Shenasnameh: An Interview with Amak Mahmoodian

Amak Mahmoodian’s new book, Shenasnameh will be launched at Photobook Bristol on Friday. Published jointly by IC Visual Labs and RRB Books, Shenasnameh tells the story of Iranian women throught their fingerprints and the identity photographs they must make for their Shenasnameh (a passport like book which is a birth certificate and identity document). It’s a beautifully made book that mixes an attention to the vernacular uses of the identity photography with love, compassion and feeling for her fellow women. It’s a book of personal identities that come through eyes and looks and the turn of the mouth, mixed with official identities of fingerprints and photographs rejected due to an ‘excess’ of make-up or hair.

The project started 6 years ago when Amak was having her Shenasnameh picture taken with her mother.  These are the heartfelt and very beautiful words that Amak says about the project.

Shenasnameh ICVL Studio-RRB Publishing(001 )Shenasnameh ICVL Studio-RRB Publishing(009 )

The idea came to me immediately. I saw the pictures of myself and my mother in the day and I went home and thought, I’m going to make a project about that. The same day I started asking my neighbours if I could borrow their birth certificate photographs.

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