During the Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911), Iran’s first revolution, both men and women took to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction with the existing autocratic regime. These protests and the connected revolutionary movement critically impacted the making of modern Iran as a nation state. Photography, which had become available and affordable to the general public for the first time through photographic picture postcards, played a crucial role in this process. Political news was circulated on these photographic picture postcards, complementing lithographed, illustrated newspapers and telegrams, while also playing a role in aesthetic and artistic changes, which led to a new kind of revolutionary portraiture. In this talk I will analyse the role of revolutionary portraiture by focusing on the role photography played in making the revolutionary heroes Sattar Khan and Baqer Khan into nation-wide known and recognizable celebrities. I will then examine how the role of revolutionary portraiture changed at the turn of the century from first providing an authentic document of political struggle to, in later years, the production of photographic souvenirs, a hollow imitation of the first.
Mira Xenia Schwerda (PhD, 2020, Harvard University) is a historian of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art, specifically print and photography. As a Getty/ACLS postdoctoral fellow in the history of art, she is currently at work on her book manuscript-in-progress, tentatively titled “Between Art and Propaganda: Photographing Revolution in Modern Iran (1905–1911).” Cross-cultural contact and translation play a key role in her work, she is the co-editor of the journal “Art in Translation” and has published her academic work in both English and Persian. Dr. Schwerda has worked at the Harvard Art Museums, where she curated the photography section of the exhibition “Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran” and is the co-founder of the “Virtual Islamic Art History Seminar Series.” She has taught courses in the history of photography, Islamic art history, and South Asian art history in the Department of Art History at the University of Edinburgh. She is a founding member and the managing director of “Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online.”
The lecture is for members and their guests and will be held at the Army & Navy Club, in the Drawing Room, preceded by the Annual General Meeting.
Those wishing to attend will be required to register beforehand, as space is limited.