world and he has been a member of the Iranian Photographers Society since 2010.
He has also had experience in making feature films and documentaries, in one of which (“Aura”) he worked as the director of photography.