'Speak the Wind' at Monash Gallery of Art: 2 April 2022 to 26 June 2022
Hoda Afshar is one of Australia’s most intriguing photographic artists. Her work, which encompasses portraiture, both staged and documentary, landscape and video work, contains both astounding beauty and complex depths. In her recent award winning series, Afshar has worked with refugees stuck in limbo on Manus Island, and with whistleblowers speaking out about the military, intelligence services, immigration detention, youth detention and disability care. Her focus has been on those marginalised in front of our very eyes.
For this large, solo exhibition, Afshar has returned to her homeland, to make work on the islands of the southern coast of Iran, in the Strait of Hormuz, where winds have shaped incredible land masses, and tides have brought an ancient and complex group of people together. On these islands, there is a commonly held belief that a wind, known as Zār, can possess a person, and can equally be exorcised from them through an intense ceremony of dance and music.
Incorporating a swathe of portraiture, landscape and video installation, this exhibition, Speak the Wind, proffers an enigmatic view of the rituals and lives that play out within the astounding landscape of these islands. As she uses photography and moving image to ensnare and parse the winds of the Strait of Hormuz, Afshar also grapples with the history of documentary photography; its beauty and its limits. This exhibition is the most extensive solo show by the artist to date, and follows the incredibly well‐ received publication of Afshar’s first photobook, also titled Speak the Wind, by MACK publishing, London.
'Speak the Wind is an official exhibition of PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography (photo.org.au), a major biennial of new photography and ideas taking place from 29 April to 22 May in Melbourne and regional Victoria. Responding to the theme ‘Being Human’, PHOTO 2022 explores the role photography plays in understanding the contemporary human condition. PHOTO 2022 is produced by Photo Australia in collaboration with cultural institutions, museums and galleries, and education, industry and government partners. ‘The theme of PHOTO 2022 is Being Human, and with this series, Hoda Afshar is placing, through the most intensely beautiful lens, humans and nature in an intermingled state. I am so pleased to be showing this series by Afshar for the first time as part of PHOTO 2022, offering audiences a chance to experience the beauty and complexity of this important body of work.’ – Elias Redstone, PHOTO Artistic Director
‘One of the most beguiling and perplexing things that a photographer can do is to seek to represent the invisible. In this series, Hoda Afshar has trained her gaze on the mysterious and intense belief system around the wind on the Islands in the Strait of Hormuz. Through her work, the wind becomes both poetry and reality, and Afshar’s portraits, landscapes and glorious observations show us a place of devastating beauty and confounding mystery that is as entrancing as the ceremony that it displays.’ – Pippa Milne, MGA Senior Curator
‘Hoda Afshar’s new body of work Speak the Wind is presented as part of MGA’s luminary series of exhibitions. The Luminaries exhibition celebrates and supports the practice of artists who are at the forefront of photography in Australia. In Speak the Wind, Afshar has taken a subject that is complex and challenging, not only to explore but also to represent. The resulting body of work is contemplative and immersive for audiences to engage with and within; an exhibition to intrigue, provoke and seduce you. We are delighted to present Speak the Wind as a global premiere following the successful publication of the photobook by MACK.’ – Anouska Phizacklea, MGA Gallery Director