In Iran, censorship works to limit and suppress the publishing, distribution, and viewing of information considered inappropriate by the Islamic Republic of Iran, that came into power following the 1979 revolution. Unlike the prior secular laws, the new constitution reclaimed the Sharia, an old system of religious laws that is now known as Islamic Law. In accordance with the new Islamic law, the Iranian government established the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in order to regulate and control the press, both national and international. Since its establishment, the Ministry has censored content arbitrarily. Even today, censored content varies and is, therefore, difficult to define. Body parts, such as women’s cleavage; certain religious issues; and even musical instruments are among the censored content. The Ministry of Culture uses a diverse range of technical tricks, like sticky notes and marker pens, to censor male and female bodies. Through these alterations, the Ministry has unintentionally created photomontages, which have ultimately led to new visual and semiotic meanings. In The Islamic Art of Censorship, Ali Kaveh examines the ways in which Islamic law has affected censorship following the 1979 revolution. Kaveh displays a collection of national and international magazines, dating from 1934 to the present. The project includes three parts:
A comparison between periodicals distributed in Iran before and after 1979
Left: Majaleye Shahrbani (Police Magazine), No. 350, November 18, 1964.
Right: Ettelaat-e Banuvan (Women Information), No. 1119, April 4, 1978.
Left: Zan-e Rooz (Woman Today), No. 402, December 23, 1972.
Right: Zan-e Rooz (Woman Today), No. 714, March 17, 1979
Left: Zan-e Rooz (Woman Today), No. 288, October 3, 1970.
Right: Zan-e Rooz (Woman Today), No. 778, September 23, 1980.
Left: Zan-e Rooz (Woman Today), No. 661, December 30, 1977.
Right: Zanan-e Emruz (Women Today), No. 21, March 11, 2017.
Left: Ettelaat-e Banuvan (Women Information), No. 1072, February 22, 1978
Right: Eshragh, No.8, November 21, 2012
Government-censored foreign magazines
American Photographer, Vol. XX, No.5, May 1988.
American Photographer, Vol. XX, No.4, April 1988.
American Photographer, Vol. XX, No.2, February 1988.
Newsweek, Vol. CLVIII, No. 7, August 15, 2011.
The Economist, Vol. 401, No. 8759, November 12-18, 2011.
The fiction magazine RAHA,
“liberated” in Persian, created by the Fabrica Editorial team. Kaveh imagines a publication that is unable to exist in Iran today given the current, on-going censorship of daily life. By combining seemingly ordinary stories of women and men, RAHA presents an Iran free from government oppression, shaping the landscape of a society that today exists only in the minds of the new generations who have grown up in Iran under censorship.