WEIGHT: 47 kg
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These haunting black-and-white images tell a tale that many still have yet to know. The result of a deeply personal mission, Golestan entered the Citadel without an official permit. He wanted to publicly expose its interior in three consecutive photo essays in the Iranian daily newspaper Ayandegan in The 61 portraits that made up the final project were edited down from a larger pool of negatives. Over the years in which he photographed these women, he forged friendships with the residents—relationships that helped to create his work and endowed his photographs with empathetic understanding.
Nor could they stop what would happen just a few years later when the district was burned to the ground in a terrible fire set by religious militants aiming to purify the city before the return of Ayatollah Rullohah Khomeini to Iran.
With the fire went the cabarets, the brothels, and the nightlife of this marginalization of Iranian society. In but a fragment of time, the Citadel was no more. The photographs serve as the only memory of these women and the Citadel. Today, where the district used to be, there is a park.
And it is through art that the sociohistorical tale of these women and this district can now be remembered.
The Tate Modern has now dedicated a room to Recreating the Citadel: They now have their rightful chance, and in so doing, also open the rest of the world up to a new postrevolutionary Iranian narrative. By Rebecca Anne Proctor.