Faces, Bodies, Personas: Tracing Cuban Stories is a collection of black-and-white photographs, portraying the gay and artistic community in Havana. This rich collection of almost one hundred portraits--weighty but serene, ambiguous but lucid, playful but sober--is a recent addition to the diverse documentary oeuvre that has taken photographer Babak Salari around the world several times, from Afghanistan to Mexico to the discreet newtorks of his felow Iranian-Canadians.
It is interesting that the larger project Faces, Bodies, Personas, composed principally of portraits of Cuban arists and intellectuals, incorporates a smaller, semi-autonomous series originally called Queer at the Margins of Society. Despite the realist sobriety of black and white photography, the two gropus come together quite felicitously; for both groups are about performance--the performance of identity, whether professional, social, gender, or sexual. These performances are caught with backgrounds that are bare or else textured with the patterns of everyday life.
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Babak Salari is a Montreal-based photographer and educator who chronicles lives at the margins of society. His documentary projects include: Iranian artists in exile; matriarchal, indigenous communities in Mexico; and gays and transvestites in Cuba. Recently, he documented those displaced and brutalized by war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Palestine. His interest in photography began as a teenager in his native Iran where he contributed to various publications. At the age of twenty-one, his political activities resulted in his imprisonment for six months by the Khomeini regime. Upon his temporary release from jail, he fled to Pakistan and, a year later, arrived in Canada where he resumed his study and practice of photography. His new multimedia work The Colour of My Dreams, examines death, exile and love.
Babak's work has been exhibited internationally and published in several magazines. His first book Faces, Bodies, Personas: Tracing Cuban Stories was published by Janet 45 in Bulgaria in 2008. He has received many awards including a Gold Addy from the American Ad Federation in 2004 for his work Locating Afghanistan.
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