Foad Alijani

Essay and Photos: “Tehran: A Shapeshifter”
SuperMarket artist-run art magazine, no. 11 (October 2021): ISSN 2000-8155.

City as the embodiment of a human society forms its body on the basis of different elements and eventually its dynamic is based on those very same elements. With the passing of time, changes in human lifestyles and the turning of cities to megacities, the societal aspect of cities has gained even more importance. Characteristically, alterations in the physical body of cities have made the ground for formation of many concepts and circumstances. 

Tehran changes. Almost one century has passed after a phenomenon that is called “Modernisation” in Iran. After which Tehran, as the last capital city of the Iran dynasties, became the place to represent the exterior of this movement. The Metamorphosis of Tehran, especially in the past few centuries, has been overshadowed by the phenomenon of massive changes through elimination. Eradication of names, memories and many other things which are ironically easily accessible through references. Tehran is used to constant transformation. Processes of elimination change from being decades long to time spans of just months. This body has been duplicated in many ways, has been defaced many times over and over, and has eventually not forgotten but has deleted its own life experience. 

North, where that mountain is located, windows wish to open to that mountain. Its body has been intertwined with Tehran’s glands. From the time when the mountain lost its connection to the water springs, the mountain’s sweat flowed to the sewage. Its direction has changed. They want to climb this mountain which hosts snow spots just for a few months. 

Tehran forgets. A café turns into a theater. A palace turns into a courthouse. Numerous buildings and avenues change in order to eradicate a part of history. Now it has all changed. Nobody remembers anymore. Even names are changing. It has dragged its body to the skirts of the neighboring states in order for its cells to keep reproducing.

Tehran does not stop. Cells undergo too much pain; one can always hear whining throughout the city. Even the ones who go up the mountains see the whining in the form of fumes. 

Tehran devours. Crows have migrated from many of its parts. Malnourished foxes are scattered across the city. Also there are cats, at the same time in comfort and in struggle with co-existence. The sound of birds has faded. Tehran hardly breathes; gardens have turned into a few trees that are left and last big parks have been transfixed in the same place for years.

Tehran is an underground city. Many stories are hidden in its nooks and crannies and only first-hand narrations can be taken from them. At this point in time, photos narrate things which are both existent and non-existent. A lot of things are hidden. There is a paradox that things get eliminated and at the same time they long to remain. The body of Tehran in order to grow competes with its own cells. Cells eat up one another in order to survive. Some cells only survive by feeding on under-skin cells. Other cells either change places or transform into one another. There used to be springs in Tehran that are now reduced to small wells which sometimes reach fresh water that for a few seconds flows into the wells and again goes back to earth.

Tehran always changes. 

Tehran, May 2021

2010-2024 © Foad Alijani