mosaferat (checking on you), 2020
In just over a week, hundreds of ‘live cams’ guided me from the Balkans to Turkey along the Black Sea to Iran. My ability to observe changed according to the territory I crossed, creating a ‘live-archive’ of over 1600 images. Traveling both night and day, on mostly deserted highways, I had the freedom to stop in places never seen before. I met people I will never see again, and I crossed landscapes that are changing, taking advantage of our absence due to the pandemic. I had views incompatible with the idea of travel I had before, but unique for this idea of storytelling. Photographing remotely, with the same compulsion of the mobile phone in my hand in a possible present, I observed and orchestrated an everywhere-now, made of gestures, actions, and moments: they exist, and resist, even during our immobile distance.
In September 2019, I won a research project in Tehran. Initially planned for December, it was postponed to February, but after the killing of General Soleimani and increasing international tensions, my trip was again delayed. I should have left early in the summer 2020, but I guess it’s obvious why this date was also suspended. I could say that I will go in the future, aware that that future could remain a theoretical concept rather than a specific time to come. In all these months, as well as in this period, I stayed in touch with two Iranian friends with whom I shared long written conversations. For several weeks then “just checking on you” was probably the phrase that guided the beginning of all our dialogues. We are united by the hope of a possible and different world in which we can live more serenely, without violence. Perhaps it will happen through art-making? It sounds naive, I know, and it is somehow naive. I wonder if it is not what every intelligent person thinks every time they read a newspaper.
In Iran, they never had a strict quarantine imposed on citizens like in Italy and Europe. The Government simply invited them to stay at home. Friends told me, for example, how no one rushed in hopelessness to the shops: the usual social and political situation has accustomed them to many renouncements, and it is better to avoid the rise of goods prices that would penalise the poorest sections of the population. The stories of what happens and where they want to take me while visiting and researching, created every day a series of ‘optical illusions’ and ‘hypothetical trips’ along the streets of Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz. An itinerary, when only imagined, does not succeed in restoring the distance or the amplitude of a place: it will be images, as well as drawings and maps that will tell a real dimension, even temporal. After months of dialogue, this journey became a symbol of resistance, of solidarity, of shared desire: to see each other. So I decided to depart, questioning of my art practice and the meaning of fieldwork: one-way from Milan to Tehran by car, remotely.
mosaferat (checking on you). (2020)
Work consists of: 1600 digital images from Open Source live cams.
Alice Pedroletti with OpenStreetMap contributors and Insecam.