Vitruvius, the Roman architect, is believed by some to have coined the word ‘street,’ and in his descriptions, divided urban sites into three categories: the Tragic, the Comic and the Satiric. In Tehran’s ongoing scenes of turmoil, street photography is more often seen as tragic rather than satiric.
My relationship with the city is a complex process of continual reengagement; merely moving through the streets, with their ever-changing sights, scenes and characters, blends and overlaps the tragic and the comic, each ceaselessly fading away and being refreshed from moment to moment. I find shelter within the walls of my house, taking refuge from the sad turmoil found in the streets of Tehran. My imagination lies trapped, bound among the books covering my apartment walls.
Thus, taking an awkward, sometimes painful stance against my own escapism, against my comfort and my walls of books, I step into the city. I make my personal moment public. I read. I let my imagination free, to flow into and mingle with the city. I sit with a camera and, for a moment, I freeze myself in my imagination; perhaps imagination could make us stop for a moment, reach out and even begin to see our relations toward each other. The streets—for this moment, at least—offer the dim possibility of a space for contemplation and communication, one which allows us to touch—maybe even add to—the spirit of the city.
Maryam Firuzi is a multimedia artist in Tehran. Her last solo exhibition, Reading for Tehran Streets, is a combination of storytelling, poetry and staged photography with social and cultural allusions. She won the award for best short film at the Mediterranean Film Festival at Cannes.