I just came across Shirin Aliabadi’s work and her two series “Miss Hybrid” (above) and “Freedom Is Boring, Censorship Is Fun” (below). In Aliabadi’s pictures, the subjects are young Iranian women who in spite of the oppression of Islam seem to be defying our stereotypes and having a good time. It’s a welcome revision to our view of the Middle East.
“Freedom Is Boring, Censorship Is Fun” like Andrew Bush’s “Vector Portraits” focuses on the way we live in cars to find its insights into contemporary life. Clearly the idea is as valid in Tehran as on Interstate 405.
Aliabadi’s latest series, “Miss Hybrid”, pokes fun at the style and beauty trends among fashionista Iranians, where the current vogue is for blond hair, light-colored contact lenses, occasional facial piercing and most importantly, surgical nose tape. (It's like the current trend for faux glasses.) “Miss Hybrid” Aliabadi suggests, should be seen as an alternative beauty manifesto positing that natural beauty is unfair, elitist, and irrelevant - while artificial beauty and the need to transform into someone else via cosmetic intervention can be regarded as a healthy exercise in cultural rebellion and global integration. Now that's an radical and original concept!