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Please note: RPS House is closed for our exhibition install. We will be open again from 10am on Friday 9th August 2024.

Gholam Press 5 Copy 3
CREDIT: Mitra Tabrizian HonFRPS

Mitra Tabrizian and the art of realism

How the RPS Honorary Fellow uses film and photography to illuminate real life

Main image above: Shahab Hosseini in Gholam, 2017

Life is busy for British Iranian artist and filmmaker Mitra Tabrizian HonFRPS as she works on her second feature film, a coming-of-age drama set in Iran.

This will follow Tabrizian’s favourably reviewed debut feature Gholam, released in 2017, with the award-winning actor and filmmaker Shahab Hosseini as an enigmatic Iranian cab driver in London caught between two worlds.  

In 2018 Tabrizian also directed the short film The Insider with award-winning writer Ben Okri, and she is the visionary behind many bodies of photographs, which examine what she calls “the crisis of contemporary culture” by rethinking traditional documentary approaches.  

This has typically involved constructing a scene based on an individual’s story and asking the person or people involved to play themselves in the photograph.  

“Loosely we think about the objectives for documentary to deal with some form of social issues, to look at real life, real people and so on,” explains Tabrizian. “We must be careful not to confuse realism with reality (realism as a form of aesthetic). The aim is to achieve some form of perspective on reality, to talk about the real situation, real people, but the methodology of straightforward photography as I used to do, or as some documentary photographers do, is not sufficient.  

“Something needs to be constructed, something needs to be retold in a sense. It’s a long thesis on why straightforward pictures of reality, if you like, don’t tell you anything about the reality of the situation.”  

The Insider 3

Still from The Insider, 2018

The Insider,Production Still Mitra Tabrizian

Still from The Insider, 2018

Gholam Still Mitra Tabrizian

Shahab Hosseini in Gholam, 2017


Watch the trailer for Gholam, 2017, by Mitra Tabrizian HonFRPS

All images by Mitra Tabrizian

Find more work by Mitra Tabrizian in the March/April issue of the RPS Journal 

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