Milad Karamooz’s photograph “The Kiss” depicts two half-naked men. One is seated with eyes closed, a lace harness across his chest and scissor blades across his lips; the other stands behind, a fitted black glove around the seated man’s throat.
The work won third place in the upcoming “Focus Iran 3,” a juried exhibition of 42 contemporary photographs and videos that constitute the third biennial of the Farhang Foundation. The nonprofit, which promotes Iranian arts and culture, chose a theme of Iranian youth culture this year, and the show opens at the newly named Craft Contemporary(formerly the Craft & Folk Art Museum) on Jan. 27. At a ceremony Jan. 25, the top three winners will be awarded cash prizes, although Karamooz won’t be there to accept in person. Discouraged by President Trump’s latest travel ban, the Tehran-based artist didn’t even try to obtain a visa.
It’s not the first challenge Karamooz has faced with this particular work. The photograph, which he said in his artist’s statement addresses growing up “as a minority in a society that is deeply influenced by religion, tradition, patriarchy and violence,” was supposed to be part of a group exhibition in 2016 at Mehrva Art Gallery in Tehran. But government authorities in Iran deemed the subject matter inappropriate and the photograph was eliminated from the show.
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