February 11, 2009

Americans Come Face-to-Face with Iranians

Tom Loughlin, an American-born lawyer-turned photographer visited Iran three times to capture Iranian life for his installation. In his artist’s statement he describes how he was inspired while taking pictures in the streets of Isfahan.
“I spotted a young Persian man wearing a Dixie Chicks t-shirt. I introduced myself, and I inquired whether his t-shirt was intended to signify his dislike for the American President Bush. He smiled, and replied that the shirt wasn’t just about President Bush. He explained that shortly after the Dixie Chicks criticized Bush on stage, bootleg Dixie Chicks shirts appeared in stores all over Iran’s major cities. He told me that the shirt represented the admiration that he and his compatriots had for Americans’ freedom of speech.”
‘Pictures of You-Images from Iran’ is a multimedia installation featuring photographs and sound from Iran. It can be shown indoors or outdoors. The photographs are printed on translucent silk, and can be viewed from either side. From time to time, exhibit goers will find themselves face-to-face with another visitor on the other side of the portrait.
“I want all Americans to have a chance to come face-to-face with their Iranian counterparts, and I want to document the Americans’ responses to the encounter,” said Loughlin. The exhibition has been shown in Denver during the Democratic National Convention, but he plans to travel with it starting in Los Angeles. The artist also plans on showing it in outdoor venues that are not traditionally reserved for art, such as a NASCAR event, and select state fairs.
Loughlin hopes that Americans will confront their fear of “the other” and the photos of ordinary Iranians will encourage them to look more openly at other nations and cultures. And, ultimately, Loughlin hopes his exhibit will dissuade warmongering by American policymakers.
‘Pictures of you’ will be traveling throughout the United States in 2008-2009. To donate or bring the exhibit to your town click here or contact the artist by e-mail at [email protected]

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