an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
Davoud Chenari works in the shop where he sells wood. Once his house stood here, but it had to be destroyed due to its age. "I know my grandfather, but my son doesn't know him. After two or three generations we will be forgotten." he says and adds: "Nothing to be sad about it, that is the nature."

on poetry and what remains

laila sieber

In some parts of the old city of Tehran, it is still possible to see the past shining through an otherwise modern city. Walking through these areas feels like peering into distant memories, with an altogether uncertain future. With this in mind, I ask myself: what remains? As I discuss poetry with the people I meet, I recognise the eternal power of well known Iranian poets – but what about everyday communities, and their unsung quotidian poetry?

 

I encounter a military veteran with a peaceful love for all creatures, who tells me of the cursed nature of war. I speak with an old woman, who regrets the fact she never married. I watch while a widow laughs with her son, as she recalls how she first fell in love with her husband. I listen to a timber merchant, who contemplates how we could be all but forgotten after just two or three generations. He does not lament; this is the nature of our existence, he says.

 

All the while, I photograph with the old camera of my grandfather, who passed away before my first birthday. Like the houses that have yet to be replaced, the camera seems to have resisted change over time. Through framing visual poems with it, I connect not only to the people and places I encounter, but also to a past I did not know. The gradual feel of the analogue process allows me to choose my motives carefully – but now I leave it to the viewer, what will remain.

an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
Mr. Ghanbari takes care of the Tughul tower, a 12th century monument which can measure time by sunlight and shadow. He often jokes with tourists when he explains the tower's function, and pictures them with their phones in front of it. The scars on his face, caused by chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war, are still visible - yet he doesn't like to talk about war. Instead, he says; "I love nature, and all creatures are good," before saving a flying cockroach that was entangled, and setting it free.
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
Shahrzad Tahami manages the photography store of her late husband. She laughs with her son when she tells the story of how she came to the studio every day, where at that time her future husband worked. She just wanted to see him, and the photos she bought were good excuses to do so. After some weeks he asked her: "Do you love me?" And she answered: "Yes. How do you know that?“
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
Mohsen guards a sports ground that can rarely be seen in the old area of southern Tehran. He works in shifts during the day and at nighttime. His daughter died when she was two years old, and he will never forget the good times he had with her. But the deep sadness, and the feeling of having lost her life, also remain.
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
Klaris Piryani works in an old cafe in central Tehran. If something remains it would be friendship, she says. With her colleague Adrine, she recalls an Armenian song, their voices softly filling the cafe. Both Armenian, they are part of the Christian minority in Iran.
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
"After we die, the soul leaves the body and only the skeleton remains." The elderly Jewish lady Rahel has lived in one of the oldest synagogues in southern Tehran for 40 years. She regrets not to have married. "I was stubborn," she explains.
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
an image from 'on poetry and what remains' - a photography project by Laila Sieber featured on blume
laila sieber - on poetry and what remains
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