ZAHRA SALEKI PHOTOGRAPHY
It all started in one great night in Cameron's house, one of my favorite bars, when I had a couple of drinks and went to the restroom to freshen up. While waiting in line, one small drawing with a cute statement grabbed my attention: “We are all pretty girls.” When it was my turn and I went inside the stall, I realized I was surrounded by many more drawings and writings, and I almost felt like I could hear all of these girls’ voices. My feeling of that moment was like the feeling of the person who sees the Red color for the first time. Imagine if for your whole life you live in a room full of colors and you never see them until one night when you are a bit tipsy and you feel Oh My God, what are these colors? Believe it or not, at that moment I felt I found Magic in the washroom. I felt I discovered the land that it was always and already there and I never see it before. The invisible underground feminine culture, that it meant to be destroyed.
“Girl Talk” is a documentary-based photo project, which has been collected from mostly girls’ public washrooms and some unisex washrooms in over 500 bars in Toronto, New York, and Montreal. This project highlights a small part of the subterranean urban culture, which is normally not intended to be permanent or publicly viewed. These girls write or draw how they really feel, revealing an honest footprint of themselves. No one really knows who drew them, and the artifacts could be erased anytime! This project started two years ago and I never felt so in love with any project before. I feel very strong about Girl Talk because I feel this crazy wild imagination needs to be seen by everyone. Sometimes when I am editing these photos and put them together I try to imagine the face of these people, I never can but the only thing that I always can feel is their true and raw feeling.
Through my photographs I isolate each drawing and graffiti from its original environment, making each one its own individual art piece. Through these photographs, I capture the essence of the soul and the unmasked version of these people. For me, these graffiti and statements speak of the desire of people who need to be heard and remembered in their true way. I think it’s important to preserve these graffitis, to assemble and see them as a collection, because it’s part of our society, and we can have a deeper look into them. Even if a lot of these statements are sarcastic and sometimes appear as satire, we have to wonder why these girls are not as expressive in society when other people are watching.
I also find these drawing very inspiring. I feel many of us are wild, crazy artists inside, but scared to show others because we worry it is too silly or too childish. The truth is, many of these drawings reveal the wild soul we have otherwise learned to tame in a very conservative way. What if we learned to not be so self-conscious? What kind of society would we live in then?
In my installation, I print these graffiti in a very large format with special transparent paper and I will make a cool lightbox tunnel so people can walk through it.
I promise if you come you will also agree that you can find treasure in the washroom.
My dream is one day I can make this a book! So when the day comes help me my dream comes true.