Present-day Iran, a country popularly known to the Western World as Persia, is considered by many unsafe and risky. But even in troubled times, there’s more to the nation than what is shown by the mainstream media.
Hospitable and culturally rich, Iran has a lot to offer through its heritage and friendly people.
It was through the eyes of Sarah Pannell that we discovered a raw and unprejudiced view of Iran. Back in 2016, the photographer travelled extensively across the country and journeyed from the capital city of Tehran to Qazvin in the North, Tabriz in the West, Isfahan in the South, and Shiraz, Kerman, and Yazd in the East.
Her attraction to the country compels her to keep revisiting it and often times turns it into the subject of her work. With a published photo book named Tabriz to Shiraz and innumerable photographic material, Sarah showcases the warmth and generosity of the families she stayed with and their beautiful homes.
Today — and in a time where Iran is making the news — we showcase Sarah’s tender view, where between parks, cafes, and landscapes, the everyday lives of the people of Iran are captured.
The way that it has been portrayed in Western photojournalism in particular is quite narrow and misleading. You see the same cliched images; it does not give a clear idea of what it is like there.Sarah Pannell – As said to the British Journal of Photography
Iran is said to be home to one of the oldest civilisations in the world and the Middle East country definitely stands out in terms of its rich cultural grandeur. In select heritage sites, one can find evidences of ancient human life dating back to over 40,000 years.
Nevertheless, many would still advise not to visit the country. Despite its potential and patrimony, the 1979 Iranian revolution came to change the course of Iran’s history and with the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the perspective of the nation turned.
Studying Middle Eastern History and Politics, Pannell’s interest in Iran aroused from a university assignment and never left ever since. Its cultural ramifications, complexities, and many of the struggles it imposes to its people, seemed worth exploring and documenting.
In the process, Sarah observed and experienced the beauty and pizzazz of the society through the eyes of the inhabitants she met and the homes she lived in. Not aiming to adopt a political intent, Pannell simply looked to portray Iran with the free and open mind that is usually in absence.
Nowadays, the photographer plans to continue documenting Iran and exploring its core values. For now, her experience can be found in 40 images comprised in her book Tabriz to Shiraz.
Sarah Pannell is an Australian visual artist who concentrates on the topics of culture, landscape, tradition, and community. Her inquisitiveness acts as a catalyst in encouraging her to travel as often as she can and document different realities.
To see more of Sarah’s work, visit her visit her Cherrydeck profile or her website, here. You can also check her interview for the BJP here. For more inspiration and contemplation of culture through photography, visit Looking for Hamza, by our member Fred Lahache. 🍒