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Be proud that you honour the arts, outside your borders. For it truly sends a message to the world ... That message is: we are not afraid.... we look towards the future with hope

Newsha Tavakolian's picture

Newsha Tavakolian

2015 Principal Prince Claus Laureate

Iranian photo journalist Newsha Tavakolian is not afraid. Driven from an early age by anger at injustice and a desire to shed light on people who couldn’t tell their own stories, she taught herself photography. By age 16 she was working professionally. At 18, she was the youngest photographer covering the 1999 student riots in Tehran. When it became difficult to work as a photo journalist in Iran, she found more allegorical, artistic ways to convey realities. She extended her practice to other countries, places where it wasn’t easy to be a female photo journalist, like Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. She has gone on to other continents, covering conflicts and natural disasters and making social documentary stories. Her work has gained international recognition, published by global media organisations and exhibited widely at international museums. Still, she insists on her independent vision, returning a French prize that came with conditions that conflicted with the story she wanted to tell.  In all of her work – stills, videos, installations and photo books – Newsha Tavakolian goes beyond stereotypes to uncover deeper, complex layers of reality. 

Photo: From the series 'Listen'  -  Imaginary CD cover for Sahar in the Caspian Sea. Mahmudabahad, Iran. 2011 (c) Newsha Tavakolian, Magnum Photos