Iran News ...


3/6/07

A Love Letter from Iran

By Kamin Mohammadi

 

Review of the new book of photographs of Iran: "Iran: A View from Here" by Kamran Ashtary and Tori Egherman

Available online at www.ashtarydesign.com

 


Arak. The first Norooz after the death of Kamran's mother.

When Kamran Ashtary returned to Iran three years ago, his only intent was to see his sick mother. After 22 years away, this first visit was intriguing enough that he went back a few months later accompanied by his American wife, Tori, intending to stay three months. The months soon turned into years and the charm and challenges of living in this most complex of countries has inspired this book of photographs, Iran: A View from Here. The book covers new territory - it presents the ordinary, diverse face of Iran, one that visitors rarely see and which escapes professional photographers who are busy snapping mountains, deserts and funky Tehrani girls walking past traditional chador-clad women. Deserts and mountains feature in this book too, but also, there are snapshots of daily life, of rituals of life and death, of the clashing contradictions that form the rich and confusing contours of Iran, of the capriciousness of the land and its people and the unpredictability met at every turn.


Arak. Peace

With Iran so much in the news, it is easy to forget that behind the political intrigues there lies a vast country in which people do their best to live normal lives. In depicting some of the many faces of Iran, Tori and Kamran relate some of their feelings and experiences in Iran, not attempting to gloss over the difficulties and the mixed feelings it evokes. The positives are celebrated - Tori, as an American in Iran, has been met only with welcome and kindness: 'What never ceases to amaze me is how welcoming Iranians are to me, especially once they discover that I am an American,' she says - and the negatives are just as openly discussed: 'There are so many contrasts in this lovely country of ours. Iran will always be a place that I love and that I hate,' says Kamran.

 


Minab. These red-masked women sell fresh herbs at the market. The masks
are ornamentation. We saw women lift them up and display their faces.



In describing Iran one is in danger of wearing out that age-old cliché - this is a land of contrasts and Tori and Kamran's book does not attempt to explain away the complexity or many contradictions or try to make sense of them. But within the atmospheric range of images and bittersweet essays printed here, they beautifully capture and communicate the immense charm of Iran, its ability to enslave the heart, and the tenacity of its hold over the affections in spite of the frustrations of living there. Most of all, this book is a visual love letter to a country that can befuddle the mind and nourish the soul all at the same time.

 


Kavir-e Lut. Our travelling companion does a cartwheel in the dunes.

 


The book is available online at www.ashtarydesign.com


About the author:
Kamin Mohammadi (www.kamin.co.uk) is a writer, journalist and broadcaster specializing in Iran. She is currently working on a book about Iran to be published by Bloomsbury in the spring of 2008. As an Iranian who has grown up largely in the UK but spends part of every year in Iran, she is uniquely placed to commentate on life in the Islamic Republic.

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