Ashkan Sahihi was born in Teheran in 1963 and grew up in Germany. He moved to New York in the spring of 1987. For him, like for others of his generation, the city offered more than just refuge and protection; it was the pure embodiment of progress and opportunity.
The diverse and international community that Sahihi became a part of was soon shattered by HIV/AIDS. In just a few years, numerous friends and colleagues in the art and night scenes succumbed to the effects of the virus.
When Sahihi moved to Berlin in 2013, he encountered young, gay men that struck him as oddly familiar. They reminded him of New York in the 1980s, and of the search for new forms of identity. It seemed as if Berlin of the 2010s had replaced the old New York as the city of dreams.
But even in Berlin, so cosmopolitan and liberal, political powers are growing in influence that exert pressure on people whose lives do not fit into a narrow ideological framework. With equal rights and social equality not yet achieved, it looks as though already won freedoms will have to be defended.
Sahihi’s latest series, Beautiful Berlin Boys, is thus not only an homage to friends from earlier days; it also takes a stand for life in openness and liberty, for belonging and tolerance – individual and unconditional.
Ashkan Sahihi has lived and worked in Berlin since 2013. He has photographed for notable publications such as Zeitmagazin, the New Yorker, and Vogue. In the last years he has turned his focus to conceptual series, with exhibitions at MoMA/PS1/New York, Macro/Rome, the Akademie der Künste/Berlin, and the Andrea Rosen Gallery/New York. His most recent work, Die Berlinerin (published in 2015), is a photographic-sociological study of women in Berlin.