Matthieu Litt - Photography
Through The Walls
It wouldn’t be true to say that Matthieu Litt went to Iran without any preconception about the place or
its people. That anyone could visit that county and not have some idea of what they expected to find there hardly seems likely. But Litt’s work is most often about the complexities of place and how we encounter it, so his view of Iran takes these expectations into account, if only to find some kind of unexpected space within them. At the same time, Litt’s pictures of Iran are not made to any particular agenda, he is not a documentarian in that respect, but he continually negotiates his - and our - expectations about the place, which has been so much represented and dissected.
Indeed, there could be no way of giving a definitive view of such a diverse country. So instead Litt fills these pictures with small, poetic moments of grace, trying the read the text of a culture not his own, one that still remains open and humanly available, despite the differences that separate him from it. This is largely because he doesn’t pretend to understand much of what he encounters, realising the futility of this in light of the frameworks available to him. He wisely chooses to leave the mystery of these encounters intact, conscious of his role as an outsider, never presuming to interpret this place and its layered history or imposing himself on such delicately poised scenes.
We could, of course, over-emphasise the mysteriousness here. What appeared strange to Litt and to us now is simply an everyday matter in the places he has photographed; it is perhaps only the intensification of the photographic frame that renders their meaning opaque. More significant is how Litt at once acknowledges the kind of expectations we might have about Iran and, without actually undermining them, subtly realigns our view, so that these individual moments take on a new significance. We can then read this back in to what we know - or think we know - about the place itself. Litt’s Iran is the sum of these half-glimpsed possibilities