“Stamps of a Revolution,” a solo exhibition by the Iranian artist Ali Mobasser, has just opened at the Paper Mache Tiger showroom in London. The exhibition explores a narrative of the Iranian diaspora after the 1978-79 Islamic Revolution.
Printed and sent from Iran, the stamps were collected in the United States,, photographed in the United Kingdom 30 years later, and taken back to Iran to be reprinted and framed before being sent back to London for display. Mobasser, who is represented by the Ag Galerie in Tehran, was shortlisted last year for the prestigious New Discovery Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles (the prestigious French photography festival).
“The movement of the stamps is reflective of Ali’s personal journey, of distance and reconnection,” said the gallery, adding that the exhibition highlighted “the fluidity of self in the face of passing time.”
Ali Mobasser is the grandson of Lieutenant General Mohsen Mobasser, the former chief of the National Police under the Shah. He was three years old when he left Iran with his mother and father, shortly after the 1979 Revolution.
Mobasser spent the next four years moving between Jeddah, London and San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica) before settling with his mother and her family in the U.S. following his parents’ separation. The letters and packages that the family received from Iran became their only connection to the homeland, and Ali began collecting the stamps that were affixed to them.
Ali continued this tradition until his teens, even after moving to London in 1985 to live with his father’s family. At the age of 12, he placed his album of stamps on his father’s bookshelf. There they would remain for the next 25 years.
“In time, I would rediscover my stamp collection,” he said, “seeing them not just as an account of the first ten years of the Islamic Republic, but as a reminder of those volatile years in my childhood where the stamps served as my only constant.”
“It was in this light that I photographed my collection and conceived ‘Stamps of a Revolution,’” he added. “In 2017, my stamps led me back to Iran after 38 years. I was invited to exhibit the series, bringing the stamps back to their place of issue.”
Ali, a graduate of Kingston University in Surrey, England, began his career as a photographic assistant and later a picture editor and designer. He joined the collective of photographic artists ‘Photodébut’ in 2008.
In 2012, he collaborated with artist and graphic designer Russell Weekes on the “12 Objects” project for The Guardian Weekend Magazine and Guardian Online. In 2014, he was the winner of the Lensculture Emerging Talent award. In 2016, he met Simindokht Dehghani (owner of the Ag Galerie) at Photo London. She invited him to exhibit “Stamps of a Revolution” in Tehran.
Ali Mobasser’s works will be available for purchase until the end of November at Paper Mache Tiger, 26 Cross Street, London N1 2BG.
Primarily a fashion wholesale and communications agency with an adjoining retail space, Paper Mache Tiger is becoming a platform for emerging and established creatives.