Saturday, November 5, 2011
Nazee Abbassi: Self-Portraits of the East and West
Posted by Jay at 6:47 PM
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.