Soul train - By Luke O'Neil | The Boston Globe - October 23, 2007

"How many times have you seen a story unfold on the train where you wished to have taken a picture?" asks photographer Naveed Nour. Over the past two years, Nour has logged a lot of miles on the MBTA. He has also traveled on trains in cities like London (left), Cologne, Paris, and Stockholm. "It was amazing how our lives are similar in all these cities," he says via an e-mail exchange. In "From Boston to Stockholm on the T" the photographs show "some of the magic that goes unnoticed during our rides." Nour appears tonight at an exhibition of his photos. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. Watertown Free Public Library, 123 Main St., Watertown. 617-972-6431.

Rediscovering the Viewfinder

By Denise Taylor, The Boston Globe - July 5, 2007

Denise Taylor of Boston Globe described Naveed’s work as "A flurry of black-and-white street scenes that recall the work of French photographer Robert Doisneau were easily caught by his lens. …. But Nour is not stuck in the past. His new work moves into an entirely new realm for him: color and dreamlike tableaus."

Read the entire article: "Rediscovering the Viewfinder"


Naveed Nour, Movements in Adagio

By Sarah Fagan, Artscope - June 27, 2007

Subjects photographed in transit, emotionally charged environments, a theatrical performance with heart and soul--this summer, take some time to appreciate images and works of art that are, in some way, "moving." This week brings the last chance to see the work of photographer Naveed Nour at the Armenian Library and Museum of America, located in Watertown, MA. Nour's solo exhibit is entitled Movements in Adagio, described as "a search for reality, or the lack of it in a dreamlike world." Nour's unique photographic series chronicles daily city life in an eerie splendor as it embraces color, movement, and the transitory nature of time. The photographs have been described as embracing the qualities important to the Impressionist movement, an exploration of the effects of light and color on the world-- but they also embrace those elements vital of the Baroque as the artist concentrates on the senses, emotion, movement, and split-second happenings. Like Baroque masters such as Caravaggio or Velázquez, Nour captures with pride brief moments of existence, immortalizing the ephemeral. The exposure time of these photographs is purposely long, making for blurred, ghostlike figures engaging in daily activity. The images are an existential reminder that time never stops, even in moments that would appear serene.


Story of a Life

Michel Lumière, - May 25, 2007

Nowadays outside the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) in Watertown, Massachusetts, you will be seeing a poster with a strange photograph and even a stranger title, “Movements in Adagio” until the end of June. The only clue about the poster is a statement at the bottom, talking about Naveed Nour and 25 years of photography. Initially we were reluctant, but curiosity got the better part of us, so we decided to give it a try and check out the exhibit >>> Photos

After making it to the 3rd floor and finding our way to the main contemporary art gallery, we were greeted by an unexpectedly large exhibit space filled with more than 100 photographs of all types and sizes. At first we were trying to figure out where to start, while also looking for Naveed Nour's work. Soon enough we realized what 25 years of photography means. The whole exhibit space belonged to him. In reality we could have started any where as it was divided in several sections, independent of each other.

One section belonged to his photographs of Iran during the Iran/Iraq war in the early 80's. To the right of the gallery was a collection of photographs from around the world, filled with moments so simple to walk by, yet captivating enough to engage you with every single one of them. This collection was called “Momento”. You could see others from afar trying to read some of the captions to learn more about the stories, which was only possible for some of the photographs, as apparently the artist, who prefers to be called by his first name Naveed, decided to exclude as much information as possible from all the photographs, so that the audience could make the experience their own. For those who were really curious, a gallery guide with numbers referring to each picture was available that told the story behind each photograph.

Naveed's work from Iran was very personal as he was telling his own life story in the pictures, as well as in some large size photo mosaics, or collages that were put together from dissected photographs of war and destruction in Iran. This collection Naveed calls “Memoirs of a Refugee”.

On a wall opposite of the Iran exhibit was a wall with more than 16 portraits. Some of the portrayed faces where looking straight at you while others were looking away. In front of the wall two armchairs were offering a lengthy stay for those who felt the need to connect with the characters in these images. Once you would sit down it would be hard to leave as you had already bonded with the faces. This section Naveed would call the wall of fame which under others included pictures of the Dalai Lama, San Francisco Artist Silvia Poloto and world renowned photo journalist Reza.

And the last exhibit area gave the name “Movements in Adagio” to the exhibit. According to Naveed, Movements in Adagio refers to life passing by at a slow rhythm. The images of this section were in stark contrast with the rest of the photographs as they were all in color, no smaller than 24x24 inches and to top it off, most of them didn't even resemble photographs. We had to ask about some of them to make sure they were not paintings.

At this stage of his artistic career Naveed had found color and his love for Impressionism combined with more than 25 years of photography created a new style that we have never seen before. One of his “paintings” had Degas written all over it while some were just a strong representation of form and color, nevertheless having you wonder about the context of it, and sure enough, just like his earlier black and white photographs, each painting was a telling a story of life.

We expected to visit a photo gallery, but we have to say that we got a lot more than what we bargained for, as this is a collection one would only see at a museum. We are glad that we gave it a chance >>> Photos


The Art of War - The wars may change names, but the imagery remains the same.

By Julie Balise, The Northeastern News - January 10, 2007

Beneath a frenzy of curly hair, a young girl gazes into the distance. She looks serene, calmly surveying the scene.

She stands no further than 10 miles from an Iranian war-zone.

The photograph capturing this moment is featured in "History Recalls And Nothing Has Changed," the latest art exhibit in the Curry Student Center Art Gallery. It opened Jan. 8 and will run through Jan. 27.

The exhibit originated as a collage of photographs of the Iran-Iraq war taken in 1984 and 1985 by Naveed Nour, an information technology consultant and service management leader at Northeastern who grew up in Iran. Nour, along with three other artists - Rania Matar, Nasser Palangi and Farideh Zariv - said the exhibit's aim is to combine different perspectives of war and its effects on the human condition.

Nour used photography to document the destruction from the war, and five years later he made a collage of his photographs, showing images of rubble, public demonstrations and the young girl who Nour referred to as his "Mona Lisa."

"She's my witness. In a way, it's almost like it's from her point of view," he said.

This first collage was finished in 1990 and earned the title "History Recalls," a name Nour borrowed from the lyrics of "Fool's Overture" by British rock band Supertramp. In 1995, Nour made a second collage called "Once Upon A Time," featuring images of a statue of a woman and a child, children mourning their parents and an empty playground. Both collages are on display at the exhibit.

Palangi, who taught Nour at Tehran University in Iran, collaborated with him on a painting called "The Explosion." The piece portrays women trapped in a symbolic jail. An explosion from the nearby war-zone illuminates their faces and the jail's chipped tile.

Palangi's drawings, many of which feature women, were done during the two years he spent in the war-zone in the late 1980s. He drew using various types of paper, ranging from ruling and packaging paper to tissue paper, dependent upon what he had access to at the time.

He said he hoped to use his art to reach a global demographic.

"I try to use visual language because of the worldwide expression, and because it doesn't need a translation," Palangi said. "Everybody can understand this language."

Zariv, Palangi's wife, contributed some of the more colorful works in "History Recalls." She used texture, shapes and contrast to display women affected by the destruction.

The newest work in the exhibit is by Matar. She was in Lebanon with her children July 12, 2006 when the country was attacked by Israel. She fled Lebanon to protect her children, but returned two months later with her camera. She described photographing the war-zone as "overwhelming."

"I have never seen so much destruction. There's so much around you," Matar said. "I ended up photographing what you find in the rubble: people's lost memories. You find homework, wedding photos scattered in the rubble. And it could be anybody's."

Nour said despite a 22-year gap between when he and Matar took their respective photographs, there are few differences in the images.

"Nothing has changed. If you look at some of my photos and put them next to [Matar's] pictures that she took a few months ago, society would not know which is which," Nour said.

Nour, his wife, Zohreh Firouzabadian, and Director of Operations at the Curry Student Center Robert Grier worked to bring the exhibit to campus. Grier said the exhibit was important because it showed a Northeastern staff member's talent and helped people understand the war from a different perspective.

"I think it's very good to show that side of war," Grier said. "We're at war right now, and Iran is on the frontline of people's thoughts."

Firouzabadian, who is in charge of marketing and promotion for the exhibit, met with Grier to explain its vision and arrange the logistics behind the gallery's visit.

"I want to create awareness and also to share the story amongst those who have and have not experienced war and oppression," she said. "It's to create a forum for communication."

Firouzabadian contributed to one piece of the exhibit. Located in the center of the gallery are a broken picture frame, a cracked CD and other wartime artifacts arranged to resemble a pile of rubble. Matar's vibrant photographs of rubble surround the pile.

Matar said she used the beauty of her art to leave a lasting impression on viewers.

"I think it's a very touchy question, how to make something beautiful out of someone else's misery," she said. "But when you make something beautiful, it makes people look at it and remember it."

Students at the exhibit said they were impressed by the images.

Martin Lenon, a sophomore business major, said the exhibit was important because it allowed students to see a society that they never knew existed.

"It's a totally different culture, something I've never seen before," Lenon said. "And it's all war-torn. You can definitely feel it."

The Directed Gaze: A Review Essay on “Illumination in Two Movements”

By Richard Y. Sitoski Queens University - Ontario Canada - March 31, 2006

From Atget and Nadar to Doisneau and beyond, Paris has proven to be an irresistibly photogenic subject. So much so that the living city—the city of businessmen and janitors, of schoolchildren, tourists, and yes, of lovers—is often buried under the weight of artifice and cliché. How to cut through centuries of idealization, while still bearing witness to the spirit of the place?

Alternately, when faced with images of countries affected by war, the problem is compounded. Our understanding of places and situations outside our experience will be at some remove from reality, fed as it is principally by press or archival photos. Significant events are isolated and provided new contexts by the media, often with unexpected results. How to convey something beyond our ken while letting the active moment speak for itself?

In his solutions, Nour is circumspect. Formally, his pictures evince careful compositional clarity, while in terms of content, he eschews epiphany for a careful study of relationships between his subjects. It is in these relationships, fixed and defined principally through gaze, that Paris is humanized and Iran's troubled past is brought into the present and made tangible.

The earlier images, taken when Iran and Iraq were at war, give us an insider's perspective into a hermetic society in the throes of conflict. This alone would be enough to make them of documentary interest, but Nour's deft structural touches—principally centred on gaze—make them truly compelling.

In “Veil and Sorrow,” for example, note the Cartier-Besson-like recession of the women's faces towards the upper right; they follow a diagonal established by the plane of the central figure's eyes and which is continued by the hands of the weeping woman at lower left. In addition, the solidity of the pyramidal structure formed by the subject's veil, and her grim expression, contrast with animated emotional atmosphere of the street. The main figure becomes a symbol of pathos, an emblem of widows or bereft mothers who transcends cultures.

Sometimes the images are troubling not for what they show, but for what they suggest. In “Ashoora—Celebrating Martyrdom,” mourners commemorate the death of Imam Hussain by striking themselves in the head with swords. Instead of a sensationalistic bloodied parade, the photo depicts unscathed young men who appear all the more unnerving for being in street clothes. The principal figure seems particularly gripped with fervor; those all-important eyes are not quite trained on us, but rather seem to see through everything before them. Nour's timing is superb; the main mourner and his neighbor have been caught at just the right moment: they are in contraposto in the midst of turning, in contrast to the standing observers serried behind, and to the man with his back to us. There is a complex interplay of diagonals—sword blades and arms, as well as sightlines—and even the unsettling touch of the hand at bottom right pulling on the young man's shirt. The result is an insightful examination of the power of religious enthusiasm.

The photos from Iran are generally more iconic, monumental and static than the Paris images; many of the latter, even when they are of café life, are given an added sense of motion by a blurred effect. But relationships and sightlines are as important, if not more so, in this series. Consider “Lunch with a Friend.” It is no coincidence that the molding reflected in the glass is at the protagonists' eye level, bridging the space between them.

It is considerations such as these which set the Paris pictures apart. Nour takes advantage of the charged spaces between—and especially around—people; in a city such as Paris, these spaces are bound up intimately with the physical environment. “Napoleon's Courtyard at the Louvre” is about a famous piece of architecture, but also about anonymous youths on in-line skates. The skaters exist in their own world, far from the building, looking at and communicating with each other. But they are also related to the building by the clever low viewpoint: their waists appear about eye level, which corresponds to grade, and their heads are at window height. The building thus neatly bisects and incorporates them. Youths and building are thus inseparable elements of the city.

The play of spatial recession is nowhere better explored than in the whimsical “Creative Friends.” The scene this time is from a slightly higher viewpoint, which provides Nour with single-point perspective—perfectly apt for the interior of a gothic church! The subjects are perpendicular to the picture plane, with the woman's camera dead center. The photographing of people taking pictures is a perennial activity; it offers fruitful grounds for commentary on the dual roles of observer and observed, though here I would relate the narrative to the ongoing concern for human interaction with the built environment (this time through collaborative efforts to conquer difficult lighting conditions).

In sum, one can always simply enjoy this exhibit for the insights it offers into Iran and Paris. At a deeper level, the viewer is also invited to chart the ground covered by the peripatetic photographer in his transition from photojournalist to mature artist, for to examine Nour's work is to find oneself sharing his life and times as he seeks to “eternalize the experience” of having lived in or visited so many places. It is work that repays careful observation. Formally strong, often challenging—and not without humour—these are photographs to last.


Naveed Nour Photography ©1985-2007