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Iran, 40 years on: A revolution through books

February 11 marks the anniversary of the overthrow of the Shah in Iran in 1979, the end of a dynasty that had lasted some 2,500 years. The final months of his rule and the early years of the Islamic Republic of Iran were a moment of uncertainty and violence but also one during which writing and photography saw a unique level of freedom. FRANCE 24 speaks to Iranian artist and author Hannah Darabi, who has spent years collecting books that were published during that period.


"White covers" were political books that showed the rich diversity of ideas in Iran before the revolution. "There was a diversity of ideas – communist, Marxist, Islamist thinking – that was interesting," Darabi tells us. "These books were banned, they were hidden in the mountains and with the revolution they came out, suddenly sold on the streets of Tehran."

Darabi's own book, "Enghelab Street: A Revolution Through Books", looks that those "white covers" and at the books that followed, which were more focused on photographs. "Documentary photography became a very important visual language after the revolution," she explains.

All photographs © LE BAL / Hannah Darabi.

Hannah Darabi's collection of books from Iran was recently shown at Paris's LE BAL exhibition space.

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