Through a documentary lens, photographer and filmmaker Tahmineh Monzavi pulls back the curtain on the lesser seen layers of society in her native Iran, fearlessly challenging some of its imposed and strictly policed cultural norms. Past Continuous looks further afield by reflecting on the changing nature of both Iran and Afghanistan’s urban landscape and the memories of her own childhood through photographing a series of ruined buildings, which still retain visible hints of their previous grandeur. The source of the destruction is very different however. While in Iran this destruction is the result of ‘progress’ in the shape of ongoing development and homogenous urban regeneration schemes, in neighbouring Afghanistan it is the result of decades of devastating war and occupation. In many of the images, isolated figures, stubborn items of furniture, brightly coloured wallpaper or personal belongings suggest an abiding human presence. Incongruous with the degradation and destruction of their surroundings, they create a powerful cocktail of memory, hopelessness and perseverance.
© Tamineh Monzavi, Past Continuous, Courtesy of the artist.