31 August 2020
31 August 2020 - Written by PhMuseum
Hashem Shakeri's work Cast Out of Heaven takes a look at the largest state-funded housing plan in the history of Iran and seeks to underline the negative domino effects linked to massive population growth in new towns outside the country’s capital.
The current U.S. sanctions against Iran and the subsequent drastic drop in the value of the Iranian currency are fueling skyrocketing housing prices in Iran. This is forcing many Tehraners to leave the capital without any intention of coming back ever again. Under the present circumstances, tenants are looking to move to satellite towns to cut down on accommodation costs. The Mehr Housing Project initiated in 2007 was the largest state-funded housing project in the history of Iran.
What followed was rapid urban population growth and the construction of new towns. However, sufficient measures were not taken to ensure healthy living conditions for those who came to inhabit these new towns. Suffering critical shortcomings are Parand, Pardis and Hashtgerd, three newly-constructed towns on the margins of Tehran. These are huge islands of soaring skyscrapers and indiscriminately developed apartments filled with crowds of people and cars. They begin but seem to have no end.
Besides the huge population of Tehraners, people from all over Iran are migrating to these new towns. These are notorious for social pathologies, like high rates of suicide among pupils and drug abuse. The residents of Parand talk about how the town’s population has doubled over the past six months, reaching 200,000. Yet, the town can hardly provide educational, social and health care services for 10,000. Sleep-deprived newcomers leave early in the morning to get to their workplaces in the capital over daily commuting distances of 2-3 hours. The relentless repetition of this timeless cycle makes them more alienated and more frustrated day by day. And that is not all. A great part of the population is on the verge of alienation and frustration but for a quite contrasting reason: escalating unemployment. Here is the land of those cast out of their heaven – the metropolitan Tehran. And they all share the bitterness of the fall.
Words and Pictures by Hashem Shakeri.
Hashem Shakeri is an artist, photographer and filmmaker who lives in Tehran. One of his major concerns is the psychological investigation of human relationships in the contemporary world. By capturing restlessness, perplexity and social struggle in the modern capitalist world, He records the optical unconsciousness of the society and provides a universal narrative form with a personal insight. He has held various exhibitions around the world, being shown in many museums, festivals and biennales. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.
This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.