The photographs demonstrate excited fluids under the effect of sound waves with particular frequencies.

What the artist says

In 1908, seven years after signing of the D’Arcy concession, the exploration group eventually found oil in commercial quantity in Masjed-Suleiman, Southern Persia. ‘So began the industry, that was to see the Royal Navy through two world wars, and to cause Persia more trouble than all the political maneuverings of the great powers put together.’ (L.P. Elwell-Sutton, historian)

The project looks back at the financial records of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP) prior to the nationalization of oil industry in Iran, which led to the overthrow of democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in a CIA/MI6-backed coup d’état, coded Operation Ajax.

The growing anti-western sentiment stemmed from five decades of struggle with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the reluctant involvement in two world wars, followed by a plot to topple the undoubtedly most popular government in Iranian contemporary history, resulted in an outburst, which showed itself in form of 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The photographs demonstrate excited fluids under the effect of sound waves with particular frequencies. The figures used to generate the frequencies correspond to the company’s net profits, royalties to Iran and (if applicable) British taxes, in nine most critical years of the company’s forty-two yearlong activity in Iran prior to the nationalization.

Accompanying the photographs are excerpts from declassified documents and found images related to the events immediately before and after Operation Ajax.


About the artist

Pezhman Zahed (born 1988) is an Iranian-born UK-based photographer. He has studied BA Photography at the University of Brighton. Pezhman works with economic data and examines the possibility of transforming non-visual data into visual forms.

What we think

Confident in the potential of the image, BLOWBACK was presented as a single work on the wall within the degree show, it prompted me to go and look through the folio to find out more. The project is effective in its simplicity, giving visual form to the flux created as a result of the manipulation of power based on economic imbalance and capitalist ambitions.  The subject  in the work points to the global issues we all face and a collective concern  shared by many practitioners  whose work is engaged in politics today.  I am used to seeing citizen imagery of occupy, portraits of those in power, sites of power, but this is from a different direction but Zahed has placed this within his own visual language here, taking a situation back to the studio, to demonstrate and record through a kinetic still life of sorts the net profit data of an oil company  in crisis, the exact figures as suggested through the different wave frequencies documented.  Seen alongside the archive  records  on the company, it encapsulates a sense of the anxiety and instability we all feel and witness at this time.

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