Born in 1945, Jalali developed a passion for taking pictures during his youth. While he originally studied economics and political science at Melli University in Tehran, he soon dedicated his life to photography and joined the Royal Photographic Society in Great Britain in 1974. Jalali helped popularize Iranian photography within the general public and the international community. He gained notoriety for documenting the the tumultuous events of the seventies and eighties, producing iconic images of a country in the midst of transformation and defending itself from an imposed war with Iraq from 1980-88. His coverage of the Iran-Iraq War entitled Khorramshahr: The City That Was Destroyed (1981), seemed to have no end. Jalali traveled to the border town almost forty times from 1980 to 1988, recording the horrors of war through his lens. Khorramshahr, which Iranians nicknamed Khooninshahr (the City of Blood), was the site of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran on September 22nd 1980. Jalali first visited the city in 1981, while it was still occupied by the Iraqi Army and visited more frequently following its liberation by Iranian forces in 1982. The struggle for Khorramshahr was central to the war-time psyche and memory of the 8-year long conflict. While the traditional historical narrative portrayed the city as a place of gallant resistance on the front-lines, the photographs illuminate its vulnerability and the catastrophic suffering of its people. As a chronicler of visual history, Jalali made sure that evidence of the war’s destruction would not be forgotten or ignored.
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