Friday, October 4, 2013

The Mainstreaming of Iran: From Ancient Persian Ruins to Iranian Living Rooms

A photograph from “Iranian Living Room”: Mohammad at home with his dog Loosy
(Photo Credit: Nazanin Tabatabaei Yazdi)

The perception of Iran, as presented in the Western media, is beginning to change. What was once only flaming flags, wild-eyed mullahs and spinning centrifuges is being, slowly, replaced by images of beautiful landscapes and, more importantly, human beings (instead of caricatures). Finally, we are beginning to see who is really on the receiving end of our disastrous and dangerous policies.

A recent post on the popular website BuzzFeed featured a photo-essay of the “25 Amazing Sites Americans Are Missing Out On In Iran.” Among the dazzling images are the ruins of Achaemenid palace at Persepolis, Amir Chakhmaq Complex, Zein-o-Din Caravansarai, the tombs of Hafez and Ferdowsi, and, of course, Esfahan’s incredible Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Introducing Western audiences to this side of Iran – the side they never see on the news – is a huge step toward altering common conceptions and destroying false and offensive narratives.

Another case in point: a new limited edition, photo-documentary book published by Fabrica, a Benetton-affiliated, Italian communications research center, studio and school, entitled, “Iranian Living Room.”

Bringing together the extraordinary work of 15 young Iranian photographers, we are shown the intimate and rarely-seen world behind the windows of everyday Iranian home life and brought into what the book’s editors describe as “a unique space beyond global media and local state. This is where life is lived in private in Iran; it is often where life takes place, in fact.”

They add:
In this living room both literal and metaphorical, we are privileged to discover multiple interpretations of Iranian reality: cultural differences and similarities, solitude and conviviality, relaxation and excitement, dressing up for an interior life versus dressing up for the street, the rhythms of religious ceremony and the patterns of everyday life.
Where much life on the street is presented by the world’s media as foreign and inhibited, behind these closed doors the lens captures a life that is immediately recognisable in all its untrammelled richness. It takes on a central role as a kind of counterpoint to the contested street, functioning as a new public sphere. It is both far away and close to home. These vignettes are framed by young photographers who, through their own storytelling, might help change the stories we tell about Iran.
The project, as a post in Slate notes, “portrays a range of cultural, economic and religious backgrounds” and “features portraits of Iranians of all ages, from large families to young singles.”

Fabrica has released this video promoting the book (which is, sadly for those interested, already sold out).

Below are more photographs from “Iranian Living Room.”

(Photo Credit: Majid Farahani)

Teenage boys playing video games and smoking hookah pipes at home in Tehran.
(Photo Credit: Ali Tajik)

Yasmin paints in her bedroom while roommate Negar sits in the kitchen.
(Photo Credit: Mahshid Mahboubifa)


Originally posted at Muftah.


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