Catherine David, born 1954, is a French art historian, curator and museum director. David was the artistic director of documenta X in Kassel, Germany, in 1997. She is currently deputy director of the National Museum of Modern Art (Musée National d’Art Moderne) at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. In 2007 she organized a major retrospective in honour of the Iranian photographer Bahman Jalali at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona.


Interview with Bahman Jalali

We want to thank Catherine David, Rana Javadi and the Fundaciò Antoni Tàpies for giving us the possibility to share this interview, which was first published in the exhibition catalogue: Bahman Jalali, Fundaciò Antoni Tàpies, ACTAR D, Barcelona 2007.

Bahman Jalali (1944 – 2010) is one of the most important figures in contemporary Iranian photography. With his black and white photographs he documented the dramatic political events that took place in his country over the years – the Iranian revolution of 1978 – 79, the Iran-Iraq war of 1980 – 88 – as well as the change in urban life and the traditional desert architecture. Bahman Jalali not only left a large photographic record of the history of Iran, during his lifetime he also worked as a collector, historian, researcher and teacher of photography in Iran. He was one of the founders of the first photography museum in his country, started a professorship for Photography and worked together with his wife Rana Javadi on the publication of the photography magazine Aksnameh.

In this interview with Catherine David, Bahman Jalali spoke of the two forces of photography, that of realism and that of time. “The development of photography has meant that now we really come face to face with our own visual history for the first time; our people, beggars, the wealthy, everything”. The exhibition at Villa Romana exhibits photographs from the Iranian revolution (Tehran, 1978 – 1979), Desert architecture (1977 – 1991) and the views of Tehran (2007) series.

Catherine David, Interview with Bahman Jalali