Loads of people have already written about Azadeh Akhlaghi’s series titled “be revayat yek shahed eyni” or in other words, “By an Eyewitness”. But I want to write about it some more. When art is good, it needs to be revisited.

26 April 1974, Marzieh Ahmadi Oskuie, student activist, shot by SAVAK secret police
19 June 1977, Ali Shariati, revolutionary and sociologists, died under mysterious circumstances while being placed under solitary confinement by government

Neda Agha Soltan, a philosophy student, was shot dead on the street during the riots in Tehran in 2009. Neda’s death was caught on video and broadcasted to the world and it got Azadeh thinking. It then took her four years, loads of volunteers, support from her peers and extensive historical research to produce this pivotal series where she documents the often untimely deaths of individuals who changed the course of Iranian collective history.

1 July 1988, Sohrab Shahid Saless, film director, died from chronic liver disease

Words and text are easily forgotten – even a story can slip through the conscious memory. An image, however, is harder to forget.

7 January 1968, Gholamreza Takhti, wrestler and national hero, suicide or murder
17 October 1939, Mohammad Farrokhi Yazdi, poet and politician, died by air injection

Whilst the basis of Azadeh’s work is Iranian history, she pushes the limits of what can be achieved by staged photography, beyond a report on history, culture or politics, back to its human roots. The crying wife, the grief-stricken followers, the untimely unfair death of an individual loved by millions.

10 September 1979, Mahmoud Taleghani, humanist Ayatollah, sudden death after 15 years in jail

In a statement about the series Azadeh wrote: “It is about the depiction of the moment of dying of people who lived decently and passed bitterly, but there is something sacred about their death which has been forgotten or stained.”


Azadeh is represented by Mohsen Gallery in Tehran where the entire series was brought together for a book launch last year.

All above photographs ©Azadeh Akhlaghi – all photographers rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Eyewitness

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