Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Azadeh Fatehrad

PhD Work

Photography, desire and resistance in the lives of women, following the 1979 revolution in Iran

My research, artistic and curatorial practice are intertwined around a process of gathering information and generating new imagery from still and moving images in response to archival material I discover. My overarching interest is in the history of photography and feminism in Iran. While researching my practice-based PhD at the Royal College of Art, I made extensive use of archival photographs including those held at the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main; the International Institute of Social History (IISH), Amsterdam; and the Institute for Iranian Contemporary Historical Studies (IICHS), Tehran. This allowed me to develop new insights into Iran’s Women’s Movement and devise a related series of public programmes including exhibitions, conferences and workshops.

In my project, I am looking at the object of repression (the veil) in the history of Iran through a perspective of ‘indirection’, i.e. from a particular position of fascination and envy, I am suggesting a dimension of beauty and desire. Even though for Western readers it might be more comfortable were I to follow the familiar discourse of condemning the hijab and standing defiantly against the compulsory dress code, but the specific aim of my research is to explore the affective and imaginary dimensions of the acts of covering and uncovering. The constant duality, constant barrier, and notion of individuality are featured in my practice.



  • PhD


    School of Humanities


    Photography, 2011–2016

  • Azadeh Fatehrad was born in 1981 in Tehran. She is an artist and researcher currently based in the Photography programme of the Royal College of Art, London. Her research engages with the feminist history of Iran from 1909 to the present. Her projects explore still and moving image archives, investigating the ways in which the feminist movement has been expanded among urban middle class women in her native Iran. As part of her research, Fatehrad has curated a series of public programmes, symposiums and exhibitions, including the recent exhibition, Hengameh Golestan: Witness 1979, The SHOWROOM London, as well as Iran’s Women’s Movement, Framer Framed, Amsterdam. She has presented academic papers at a variety of conferences and symposiums, such as “The Feminist Movement in Twentieth-Century Iran,” International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam; “Poetic and Politic: Re-Reading of Iranian History after 1979 Revolution,” Delfina Foundation, London; “Moving Pictures and Photoplays:
New Perspectives in Silent Cinema,” University of York; “Challenging Gender, Embracing Intersectionality,” Kingston University, London. Fatehrad has exhibited her work internationally in London, Vancouver, New York and Tehran.

  • Degrees

  • MRes Art Practice, University of the Arts London, 2011; MFA, Chelsea College of Art and Design,London, 2010.
  • Experience

  • Convened the seminar and performance 'The Feminist Historiography', Stockholm, 2016.; Co-curating Hengameh Golestan: Witness 1979, The Showroom, London, 2016.; Co-curating the Hunter of the Wild, The Harrow School, London, 2016.; Convened the seminar The Feminist Movement of Iran-International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, 2015.; Curating 'City of the Future' , Lychee One Gallery, London, 2016.; Co-curating Iran’s Women’s Movement, Framer Framed, Amsterdam, 2016.
  • Exhibitions

  • The Feminist Historiography screening, Index: The Swedish contemporary art foundation, Sweden, 2016; Hengameh Golestan: Witness 1979, The Showroom, London, 2016.; City of the Future, Lychee One Gallery, London, 2016; Iran’s Women’s Movement: On the Archive of Sadighe Dowlatabadi, Solo show, Framer Framed, Amsterdam, 2016
  • Awards

  • The Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual and Applied Artists, 2016. ; Royal College of Art Fine Art Bursary, London, 2015. ; Arts Council of England, London, 2015 ; Royal College of Art Research Grant, London, 2014.; Fellowship at Royal Asiatic Society, London/New York, 2014.; Summer Academy Award for International Artist-Researchers, Helsinki, Finland, 2014 ; Artist Residency Bursary, Nest, Netherlands, 2013; Research Development Residency Bursary, Easthampstead Park Conference Centre, 2013; Artist Residency Scholarship, CAMAC, France, 2012
  • Conferences

  • Fatehrad, A. (Mar 2016). Communal Social and Inter-Political Stage of Curatorial Practice, Seminar presentation, Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE.; Fatehrad, A. (Dec 2015). Poetic and Politic: Re-Reading of Iranian History after 1979 Revolution. Seminar presentation. Delfina Foundation, London.; Fatehrad, A. (Nov 2015). Challenging Gender, Embracing Intersectionality? Seminar Presentation. University of Stockholm, Sweden.; Fatehrad, A. (Oct 2015). Dowlatabadi and The Feminist Movement of Iran, Seminar presentation at International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.; Fatehrad, A. (May 2015). Moving Pictures and Photoplays: New Perspectives in Silent Cinema, Conference presentation. York University, York.
  • Publications

  • Fatehrad, A. (2016). ‘The Feminist Movement and the Enlightenment of Iranian Society in the Early Twentieth Century.’ Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies 5. Duke University Press.; Fatehrad, A. (2015). 'The Moving Image 16, no. 1—Special Issue: Early Cinema and the Archives', Journalism and Mass Communication, 5(10), 513-521; Fatehrad, A. (2013). Robert Mapplethorpe: Fashion Show Review, London: Fashion Research Network.