Loneliness and the quality of being in a state of nothingness is central to human experience. While people encounter loneliness at varying degrees and lengths, it is inherent to the process of life and death. Though one is thrown into existence, as philosophers put it, the ‘thrownness’ happens in an extreme state of loneliness. As the being grows up and functions as an adult, loneliness follows like a shadow, though rays of sunlight may warm a part of the person. This warmth is however transient and does not last for a long time.
Abandonment, estrangement, insecurity during childhood, adolescence and adulthood; disease, melancholy and death during old age seem to be central to human experience world wide. This is especially true in countries that are ravaged by wars, internal conflict and external aggression. Iran is no exception and the people of this ancient country have seen it all, for thousands of years, before Indian or Greek civilizations took birth. Many have said and noted that Persia is a land where melancholy and sadness are celebrated, and rejoiced. Poets and writers from Persia have taken inspiration from the loneliness of existence, the pain of breathing and comfort that death provides, like a soothing balm.
After the revolution, Persian artists have continued to produce internationally acclaimed works of traditional art, digital art, film and music. Zahra Darvishian is a Tehran based poetess, photographer and painter who explores the themes of disturbed mind, loneliness, women in Iran, unfulfilled dreams, a cry for freedom, urban loneliness, and Id’s conflicts. Zahra found solace in traditional Iranian music when she was 15 and continued to pursue her degree in translation of English from foreign languages and French literature. She majored in Existentialism at the Iranian Language Institute.
After not finding what she needed in a world of words, she experimented with Graphics and did an M.A. in Photography from the University of Arts. Her thesis explored photo semiology in under 5-year-old children’s fantasy before intermingling with social language. She has published three books steeped in poetry: White Blanket, Surviving Breathlessly, and Farvardin and I. A fourth one, Glue is in the press. She exhibited some of her paintings in 2007 at the Servat Gallery. Titled “Tolerate all these!”, the collection revolves around the theme of women and their agonies.
Her urban photographs explore loneliness in a way that many photographers can’t. Using everyday situations like the Church, a veiled door and faceless figures masked by lighting and shadows, Zahra helps create photographs that resonate loneliness in an anonymous and lonely existence. The faceless veiled woman outside the veil may have had a story of her own, a story that would never be known or heard, a voice that would be silenced by the rhythms of a pulsating city. The youngster in the church would be just any other person visiting it everyday. No questions asked, no answers given. A punishment that involves no violence, the punishment of disillusionment and that of facing the nothingness. Zahra Darvishian manages to capture the basic human issue of loneliness and disconnectedness in photographs that reek of banality and urban chaos.
Courtesy Zahra Darvishian