Mohammad Reza Tahmasbpour


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Composing Poetry with Photographs

  • March 10 to April 15, 2014
  • Reception: Thursday March 20, 2014 at 5:30 pm
  • Artist Talk at 6:00 pm

Often while in the act of photographing, I encounter this question in my mind, “Why do I take photographs?” Whether I have taken a photograph or not, what happens to the existence of the potential photographic entity in the world? Or what will happen to it once its presences becomes seized by my lens? I am confronted with this question when faced with the cityscapes and landscapes of the remote areas of Iran and the rest of the world. Yet rather than wait for the desired response to come to me, I have already taken the photograph, and at other times, I have already composed them. Rarely do I display them in ordinary ways. They are written like a notebook of poetry by a nameless poet who inscribes the murmurings of his soul onto paper. Nature is very much an inspiration to me. Sometimes, the odd and remotes spaces of the desert, the forest, and the sea give me repose, and I am moved to write them into photographs.

Yet in this act of composing, I wrestle in a contest between the classic rules of composition and the emerging images of the landscape until I am face-to-face with them. Sometimes with a simple glance or with methods even simpler, I bring technique to picture-making so that the images in my photographs become manifest, like the forgotten words of poetry that are, at the same time, known to everyone.

For me, photography is a kind of revelation. Simple composition, but also the complexity of the world, brings forth an image into existence; just as in the real world, the core of the image has a diversity of form and meaning, or at least, it strives to have form and meaning. It is a mixture of form, light, and color that evokes ethereal spaces. These are the phenomena—the quiet spaces and the eternal stillness undisturbed by the presence of others—that I seek to give existence to in my photographs. This view of nature is seen in most of my photographs.

In other photographs, I struggle until a vision of my experiences, embedded within the secret places of myself, touches the viewer, producing a sort of empathetic participation that speaks of the impressions and feelings of this vision’s essence. The viewer, then, partakes in the process of photograph’s formation, just as the photographer himself unflinchingly sees his subject, thus making the composing and process of the image interactive. Taking photographs is a formidable challenge, perhaps as all forms of artistic production are. In creating a picture, one must carve out a passageway from the thousands of possibilities, leading the viewer to the expression and longing of just one personal worldview; it is like composing a poem with a few select words from a myriad of utterances.