Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nazee Abbassi: Self-Portraits of the East and West


Yes, you're seeing double, but that's because that's what the photographer intended. With the week's theme on self-portraits, it would be a nice touch to end it with a more personal look at the method and process. In this case, photographer Nazee Abbassi shows her take on her own identity as she photographs herself for a self-study, in effect giving viewers a glimpse of her self-portraits of the East and West.


Nazee Abbassi became internet famous a few weeks ago due to her thought-provoking pictures and is now somewhat known as the Iranian girl with self-portraits of her Iranian and American selves.

She explains that, "This project is a series of self portraits exploring who I am, both as an American and as an Iranian, through photographs. It has always been a struggle for me to explain myself, who I truly am, and how I should or shouldn’t act in given situations. I feel that maybe these photographs will answer some questions. Questions people might have, or even questions I have for myself as a person who has lived with two cultures her whole life. Sometimes I feel confused, proud, and sometimes even awkward about how to simply deal with the differences of the two parts that make me."



While there are obvious differences in her Iranian and American personas, the collection succeeds in bringing out some subtle distinctions apart from her attire. Take for example the picture of Abbassi in her car; her Iranian self sits in the back seat while her American self is in the driver's seat. In another image, the American character toasts with what looks like champagne while the Iranian character prefers soda. These small but powerful differences make these photographs into real portraits.


Contrary to what you might think at first, the differences presented in the images don't break-up her identity but instead makes them clearer for the viewer. While portrait photography strives to capture the real essence of the subject, even the best portraits can't contain the subject's whole self, only an image of the person at the split-second the shutter is pressed.

In Abbassi's case, her different personas captured in one frame helps viewers see her true self.


Nazee Abbassi's self-portraits of her East and West can be found on her blog. The full set of her self-studies are here. And while on the topic of Iranian women, check out this fanciful look at some Iranian teenage girls' fashion choices as photographed by Shirin Aliabadi over here.

19 comments:

R said...

Great shots!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Great find! This is a very interesting series of photos. That one with the car is especially poignant.

Shutterbug said...

I like that her photos tell a story! I have always found different cultures interesting!

T. Roger Thomas said...

I really like these.

Interwebs Fails said...

I like them!

Bill Righteous said...

Too many middle-eastern people in western society.

Maybe you. said...

yea i only watched at her bod...
mmm.. but she could do nice with some make up:) hahah

D4 said...

It's the details that make these a great view. I noticed the car right away, it hit me strong. Just, wow, this is the same person. Such extremes in one person, in a picture.

Anyone else wanna throw a rotten tomato at Bill?

Bart said...

wat...

Generally Disgruntled said...

So simple a concept, but a very powerful look at cultural divides.

R.gers said...

Great pictures, truly shows the divide we create and imposed on ourselves.

TheDollsFactory.com said...

a very interesting concept
loved seeing these photos, she has a very fine technique

come and say Hi
The Dolls Factory

Poetry of the Day said...

never saw it this way

DWei said...

Yeah, I have to say I prefer the American version. The Iranian one just looks... suppressed to me.

Elliot MacLeod-Michael said...

The American one is the one with the birka right?

Banacek said...

That dog doesn't look impressed. Maybe it's critical of the American lifestyle.

My 2 Pesos said...

American or Iranian, she looks cute. (:
Very interesting concept.

r.alsharif said...

It's scary how much I relate to this.

MRanthrope said...

brilliant thing she's done here. I wonder, is her Iranian self terrified of dogs though? haha. She doesn't look too happy in that one photo thats why.

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