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.