Born in Tehran, Iran, I moved to Canada with my family in 1999 and settled down in Toronto, Canada. I was always interested in photography, often playing around with my parent’s point-and-shoot.
I remember the first photograph I captured that left a lasting impression on me was from our trip to the historical site of arg-e-bam in Iran in the late 90s. However, I stopped taking photographs until I was in my undergraduate years studying architecture.
That’s when I started shooting again and began recording urban landscapes of Toronto. Over the next fews years following my graduation, the passion for photography turned into a full-time obsession and I decided to pursue it more rigorously by enrolling at School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa which I graduated in 2012.
How I work usually begins with an image. I dissect its visual elements, analyze it and try to understand where the attraction lies. Forming an idea around my findings, I embark to create a more intended response. Most of my photographs are minimal with strong graphic elements, where photographic craft and visual intent coexist. Without being personal, my work is a personal statement: standing in a distance, creating an invisible barrier, I ask my audience to look. I focus on varied subjects but my work which addresses the ideas of place, identity and existential experiences focuses on mundane and ordinary settings. Although I have been focused around portrait and landscape, In 2012 I created the nude series SOMA, which is concerned with questions of bodyownership, grace and profaneness of flesh as it is lived.
SOMA depicts how at different ages, or stages of our lives, we acquire different markings that keep our bodies tied to our experiences. We also create marks of our own to remind us of certain times of our lives. It is how we learn to own what is essentially our being, lacking only the psyche. The flesh, with its grace and profaneness, becomes a keepsake — an object that we perpetually make and remake, and at times accept its new form as our age and experience grow.
Exploring to find a fitting visual language, I became interested in Irving Penn and his use of dip-bleaching of silver-gelatin prints. Photographic bleach (Potassium ferricyanide) eats through the silver and distinctively erodes and tints each print, unraveling the flesh. Each marking, tinting and erosion is different, making it impossible to create two identical prints. As the process smoothens the flesh, it highlights imperfections. As it hides the shadows, it underlines the form creating an abstraction.
The form, constructed settings and the process all aim to create a sculptural parallel that represent the lived body. It is at their intersection that the desire for the ideals of nude photography collide with the the profaneness of flesh. In each print, the paper claims the image on its surface, each of a unique body, the print becomes a singular photographic object. These dip-bleached prints are then scanned, enlarged and reprinted digitally on archival paper. [Official Website][Five minutes]
The SOMA project has received many positive feedbacks and have been featured in Silvershotz Folios 2012, Creative Quarterly 31 and American Photography 29. I have been exhibiting my work regularly in Ottawa and Toronto and you can view more of my work on my website: www.samandeilamani.com
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