SHAFAGH (Dancing in the Iranian Twilight),

16 January till 9 February

In 2015 Klaartje Lambrechts went to Iran for the first time. In the capital, Tehran, she made portraits of people who have turned dance and movement into passion. Black and white images straight from the dance floor alternate with seemingly more classical portraits. The women depicted stand still and are dressed according to the requirements of the regime. Their stories are hidden, but they make their way out through subtle details. A can. A tightly stretched neck with a braid around it. Closed eyes.

In contrast to the fragility and restrained tension in the portraits, the energy in the dance images bursts out exuberantly. Even so, full movement is anything but free of obligation. In the dancers’ movements, the photographer heard an echo of Pina Bausch’s legendary statement: “Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost.”

In the autumn of 2019, Klaartje Lambrechts traveled with two dancers to the desert areas of Dasht-e Lut and Busher, in southern Iran. After the suffocating bustle of Tehran, she deliberately sought out the desolate atmosphere of the awe-inspiring desert landscape. She made a conceptual series on sand dunes, rocks and salt flats. The bodies of the dancers disappear completely in the fabrics that surround them. They explore, they struggle, they test their extensibility. Captured on photo, their contours become sculptures in the vast desert landscape, solidified movement in which the dynamics and the tension are still contained. The series is a beautiful metaphor for dance and movement in Iran, and more broadly, for the entire contemporary Iranian society, in which the same kind of tension is constantly being felt. The fabrics limit the dancers. At the same time, they offer protection to the outside eye. Inside they do what they want; they explore boundaries. The canvases, as it were, lay a layer between people and the world around them. The spectator chooses how she/he interprets that layer.

“Their contours become sculptures, solidified movement in which the dynamics and the tension lie. A nice metaphor for Iran.