In Iran, being actively gay carries a potential death sentence. To survive, gay men and lesbians in Iran must either leave the country, conceal their sexuality or transition. Iranian photographer Laurence Rasti travelled to the Turkish town of Denizli to meet the gay refugees who are now seeking refuge. The projects title, There are no homosexuals in Iran, reflects remarks made by Iranian former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University in which he argued that in Iran, unlike America, there simply weren’t any gay people. Laurence manages to convey the intimate innocence of love while keeping her subjects’ identities hidden — by balloons, a patterned sheet, flowers, a shrub. “This context of uncertainty, where anonymity is the best protection, this series of photographs questions the fragile nature of identity and gender concepts. It tries to give back to these people a face that their country has temporarily stolen,” Laurence says of her work.
Laurence’s other projects include Miniatures Perses, a set of crumpled scarves shot on brightly coloured backgrounds, feminin masculin which looks at gender as a social construct, aroos, portraits of brides and passe-times which captures leisure pursuits from golf to hot air ballooning and a spa. Although diverse in subject matter, Laurence’s portfolio is bound together by her excellent eye for composition and subject, and the element of unreality which can be found in every image.