Photo by Heja Rahiminia

Cleaned Books

Cleaned Books by Heja Rahiminia is the result of research on censorship in art books in Iran. During the years that Rahiminia studied photography at the University of Arts in Iran, many foreign books were bought by the university every year, but there was no news of them for many months after they were purchased.

During this time, the books were sent to a unit called Book Control and people, whose identities were always unknown to the students, carefully examined all the pictures in the books. They censored nudes or semi-nudes wherever they thought the images broke social norms or might sexually incite students or be against the Islamic Sharia.

Depending on the person who censored those books, the severity of the censorship varied, sometimes the whole naked figure was covered including faces. For others censoring kisses and physical contact between men and women was the important factor.

Sometimes a few images survived the censorship because the images were so abstract that the censor did not notice the “obscenity”.

Redacting the images was done with different techniques of drawing, painting, scratching, pasting labels and even tearing. The result was to make the censored images looked like a works of art as the censor, with an innocent delicacy and aesthetic and with the intention of destroying the image, created something new.