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Film and Discussion: Gazing through a Lens—ʿAli Khan Documents 19th-Century Iran

Double Page from the Album of Photographs by ʿAli Khan Vali, Iran and Russia, 1862–1900. Albumen silver prints mounted on sailcloth. On loan from the family of ʿAli Khan Vali to Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University, AKP111, TL41576.1.


Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

This film project by Azadeh Tajpour explores a remarkable album of photographs created by ‘Ali Khan Vali (1846–1902), long-time governor of the province of Azerbaijan in northwestern Iran and an avid photographer. The album, on view for the first time in the exhibition Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, is a unique collection of more than 1,400 photographs annotated with handwritten text across its 440 pages. ‘Ali Khan Vali’s meticulous documentation of landscapes, settlements, historical monuments, and everyday life illuminates a critical era in Iranian history.

Following the screening, Tajpour will discuss her work-in-progress and the process of making a film based on this striking album, which is currently on view in Gallery 3600.

Azadeh Tajpour is a multidisciplinary artist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She holds an M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University and is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Fellowship, and artist residencies at The Studios at Mass MoCA, Virginia Center for the Arts, Boston Center for the Arts, Art Omi, and more. She has exhibited in Boston, Los Angeles, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Iran.

The screening and discussion will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Please enter the museums via the entrance on Broadway.

Free admission

Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.

Support for this program is provided by the Richard L. Menschel Endowment Fund.