Correct Distance

  • Photography  Mitra Tabrizian
  • Interview  Rachel Speed
  • Words  Anna Sanders

Faces cut like marble shine from darkness, the surveyors of strange scenes, their shadowed presence implicit of sinister motives, of secrets recently discovered. In other images, we are invited closer: moonlit, elegant visages are contemplative and still, eyes look away and look down, and so we remain outside, distant observers. This ambiguity allows for us to read these carefully constructed mise-en-scenès with a degree of distance, of abstraction – yet sinister recognition. Familiar narratives make themselves known to us through considered placement and cinematic sensibilities. Body language betrays power struggles, shadowed men present a warning, and yet whilst this staging reflects film noir tropes, the intricacies of the relationships are left to us. Do you see a mob wife flanked by bodyguards, or a man rushing to her aid?

PYLOT contributor Rachel Speed spoke with photographer Mitra Tabrizian about her first monograph, Correct Distance, in reflection of her cinematic origins as her debut film, Gholam, is due to premier in London next month.

Correct Distance is one of your earliest works. Can you tell us about the original ideas and background to the series, how did it come about?

I produced this project when I was still student.  At school my thesis in the final year focused on the representation of the ‘femme fatale’ in Hollywood film noir during the 40s and 50s, which is where the idea for Correct Distance came from.

The overtones of power and position between men and women are heavy in the series. Do you feel the story you showed in the 80s is still present today?

The ‘femme fatale’ is considered to be the most seductive and desirable, and yet dangerous and unpredictable of women, which makes the power relations between men and women more complex than the usual assumptions that men simply exert power over women.

What did you want the audience to take away from the series? 

There is an implication of narrative in each image, and some allude to specific films. Those who are familiar with the history of cinema and that particular genre may read the work differently and perhaps know the references, but for others it’s open to interpretation – which is equally interesting and valid.


What attracted you to photography as a medium for societal commentary? 

Photography can be used as a powerful tool to communicate.  


Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on? 

I recently completed a feature film entitled Gholam, loosely inspired by a real character: an enigmatic Iranian taxi driver. It launched in the US in May, and will premiere in London at the East End Film festival Friday the 16th of June at Hackney Picturehouse.

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