About this title
Amak: "I am Iranian. I was born in 1980, the same year as the Islamic Revolution. I learned how to wear my scarf when I was seven years old. I still remember putting it on for the first time, getting ready for my first day at school. It was me, my mother and a mirror. Two years later my Religious teacher stopped me in the corridor for letting my hair show. She told me to cover my hair completely. She said “When you die, Amak, you will go to hell and you will be hanged with your hair strand over a very big fire for all eternity because you didn’t hide it from the eyes of strangers in your lifetime.”
Six years ago, I was waiting in a reception room, holding the birth certificates of my mother and me. We looked similar in our ID photographs. That same day my fingerprint was fixed next to my image, and my mother’s fingerprint next to her image. Despite the outward similarity of the images the fingerprints were different; the scar I had on my finger became part of my identity next to my photograph. I decided this meant something, that our identities were entwined with these official identities, with these prints and these papers. In the following three years, I collected similar images and fingerprints from different women in Iran. Each was different from the other, and had a story to tell."
About Amak Mahmoodian
Amak Mahmoodian is an Iranian artist and curator living and working in the UK. She graduated in Photography and Documentary Photography (MA) from the Art University of Tehran. In 2015, she finished her PhD on Double Identity, images of women in Iran.
Using a structure that evokes the classic Middle Eastern collections of oriental stories, her research explores the subtleties of specific codes of conduct that influence a person’s behaviour, relationships, sense of self and identity, represented through different media such as photography, video and text.
“I have seen many books in my life , Shenasnameh is one of the special ones . Shenasnameh has sense. The intimate story of the book ,simply and strongly talks about the personal, identical experiences. Shenasnameh makes me to feel more.”
Yumi Goto Independent Curator, Japan
“Amak used simple existing visuals in another context to tell a complicated and very strong story. I am so glad that we hear her voice, especially in these days. She uses it in a very effective way. The tactility of the used materials is very effective. It is a very moving story.”
Corinne Noordenbos Former Head of photography department of the Royal Academy of Art (KABK)
“There are some photobooks where compelling content is let down by mundane design, others where slick design belies weak content. Amak Mahmoodian's Shenasnameh presents a perfect marriage of form and content. It's a modest and intriguing book that you will want to pick up and read straightaway, a book which illuminates rather than preaches, revealing the ties that bind Iranian women in a subtle and moving way.“
David Drake Director of Ffotogallery (Wales)