On Friday, I got to know Tannaz Amin. She is raven-haired, smokey-eyed and has a brilliant smile. It makes sense that her work is reflective, fun, and filled with emotion. Tannaz works in advertising and studied graphic design in Tehran but defines herself in the first instance as a photographer, as an artist. She tells me, nostalgia, history and heritage are central themes in her work.
As much as I like her photography which I talk about below, I gravitate most towards the work Tannaz began to produce recently with neon lights. The pieces look fresh, bright, new, fun, avant-garde. However, when you look closely, you realize that her subject matters are ironically obsolete objects. Even her medium – neon tube lights – are quickly becoming a thing of the past, replaced by LEDs.
The much-loved cassette tape
The TV box – dependable companion.
I love the warm nostalgic feeling that things of the past stir up in our hearts, and although her subjects are obsolete, they sure make me feel warm inside. She tells me about this new direction in her art: “At some point, most things which are a substantial part of our daily life, things we take for granted, become obsolete. Even we ourselves, at some point become a thing of the past.”
I agree with her, we will all belong to a bygone era at some point. But what I think makes Tannaz’s work powerful is that it tells the honest truth about our fate. It also reminds us of that redeeming factor in our inevitable fate – the promise of on day turning into someone else’s warm memory, becoming nostalgia. It is very comforting to know that one day, when people think of us and our bygone era, they may be moved, feel warm inside and perhaps smile. It is nice to be remembered just like the beloved casette tape of our youth.
For her university thesis project, she created an interactive photo book piece titled Those Days of War. This piece juxtaposes photographs she took of specific details of famous war photographs from the Iran-Iraq war, with her phrases, which she printed on transparent pages. Her comments appearing paged on top of each photograph. The result is an interesting commentary on how we view war and how it has defined Iranian identity.
Tannaz elaborated on her work by saying that she was born after the war (1986). She didn’t see it, experience it or know anyone who died in it. Yet, she says, even though we had no say or part in this recent history its such a defining part of who we are as the youth of today. We grew up with images of martyrs plastered on walls, school-books and billboards. We are at once filled with ideas about our past but also with ignorance and misunderstanding. It is not a history we took part in, yet we must live with its consequences. I think Tannaz’s interactive photo book illustrates what this feels like.
In her next series, she once again decided to zoom on details she deemed important. After all, she explained, it is often the small things that stay with us, stick in our memory, travel with us through life and move us. An interesting facial expression, a shoe, a piece of jewellery …