Bahman Jalali and his wife and closest collaborator, Rana Javadi, are noted for their sharp documentary images and haunting photomontage works. Driven by the medium’s powerful — and fragile — relationship to memory, they created an unparalleled visual record of a tumultuous period in their homeland.

Living in Two Times: Photography by Bahman Jalali and Rana Javadi runs from August 6, 2022 through January 8, 2023 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. The exhibition features images by both photographers from the iconic series Days of Blood, Days of Fire, capturing events in Tehran during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, as well as pictures from Jalali’s Khorramshahr: A City Destroyed and Abadan Fights On, drawn from his years spent on the Iran-Iraq warfront.

Throughout his career, Jalali returned to his project of observing Iran’s changing lives and landscapes. A third section of the exhibition presents a selection of his images of fishing communities along the northern Persian Gulf. In addition to their documentary projects, Jalali and Javadi preserved early 20th-century archives, which they used as a basis for creating vivid photomontages that explore the role of the medium in documenting history.

This will be the first museum retrospective in the United States that offers a glimpse of Jalali’s extensive practice and the first to be presented together with a selection of Javadi’s evocative work from the late 1970s to the present.

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