In 2005, when President Ahmadinejad was elected, I started a project on the Iranian society. I felt that with the arrival of this populist and extremist president, the divide between how the West viewed Iran and the country I knew was growing at a very fast pace.
I thus set out to portray a society that is more vast, human and intricate than the stereotypes weighing it down since the Islamic Revolution. I started to investigate the Iranian psyche and national identity through the prism of single individuals. I am particularly drawn by the theatricality and the complexity of the Iranian society— the profound religiousness of the Iranians in spite of the regime’s cynical use of religion; the constant clash between modernity and tradition, often within the same person; the obsessive research of personal success in a system dominated by collective values, in which sufferance is upheld as a value. I want to show that the Iranians can be surprising, droll, audacious, insolent and unsatisfied. As a consequence they are not a homogeneous block, as the regime would like us to believe.
I have worked against the backdrop of important political events: the emerging of Iran as a nuclear and regional power; the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution; the fraudulent reelection of Ahmadinejad; the birth of the Green Movement and its violent repression.
It is at this precise moment, when Iran finds itself geographically and strategically in the middle of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the cause of much tension between the US, China and Russia, that a closer, more intimate look to its people becomes important.