Art Gallery of New South Wales presents first major solo exhibition of Hoda Afshar

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Art Gallery of New South Wales presents first major solo exhibition of Hoda Afshar
Hoda Afshar 'Crease' 2014, from the series 'In the exodus, I love you more' 2014–ongoing, pigment photographic print, 23 x 29 cm © Hoda Afshar, image courtesy the artist.

SYDNEY2.- The Art Gallery of New South Wales is presenting Hoda Afshar: A Curve is a Broken Line, the first major solo exhibition of one of Australia’s most innovative and unflinching photo-media artists, Iranian-born, Melbourne-based Hoda Afshar.

Featuring photographs and moving image works from the past decade, including a newly commissioned series, the comprehensive exhibition provides an overview of the artist’s recent practice and examines the politics of artmaking. Amassed together in dialogue for the first time by a major public institution, these works offer a poignant reminder of the power of images and their coercive potential.

Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand said it is a great pleasure to present Afshar’s first major solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.

‘Hoda Afshar is one of the most exciting artists working in Australia today. While her work explores themes of violence and pain, it also speaks to the transformative potential of image-making which is of profound importance to art institutions, as agents of advocacy and emotional encounter,’ said Brand.

‘Her work gives visibility to marginalised voices and serves as a powerful reminder of art's capacity to embolden, inspire, and move. Her own voice as an artist is a defiantly international one.’

Since she first began working with photography in the early 2000s, Afshar has resolutely insisted on the humanity of her subjects. She is sensitive to the camera’s status as an imperialist tool that has long been used to define how history is told and how power is consolidated. Throughout her practice, she has involved her subjects in the act of photographing them in order to equalise the power dynamic that exists between photographer and photographed and return agency to those she depicts.

Exhibition curator, Art Gallery of NSW senior curator of contemporary Australian art Isobel Parker Philip said: ‘Hoda Afshar’s work is both deeply researched and poetically resonant and can be seen as a form of activism as much as an artistic inquiry.

‘Hoda’s approach is unique in that she makes us contend with brutality, not through blunt imagery but through evocation. Her work is anchored in compassion yet also radical in the way it wrestles with injustice.

‘Hoda’s photographs and videos are emotionally embroiled in the world they depict. It is this fact that makes a survey of her work both compelling and timely.’

Hoda Afshar: A Curve is a Broken Line includes the reveal of a new body of work commissioned for the exhibition, titled In turn 2023, which is a series of large-scale photographs depicting Iranian women who, like Afshar, live in Australia and have watched, from afar, the women-led Iranian uprising that began in September 2022. Presented one year on from when the uprising started, the portrait series is something of an elegy, speaking to their shared grief and their shared hope.

Among the most recognisable works featured in the exhibition, is Behrouz Boochani – Manus Island 2018, which was acquired by the Art Gallery in 2020 from Afshar’s pivotal series Remain 2018, which comprises a video and suite of photographs. Made on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea with a group of stateless asylum seekers, the video and photographs of Remain serve as testimony to the lived impact of Australia’s border protection policy.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, Hoda Afshar: A Curve is a Broken Line (RRP$65) featuring new writing by curator Isobel Parker Philip and writers including Hala Alyan, Elyas Alavi, Behrouz Boochani, Andrew Brooks and Astrid Lorange (working as the duo Snack Syndicate), Taous Dahmani, Shahram Khosravi and Sarah Sentilles.

Hoda Afshar: A Curve is a Broken Line will be presented at the Art Gallery of NSW in the South Building until 21 January 2024. Entry is free.

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