Impossible Desire: Photo London 2023

Ali Tahayori

11 - 14 May 2023

Impossible Desire is a series of hand-painted photographs captured from inside a public toilet (a gay beat) in Thayori’s Iranian hometown, Shiraz, where he had his first intimate experience.

Tahayori says of the series “Given it is not safe for me to visit my country for being openly gay, I asked a friend who still lives in Iran to visit the site and take some images for me. Looking at his photographs, I realized images did not correlate with my memories of the site”

Initially, the project was meant to revisit and reconstruct a past queer memory of Tahayori’s. Later, it became about the experience of a place and a time that is no longer accessible. “I used body fluid and paint to express my feelings of loss and longing for a past that was disrupted, and a future that never followed. Using my body fluid mixed with paint queers the image, reimagining a future where homosexuality is no longer prohibited.”

By revisiting the past and leaving traces of his queer diasporic presence, the Impossible Desire series aims to turn the materiality of the artist’s own body to the tactile and the affective – to conjure into the present that which is lost within the two-dimensionality of photographs, and to imagine a future that is free from horror, persecution, and disruption.


Curated for Photo London 2023 by Roya Khadjavi Projects, New York