Architect and designer India Mahdavi brings us on a poetic journey through her birth city Tehran. Through the photographs from her Portraits de Villes book, she tells us all about ‘Iranian’ moments, on the borderline between what is fading away and what is being reborn.
Poetry is an integral part of the Iranian culture. Tehran is a rather complex city. It leaves so many contradictory impressions... But poetry is always there, it is part of the city, softness is part of the culture.
What I wanted to show through these images are moments that are, to me, truly ‘Iranian’ moments.
The Tehran that touched me, the one I photographed, is Tehran from the 60s to the 70s.
My grandmother had a house on the southern side of the city, and it has not been lived in for 40 years. It is practically a ruin. That is typical of families here.
What I seek to do is to tell the story of this poetry of abandonment, which I find very innovative, precisely because it gives the impression of a past glamor that no longer exists.
Often in a living area, people sit like this: women on one side, men on the other; and there is no table in the middle. This is a common way for Iranian living rooms to be arranged.
Why is it interesting? Because these shoes, for example, speak volumes: a certain social setting
And I like the idea of a portrait myself. Because when I take photos of houses, I often say that I am doing portraits of people.
My photographs became my personal memory
In reality, I try to understand who the people are, and the portrait belongs to the portraitist as much as it does to the subject of the portrait.
To me, it was important to tell another story about Iran, to reveal this soft spot, this poetry, and the rough side, and so on: it is my vision of Tehran.