Installation view of Hoda Afshar’s work <em>The Fold</em> on display as part of NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fenness

Hoda Afshar

Photo: Sarah Pannell

Hoda Afshar
Iran born 1983, lived in Australia 2007–

Level 3
NGV International
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The Fold is a visual and psychological investigation of the French psychiatrist and photographer Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault (1872–1934). The project originated during research at Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, where Hoda Afshar encountered an archive of thousands of images de Clérambault took in Morocco of veiled Islamic women, and sometimes men, through which he sought to explore his psychoanalytic ideas about covering and fantasy.

Marking the first time Afshar has drawn upon an archive in her work, The Fold explores de Clérambault’s significance as a historical figure while also looking more broadly at the way we understand images. Through the recurring motif of a mirror, Afshar invites us to examine our own biases while viewing these images, particularly in relation to the veil.

Each of the components uses distinct visual strategies and artistic techniques, ranging from traditional silver mirroring and darkroom hand-printing to digital animation. For Afshar, these three works unite the main concerns of her research-based practice for a decade, in the artist’s words namely ‘questions about the political and aesthetic representation of marginal subjects and about photography’s role in both reproducing and dismantling such representations’.

Hoda Afshar began her career as a documentary photographer in Iran in 2005, and since 2007 she has been living in Australia where she practices as a visual artist and also lectures in photography and fine art. Through her art practice, Afshar explores the nature and possibilities of documentary image-making. Working across photography and moving image, she considers the representation of gender, marginality, and displacement. Her work has been widely exhibited both locally and internationally and published online and in print. In 2021, her first monograph Speak the Wind was published by MACK in London. Her work is also part of numerous private and public collections.

Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery. Proposed acquisition, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists