The earth was always kind and generous to villagers. Fertile lands, pastoral fields, green gardens, all were given to them. They lived a peaceful life. But in autumn 2017, a devastating 7.3-magnitude quake struck villages and towns in the West of Iran. Everything they held dear was taken from them overnight: their loved ones, their houses, their herds.
The first days were filled with dust, blood and tears. Then came sorrow and desperation. Naked walls reminded people of what they’ve lost and the bitter winds blowing through the tents exacerbated their pain. As nights began to draw in, the first glimmers of hope were heard in children’s laughter and broke the heavy silence. Wounds slowly healed and the broken trees grew new leaves. While the survivors began rebuilding their houses from ruins, gently faith was making its way to people's heart.
A few weeks after the earthquake I traveled to a village close to Iran-Iraq border that had the most casualties. "Kuik-e-Hasan" is a village in Kermanshah province which was completely disintegrated after the earthquake. The situation was difficult and chaotic but what I was willing to show was the path to recovery. I took few journeys in this village in the past year and during each trip, I got closer to what I wanted to see. Although all houses were not totally put together, life had come back to the village.
· Hiwa means hope in Kurdish language.
Home from elsewhere
I’m here. Far from home. A place which has a few in common with the city I live in, my hometown, Tehran.
I start my day with reading messages, short conversations with family and friends which is always comforting and then I go for reading news to have an idea of what’s going on in my country. Soon after I feel overwhelmed with all these constant influxes of worrisome news. Baffled and confused of all bittersweet feeling, I go out to explore the new city, walking through alleys, crossing bridges.
My feelings and thoughts engage in my countries. I can’t detach myself entirely from where I belong and unexpectedly what fills my mind comes out in front my eyes.
Now, even small insignificant thing bears a new meaning for me. Pieces of burned woods smell like north forest in fire, A loaf of bread reminds me of the news about another hunger strike and I am thinking about my grandmother when the old lady whom I met in my evening walk told me stories of her family. As if all I see here has an implication to a memory or happening in my country.
I’m here, looking back at home and document my imagination of what is happening there.
the hours after you are gone are so leaden
they will always start dragging too soon.
From Cascando by Samuel Beckett
The day of forty-four sunsets
I started this project when I broke up with my boyfriend. We were together for thirteen years and I almost forgot how life looked like without him. I couldn’t scape memories, the most precious belongings I had.
Separation changed everything.
Confusion and insecurity hit me and all of the sudden, time stopped. Life wasn't a familiar ground anymore
Then came fear.
I grabbed my camera and pointed it to myself to face my loneliness. Through the lens nothing seemed as before. Home was foreign. Nights were darker. It was a new world that I didn't recognize.
Little by little the matters which had interested me for years lost their shine and my camera was now grasping what had always been there and had never been seen. Signs and implications hidden in every corner and waiting to be read.
Waiting to be redefined.
Photography helped me record today’s moments and craft tomorrow's memories. I made a photobook out of this project. It is a very personal account of loss and void and fulfilling. An intimate journal made of pictures. A journal that I am now willing to share.
I remember my grandmother, vaguely, wearing her kerchief, going to *ziaratgah. “Take me with you” I was saying to her, holding her kerchief in my hands. Steps came one after the other, and a short while later, appearing in the sky, an azure dome. It was so rare for us to be alone. There was always other people, old and young, from all over. Ziaratgah was not only a temple for us. It seemed like somehow, the universe could hear us calling louder from there. It was a reason to stand, bear and hope.
* Ziaratgah is the shrine or tomb of prophets, Imams or their descendants.
In Iran over 60 percent of the population are under 30 years old. The youth has shaped a new face of the country, often oppressed by hardliners inside Iran and overlooked by the lovelorn of façades, those who reduce a sophisticated layered society to its captivating contrasts.
By transition from traditional lifestyle into modern, living alone has emerged as a phenomenon in the last decade. This life style was first appertained to men. Nowadays an increasing number of women live alone as well. Although in recent years the number of women who live alone has been rising, their way of life is still perceived as taboo and interpreted as an immoral deed. Politicians and clerics also consider it a threat to the fabric of family and implement certain policies to encourage youth to get married and form nuclear families. Despite these restrictions, 30 percent of the youth in Iran's big cities live independently, and some 30 percent of them are women.
As a woman who faces the same problems and societal obstacles, I was drawn to the new trend of women living alone in my country. The idea of this project came to my mind when I decided to live independently and began searching for a place of my own. I encountered irritating prejudices and obstacles including proving myself to landlords and dealing with prying neighbours. There is no room for any mistakes when you know just by being a woman you would be judged unfairly.
I started to find single women with the same situation. I met 15 women who received me warmly in their houses. We talked and exchanged experiences. They told me stories about their lives and their families. Divorcees were among them and one had lost her family. I met two young women who had come to the capital to pursue higher education. While most of them came from middle class families who supported their cause, some still had to struggle with their parents.
Despite different characteristics and backgrounds they had, a bond related them all. They had similar concerns, and above all, a common demand: to live as they please based on their choice and to never submit to norms dictated by the state, common law, common sense, moral law and tradition.
Many have turned a blind eye to these women. I portrayed them while no window blind concealed them and while they showed no shamefacedness.
“It was a set of large folded sheet of printed papers with news and pictures. It was light and had a special scent. It changed color with the passage of time.”
These may be my words when my grandchild asks me, many years from now, what a newspaper looked like when it still existed. Then I will continue by describing the people who used to read newspapers, and I will be able to enclose these pictures as evidence.
“Yesterday’s Paper” is a project about newspapers in the finals days before a complete migration from print to web. Modern life calls for higher speed in disseminating news and printed newspapers struggle to keep pace with it. There are many debates around this issue. Many believe this will be the end of the paper era while some think nothing can replace the tangible news sheets. My project is not intended to take any sides; rather to record what I see today as an impartial viewer.
This is a simple story about newspaper and everything related to its world: newspaper kiosks, the weights, readers, and the papers left on the streets; a world that might vanish sooner or later. Something which is familiar for us today might hold nostalgia in a future era.