Hoda Afshar

Speak the Wind


On the islands of the Strait of Hormuz off the southern coast of Iran, a distinctive local culture is to be found, the result of many centuries of cultural and economic exchange, the traces of which are seen not only in the material culture of these islands but also in the customs and beliefs of their inhabitants. Central to these is a belief in the existence of winds – generally thought of as harmful – that may possess a person, causing her to experience illness or disease, and a corresponding ritual practice involving incense, music and movement in which an hereditary cult leader speaks with the wind through the afflicted patient in one of many local or foreign tongues in order to negotiate its exit.

Wider beliefs about these winds permeate the culture but are seldom openly discussed – whether because of suspicion or because of belief in the power of language to manifest the invisible.

While their exact origins are unclear, the existence of such beliefs and practices in many African countries suggests that the cult may have been brought to the south of Iran from southeast Africa through the Arab slave trade – an account backed up by that of many locals, who hold that the winds themselves travel from Ethiopia. For locals and visitors alike, these beliefs resonate with the surreal landscape of the islands – a landscape of strange valleys and statuesque mountains that have been slowly carved by the wind over many millennia.

This project documents the history of these winds and the visible traces they have left on these islands and their inhabitants: a visible record of the invisible seen through the eye of the imagination.

Hoda Afshar (Tehran, Iran 1983), is now based in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. Through her practice, she explores the nature and possibilities of documentary image-making. Working across photography and moving-image, the artist considers the representation of gender, marginality, and displacement. In her artworks, Afshar employs processes that disrupt traditional image-making practices, play with the presentation of imagery, or merge aspects of conceptual, staged and documentary photography. In 2021, Hoda’s first monograph Speak the Wind was published by MACK in London. Recent exhibitions include; WE CHANGE THE WORLD, National Gallery of Victoria (2021), IN PROGRESS, Bristol Photo Festival, UK (2021), PHOTO International Festival of Photography in Melbourne (2021), Between the Sun and the Moon: Lahore Biennale (2020), Remain, UQ Museum of Art in Brisbane (2019), Beyond Place Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego CA, USA (2019), Primavera 2018, Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and Waqt al tagheer: Time of Change, ACE Open in Adelaide (2018). In 2015, she received the National Photographic Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, in 2018 won Bowness Photography Prize, Monash Gallery of Art, Australia, and in 2021 she won the people’s choice award of the Ramsay Art Prize, Art Gallery of South Australia. She is a member of ‘Eleven’, a collective of contemporary Muslim Australian artists, curators, and writers whose aim is to disrupt the current politics of representation and hegemonic discourses.

01/05 SUNDAY

H 10.30

Guided tour of the exhibitions in Chiostri di San Pietro for children from 6 to 12 years old

Free. By reservation: info@palazzomagnani.it


08/05 SUNDAY

H 16

Guided tour of exhibitions in Chiostri di San Pietro

Cost: € 3 guided tour + entrance ticket

By reservation: info@palazzomagnani.it


Chiostri di San Pietro
via Emilia San Pietro 44/c
Reggio Emilia



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Chiostri di San Pietro