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Old and new values
Photo essay

By Abbas
July 30, 2001
The Iranian

After the presidential elections in June, Khatami's Iran is still torn between reformists and conservatives. Reformists, the great majority of youth, women and artists, want to break free of the restraints of the Islamic Republic. Conservatives cling to the old values by relentlessly exploiting the myth of the revolution and the cult of martyrs.

About his photography, Abbas writes:

My photography is a reflection that comes to life in action and leads to meditation. Spontaneity -- the suspended moment -- intervenes during action, in the viewfinder. A reflection on the subject precedes it. A meditation on finality follows it, and it is here, during this exalting and fragile moment, that the real photographic writing develops, sequencing the images.

For this reason, a writer's spirit is necessary to this enterprise. Isn't photography "writing with light"? But with the difference that while the writer possesses his word, the photographer is himself, possessed by his photo, by the limit of the real which it must transcend so as not to become its prisoner. About Abbas

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IRAN,TEHRAN. Under the tense watch of his bodyguards, President Mohammad Khatami delivers an electoral address to his supporters at the Shiroudi Stadium.

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The photographer

Born a photographer, Abbas, an Iranian transplanted in France, has dedicated his work to the political and social coverage of the South. Since 1970, his major work, published in world magazines, includes wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Ulster, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, South Africa, etc...

From 1978 to 80 , he photographs the whole span of the revolution in Iran. After a voluntary exile of 17 years, he goes back in 1997, before the presidential elections. He goes back regularly to document changes through the lives of youth, women and artists. Abbas is a member of the prestigious agency Magnum Photos. His books include:

* Faces of Christianity (A Abrams 2000)

* Allah O Akbar: A Journey Through Militant Islam. (Phaidon 1994)

* Return to Mexico (WW Norton 1992)

First two books available at

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