Untitled, from the series Image of Imagination

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Untitled, from the series Image of Imagination

Series: Image of Imagination
Edition: 3/5
Descriptive: Girl Thinking
Chromogenic print
Image: 10 5/8 x 10 5/8 in. (26.99 x 26.99 cm); Sheet: 20 1/4 x 20 in. (51.44 x 50.8 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by Karl Loring (M.2009.124.2)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Born in Tehran in 1944, Bahman Jalali’s career both spans and engages with the dramatic socio-religious transformation of Iran during the later 20th century. As a documentary photographer and as a teacher, historian, and artist, Jalali has used photography to investigate contemporary Iranian culture, employing the image as evidence that can be rediscovered with the passage of time.

In the series Image of Imagination, Jalali uses photomontage to fuse two distinct Iranian legacies, the Qajar dynasty and the 1979 Revolution, into one coexisting image. By layering early photographic portraits recovered from Nasr al- Dian Shah’s Golestan Palace and documentary footage of a defaced photography studio sign during the revolutionary period, Jalali investigates the complex relationship between past and present in Iran.

The two untitled photographs (see also M.2009.124.1) depict typically unveiled Qajar women gazing past the camera frame. Their placid expressions and harmonious postures are offset by the violent red marks, which obstruct the legibility of the partially reproduced text of the sign and deface the original portrait. The image of the women and the photo studio sign belong to the past while the colorful defacement represents the present day. At a variety of levels, this juxtaposition suggests an image of continuity in a place of rupture. Jalali writes, "In a space between the tangible and virtual, where time is set aside, a world emerges that brings these two realities ever closer."



  • David, Catherine. Bahman Jalali. Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 2007.
  • Schube, Inka, and Katja Roßocha, eds. Bahman Jalali. Köln: Walther König, 2011.

  • Komaroff, Linda. In the Fields of Empty Days: The Intersection of Past and Present in Iranian Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Munich; New York: DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2018.