You don’t die
When protests broke out with Iranian women and men rebelling after the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022, very few pictures were available for the press to report on events in Iran. News agencies were inundated with photos produced by the regime, and were indirectly but clearly ordered not to send journalists to cover the protests.
No visas were granted to the press. But the uprising was under way, and was being covered, day by day, hour by hour, via Twitter and Instagram. Social media featured direct eye witness reports, with still photos and videos taken by Iranians, providing a true story in parallel to the version recounted by the regime.
We therefore decided to establish our own body of work and to authenticate it. A small team was set up with our journalists and two Iranian experts, Farzad Seifikaran and Payam Elhami. Work was done recording references for the pictures, and with their knowledge of the sites and the language, we were able to authenticate the photos and videos, following the full extent of the historic uprising, and presenting it to our readers. The visuals sent out on social media gave us information on factual events that we studied closely, having everything checked and confirmed by the journalists.
Never has the world featured in so many photographs, never have there been so many photojournalists, but news reporting through pictures has proven to be vulnerable, and also of critical importance, yet here it was well beyond the reach of professional photojournalists, more so than ever before.
With this chain of journalism built on trust, readers at the end of the chain can be sure that what they are being shown is truthful.
Nicolas Jimenez, Director of Photography Le Monde & Marie Sumalla, Photo Editor
Curators: Marie Sumalla, Photo Editor, and Ghazal Golshiri, Journalist, Le Monde
Acknowledgments We wish to express our gratitude to the Iranian photographers and journalists, and in particular Elaheh Mohammadi and Niloufar Hamedi who, with their camera and pen, have recorded for eternity the death and burial of Mahsa Amini. Since September 2022, they have been held in custody and are facing severe prison sentences for doing their work as journalists. Our thanks to Farzad Seifikaran, Nicolas Jimenez, Jean-Philippe Rémy, Madjid Zerrouky, and our friends in Iran without whom this exhibition would never have been possible.