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Sacred Defence

Sacred Defence is the commemorative title given to Iranian soldiers who have died during armed conflict. This exhibition, Sacred Defence, explores what those soldiers may have looked like, or who they may have been, had they been on the front lines during the Iraq-Iran War (22 September 1980 – 20 August 1988). The Iranian government glorifies the deaths of Sacred Defence soldiers through the Islamic lens of sacred martyrdom. Like many families from all across the globe, some are left wondering: why did their sons, fathers, or brothers have to die? All soldiers who have experienced war have bore witness to important historical moments. Like documenting oral histories for posterity, this series acts as a visual affirmation of Iranian history. These portraits depict models as stand-in representations for possible soldiers, from Matlabi's diasporic perspective living in Canada. They are calm, faithful, fragile, and composed.

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