Iranians Vacationing in Iran: Newsha Tavakolian

Iranians can't travel enough through their country, and Newsha shows us why.

Newsha Tavakolian and Anahita Ghabaian recently curated Iran, Année 38  for Les Rencontres d’Arles, showing until the 27th of August, highlighting the 38 years post-Islamic Revolution. The exhibit has made ripples throughout the photo world and to add to the buzz, The New Yorker has published a series of Newsha’s photographs that show us what traveling around Iran is like these days. She accompanies her work with insightful words on how quickly Iran has changed in her short lifetime.

In the photo that was taken in the Valley of Stars, one gets the sense that the travelers who are photographed recently woke from a deep sleep and have found themselves on another planet. Newsha mentions in her text that it took three decades for Iranians to venture out, and her photos deliver the message that Iran is very much awake and looking for new experiences.

“In the nineteen-eighties, when I was a child, my family rarely took vacations. There had been a revolution in Iran, and there was a war on. Most of our trips were to the gardens of family and friends; a couple of times we went to Shomal, as the green band of forests south of the Caspian Sea is known. In those days, travelling was all about us pleasing the group.

We once rented a house by the sea. Everybody had tasks. The women cooked. I was told to keep the frogs and cats away from my paranoid aunt. In the afternoon, when my uncle went jogging, I had to run behind him, carrying a boom box playing “Eye of the Tiger.” He had just returned from the front, and he loved “Rocky.”

That was a rare memory. At home and on trips, we often spent our time hiding from others. We gathered behind walls and inside houses to avoid the sternness of the Islamic Revolution. Public space was no fun: there was always someone disturbing your privacy, making you feel uncomfortable.

Now I look at the youth of today, who are hitchhiking their way through the country, discovering its islands, mountain passes, and changing-color deserts. It took more than three decades for Iranians to venture out once again; now they can’t seem to get enough of it.” Newsha Tavakolian

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