Parma photo exhibition offers travel to long-gone Middle East

Farian Sabahi, a trained historian, offers a world seen and immortalised just prior to and immediately after terrible conflicts began.

Friday 02/07/2021
Farian Sabahi inaugurated her exhibition “Safar: Journey in the Middle East” at Spazio A in Parma. (https://cultura.gaiaitalia.com/)
Farian Sabahi inaugurated her exhibition “Safar: Journey in the Middle East” at Spazio A in Parma. (https://cultura.gaiaitalia.com/)

PARMA, Italy - An unusual exhibition of photographs of the Middle East taken in the seven years to 2005 before much of the region descended into violence has just opened in Parma, Italy.

The “Safar” (“Journey”) shows off the work of Italian-Iranian photographer Farian Sabahi. However, it not only displays 60 of her images taken in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Yemen but it is accompanied by a sound track of voices variously in Arabic, Persian, Italian, French and English.

Nor are they any old voices; they include Orhan Pamuk, Turkish writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature; Father Paolo dell’Oglio; Syrian poet Adonis; a fisherman on the Tigris; former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein; a homosexual man in Dubai; former Iranian President Muhammad Khatami; architect Darab Diba; philosopher Dariush Shayegan; Pakistani attorney and activist Bilqis Tahira; Azerbaijani historian Altay Geyushev; Azerbaijani artist and gallery owner Aida Mahmudova; film director Pierpaolo Pasolini; Yemeni activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Tawakkol Karman and Iranian writer Azar Nafisi.

 

Italian-Iranian photographer Farian Sabahi (fariansabahi.com/fotografie)
Italian-Iranian photographer Farian Sabahi (fariansabahi.com/fotografie)

The word “Safar” also encompasses the multiple meanings of the exhibition. It tells the stories of Sabahi’s travels, the places and people she portrayed and it also calls on visitors to take a geographic as well as emotional journey.

In her images Sabahi, a trained historian, offers a world seen and immortalised just prior to and immediately after terrible conflicts began in some of these countries, a twisted world, even where wars weren’t fought but where the scars of old conflicts remain or where progress challenges the more traditional aspects of daily life.

Included in the shown are Sabahi’s Italian and Iranian passports and visas for the countries she photographed, as well as her Nikon camera and the lenses she used, along with a recorder.