Abbas Attar, better known by his mononym “Abbas”, dedicated his photographic work to the political and social coverage of the developing southern nations. Since 1970, his major works have been published in world magazines and includes wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Ulster, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, and South Africa with an essay on apartheid. From 1978 to 1980, he photographed the revolution in Iran, and returned in 1997 after a 17 years voluntary exile. His book Iran Diary 1971-2002 (Autrement 2002) is a critical interpretation of its history, photographed and written as a personal diary.
From 1983 to 1986, he travelled in Mexico, photographing the country as if he were writing a novel. An exhibition and a book, Return to Mexico, Journey beyond the Mask (W. W. Norton 1992), which includes his travel diaries, helped him define his aesthetics in photography.
About his photography Abbas writes:
“My photography is a reflection, which comes to life in action and leads to meditation. Spontaneity – the suspended moment – intervenes during action, in the viewfinder. A reflection on the subject precedes it. A meditation on finality follows it, and it is here, during this exalting and fragile moment, that the real photographic writing develops, sequencing the images. For this reason a writer’s spirit is necessary to this enterprise. Isn’t photography ‘writing with light’? But with the difference that while the writer possesses his word, the photographer is himself possessed by his photo, by the limit of the real which he must transcend so as not to become its prisoner.”