Damon is from Iran. He is an asylum seeker to Australia. He is currently “in the system” to be processed for a permanent resident visa. The current immigration laws in Australia have severely narrowed the opportunities for resettlement. Therefore, his status is uncertain, this causes anxiety and a sense of insecurity. Plans cannot be made for the future, as it is unclear if he can remain in this country.
Damon left his home two years ago, in a bid to escape the repressive Islamist state that is modern day Iran. Nearly all forms of self-determination and freedom of expression are restricted. All visual artists face severe censorship. Many have been imprisoned for the content of their work.
In Iran, Damon worked for a large advertising firm as a staff photographer. He has developed a lifetime of skills, both in the commercial market and in his own personal work as a photographer.
Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the legal system has been under Islamic Shari ‘a law. All sexual relations that occur outside a traditional, heterosexual marriage are illegal. No legal distinction is made between consensual or non-consensual sexual contact. LGBT relations that occur between consenting adults in private are a crime and carry a maximum punishment of death. Transgender people are routinely gender reassigned with Government financial support and then ‘reinstated’ back into a ‘hetereonormative environment.
In this context the images created with Damon take on a special significance, a symbolic significance. The concept of masking and veiling authentic identity and sexuality is a daily practice in Iran. The images capture this sense of forbidden almost fetishistic desire, a deeply transgressive stance. As much as they are about repression, they also contain a sense of powerful protest and exaltation that these images could even be represented.