KAMARAN ADLE IN FOCUS
Iran’s foremost living legend in photography
“9 am, a day of Jun 1979 in Evin Prison…covered eyes, long hours of hunger, stress, insomnia and loneliness…. no clue who was going to shot into my head… in those sever moments, I reviewed my life. Age of 12, when I decided to be a photographer…to discover the world…I remembered 20th of August 1968 in Paris. The day I preferred the odor of Persian bazars, seas and smell of workers bodies upon perfume of girls in front of camera so I returned to my ancient land, Iran. Reciting with me ‘this was my own choice’. At least, I had lived in my way…”
Adle continues: “After Islamic revolution of 1979 a huge number of executions happened. In less than 3 months 4500 people related to the court had been executed but who really knows about the accurate number? 100,000? 500,000? One million people? So why I was still remained in Iran? Only because of the decision I made in 20th August 1968, when the Soviet Union soldiers attacked Slovakia. In that day I felt that a lot is happening in this world that the fashion photography seems so stupid in front of them. So I decided to come back to Iran, a place where ‘happenings’ happens a lot.” Few months after Islamic revolution of 1979 Adle got arrested in his office for crime of serving the royal family and Pahlavi court. Spending horrible days in prison, the shadow of execution got disappeared by the help of some connections behind the curtain.
In Adle’s words: “Where do I begin? Should I write that I am from a family of....? You can see all of that on my website. So, what must I write? Of feelings? You may or may not know that I have worked on all aspects of photography, and in all scales, from the Minx camera whose film is in millimeters to film sizes which are up to 4 or 5 inches in width. As an assistant to Roughen in Paris, I also worked with 30x40cm films. Despite all that, I feel exhilarated when I work with a 135 mm camera amongst people, where I submerge in the moment and I take snap shots. Many believe that I am an architectural photographer, I am also that, however my preference is to look at Architecture with emotions. I have written before that Photography is neither a technology nor a technique, not even an art. Photography is a feeling. One does not sense it until one is a photographer”.
Born in 1941, he went to elementary school in Tehran and his high school years were split between Tehran and France. After receiving his diploma from Technical College of Photography in France, he began work at Hamele, the largest developing and printing laboratories in Europe, in the large format photographic printing department.
Six months with Hamele, he became assistant to Jack Rouchon in fashion photography. In 1968, at the invitation of the newly established National Iranian Radio and Television Organization, he returned to Tehran to head the photography team and simultaneously began teaching at the Cinema and Television School for Higher Education. The cinema school stint lasted for a year but he continued with National Iranian Television Organization
In 1971, the students of the School for Higher Education went on a widespread strike and demanded Adle’s return.
He juggled with both the positions till his resignation from the Organization in March 1974.
From 1975 until the Islamic Revolution, he worked with the offices of the ex-Queen of Iran, photographing carpet museums, Reza Abbasi, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kerman Industrial Museum, Rasht Museum and various photography work for publications, including seven volumes on the Implementation of Design in Iranian Tile Works, Passage through Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiyari province, and The Contemporary Architecture of Iran.
“I do not know how photographers who work in remote areas are going to spend their nights? It’s very hard, lonely nights among the deserts and mountains and villages that are not even named on the maps. In the fall of 1970, I worked close to the Iraqi border among the Zagros Mountains of Kurdistan. At night, a man invited me to drinking. I accepted. I finished a cool vodka until I went drunk. I do not remember and I do not know how that night passed? But it was very good. From the next day, I was drunk every night over the past 47 years. Alcohol was my only friend in these years. I also love photography while drunk. In 1976, I photographed the Kerman Museum of Visual Arts at one AM, all drunk over a bet. Did I win the bet? I might. I do not remember. “.
So here is a rich life. But also a lonely life. A life of a man alone at Darwazeh Dolat, an old neighborhood in Tehran, walking into the transition between light and twilight. And the lens here is neither interested in documentation or leading us into a loop of a life story.
The anonymity of Kamran Adle is what the lens seeks. The mundane ordinariness, the day to day frames of invisibility. Being invisible yet political, unobtrusive yet unyielding. It is this paradox of transition, the dialectics of Adel’s life that comes out in the frame.