Iran – Roads to Isfahan

Inside the Islamic Republic of Iran, critique of the revolution is mounting and demands for a more liberal, secular attitude are challenging the government. This was the political backdrop to this first, in-depth photographic study of the country after the revolution, completed in the course of three journeys to Isfahan, starting at the borders to Turkey and to Turkmenistan and at the Strait of Hormuz.

In recent years Iran has taken some decisive steps towards ending its economic and political isolation. The Islamic Republic has become an important trading partner for many EU countries, while its collaboration in the nuclear sector with both China and Russia is an ongoing cause of concern for the USA, which has refused to lift its embargo and still sees Iran as a source of international terrorism. Earlier this year, the Iranian and Turksib railway systems were connected, thus providing access to the Persian Gulf for the Commonwealth of Independent States. Recent agreements relating to Caspian oil and gas and the advances made towards extending its political influence to Tajikistan (Farsi-speaking like Iran) and Afghanistan (whose civil war poses a threat to economic development in Iran’s northeast) have to be seen in the light of the country’s history.

The Persian Empire occupied the heart of a region that was vital to the establishment and success of the Eurasian network known as the Silk Road. It served as a bridge for cultural and commercial exchange between Rome and China and provided access to Central Asia during the Arab Conquest. Although a dead frontier during the Cold War, after the collapse of the Soviet Union the Islamic Republic was quick to renew its claim to be a crossroads between the advanced, high-tech nations of the West, the Arabic world, and the resources-rich states of Inner Asia and the Far East.

The reportage, a joint project with Thomas Kern and Samer Mohdad, was commissioned and published by DU, Zürich, and became part of Travelling through the Eye of History.

Group exhibition

Weltenblicke. Die Reportagefotografie und ihre Medien, Fotomusuem, Winterthur 1997