PA: The photos in Pictures of You are printed on translucent silk. You’ve written that the silk is intended to allow viewers to see each other as well as the photographs, and to remind them that “something beautiful is in jeopardy.” How have viewers reacted to Pictures of You?
TL: There have been a wide variety of reactions. In fact, the one commonality seems to be that no one is indifferent. Everyone seems to have a powerful response to the show.
So far, the overwhelming majority of responses have been positive. Viewers thank us for putting a human face on Iran, and many of them have powerful emotional responses. It’s quite amazing for me as an artist to see people emerging from the installation in tears, or emptying their pockets into our donation boxes because they want to see the show travel to other venues.
We have had a variety of negative responses as well. At our installation in Denver, we were picketed by a Christian group that wanted to express the view that Muslims were going to hell. Interestingly, they all agreed that the subjects of my photographs looked like very nice people. At the same installation, we had a visitor tell us that he wanted to go and get dynamite and destroy the artwork. One of our staff members engaged him in conversation about the show, and within ten minutes he had changed his mind completely.
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