Accepted Paper:

The Shameless Taboo  
Nasser Teymourpour

Paper short abstract:

Nudity undertakes a strange journey in Iranian culture. From the Qajar era onwards, the status of nudity enters another phase. In my perception, photographs of the nude Pahlevan men are the most interesting of all, but What if Pahlevani in Iran would have been the subject of a feminine culture?

Paper long abstract:

Nudity is an erratic taboo that undertakes a strange journey in Iranian art. During the pre-Qajar miniature painting era, nudity in art was exclusively restricted to maniacs, demons and women. From the Qajar era onwards, especially after the arrival of photography in Iran and its growing popularity, the status of nudity also enters another phase. From women of the royal harem to Pahlevans*, all were now subjects of nudity in art.

In my perception, photographs of the nude Pahlevan men are the most interesting of all. It seems as if from the beginning, based on an unwritten rule, a specific visual culture and etiquette was being followed. It represented a masculine culture, rough, and at times unnatural and fake. Observing these heritage traces, a question appeared in my mind which I wanted to try to answer: What if Pahlevani** in Iran would have been the subject of a feminine culture? How would the visual standard have changed? I decided to test this and learn through a limited sample of Iranian women volunteers who agreed to be naked in front of my camera. As a result, I reached some very interesting conclusions.

It turns out, there has always been a feminine taste and version of this Pahlevani culture; a characteristic that became clearly observed in my photographs. It is a characteristic that is hidden in the secret den of the chest of Gordafarid's** descendants.

*Pahlevān: Athlete, warrior

**Gordafarid is one of the heroines in the Shāhnāmeh

Panel P049
Beauty and the Beast: photography, the body and sexual discourse in the Middle East and Central Eurasia