Set against the cityscape of post-revolution Iran, Tehran 2006 focuses on the reality of everyday life and the ordinary in extraordinary times.
The project differs from the usual representations of Iran; the social documentary/journalistic approach - or the constructed images often on a 'big' subject, favoured by some photographers working in Iran - or 'abstract' photography with a poetic slant - or the tendency to 'exoticise' (in photography, or video). Rather, it echoes contemporary Iranian cinema, often using non- actors and focusing on an apparently 'small' subject, treated allegorically to allude to wider social issues.
All the characters 'play' themselves; the crowd is a mixture of people who are struggling and have been let down by the promises of revolution; a taxi driver, factory worker, builder, cleaner, dress- maker, servant, caretaker etc... This is to indicate that it will be these people who are already living on the edge, who will be hit most, if the economic sanction continues, or in the advent of military action. At another level, and in view of the current 'dispute': Iran as a threat, or a victim, to focus on ordinary life and everyday reality could suggest: a. Iranians are not necessarily a threat, and b. Iranians cannot easily be intimidated by the external threat and life goes on and people survive. These views are strongly shared by the majority in Iran today.
So conceptually the project concentrates on survival and uses the notion of 'waiting', in a sense akin to that of Beckett's Waiting for Godot, as a metaphor for the bleak situation facing Iranians today.
Details are significant as a subtle way of commenting on social issues. Some narratives signify the different ways in which people are 'stuck' in their daily activities; a taxi is broken down, a woman's chador is caught in the bush. Or the notion of 'stuckness' is conveyed more abstractly; a man is 'hindered' by the car, a woman by the tree. Others imply 'waiting'; a young man is sitting on his own on the edge of the field, a woman is picnicking alone, an old man seems to have just stopped, staring at the ground, two women are waiting at end of the road; both devices (being 'stuck' and 'waiting') are used as a metaphor to indicate the impossibility of progress, socially or politically in the current climate, and how people are waiting for something to happen; a change/a better life! If one interpretation of Waiting for Godot is waiting for death, it fits well with people's anticipation of the war at present and the encouragement of martyrdom portrayed in the form of a billboard in the background.
The panoramic photograph portrays a crowd which, viewed from a distance seems united (in the sense that it is a crowd occupying the same space) but on closer inspection, is disconnected; there is a sense of isolation, non-communication, with people heading in different directions; signifying a 'lost crowd' in this newly built landscape of post-revolution, indicating the temporariness of unity and the instability of national identity. (Mitra Tabrizian, copyright Mitra Tabrizian, courtesy of Rose Issa)