44 Days

David Burnett 22 Nov 2019 - 9 Jan 2020

When your job is to be a historian with a camera, you almost never know what the direction the story will go or how it will unfold. Only later, years later, sometimes decades, do things begin to become clear, as the ever present pressures of human endeavor can often cloud that which you are seeing. I have always tried to see things simply as they are, and hope that my photographs capture a sense of the lives of the people in my pictures. In almost every case, when photographing events in distant parts of the world, you won’t know the names of anyone, or exactly what their personal story is. But for that one fraction of a second, they are captured by your camera, and preserved in a way we can share with each other.

I was an outsider in 1979, arriving just before New Year’s Day, never having been in Iran before.  Yet from news accounts I’d heard and read, there were changes going on in the country, in society, and as a historian, I wanted to witness, and tell that story. In the 7 weeks I remained in Tehran, many things happened. Demonstrations in the street by literally millions of people, the eventual departure of Shah, and return of Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in France, which was followed by the introduction of the Bazargan government. So much happened in those days that it would be hard to put in all into one photograph. But seen as a group, I hope my pictures, seen so often by people outside Iran, might finally be able to be seen in the gallery in Tehran. I have waited forty years to share these pictures which I took over a period of 44 days.

I hope the wait has been worthwhile, and am pleased to finally have a chance to share the images with some of the people in them. In 1979, I was an anonymous photographer, taking pictures mainly of people who were anonymous to me, and perhaps now, we can close that gap, and share the history itself, as it unfolded.

 

 

David Burnett

2019