I remember a misty image of my childhood so distant and fragile that I do not know whether it is fantasy or reality. I was accompanying my uncle in the neighbourhood where we lived. He went missing during the war and his body was eventually returned designated as a ‘Martyr’ after eleven years.
I see soldiers everywhere; on everyday roaming around the city, on the forgotten posters on the city’s walls. I see them and the idea that if there is a war, these soldiers will become a memory for me and for the city does not leave me. In my imagination, I see soldiers everywhere, timeless and placeless. Even if they strike a strident pose in front of my camera, in my mind, they are the ones who will go to war and lost in action. I see soldiers everywhere as if they are covered in the mist of memories. I see soldiers everywhere and keep telling myself that no soldier has returned from war.
This series was photographed using an Agfa Isolette camera on black and white film stock that had passed its expiry date. This model was first produced during WWII, and known as the ‘Soldiers’ Camera’. The expired negatives create enigmatic images, which also hide the soldiers’ identity. In fact, the soldiers all look the same, as their identity has disappeared in their uniform and their shared purpose to fight for the homeland.
The portraits are a combination of archival images of the Iran-Iraq war and photographs of the Martyrs’ Cemetery, printed on glass with the “Wet Collodion” technique; they are both fragile but immortal images. The video narrates the life during the war, a testimony of memories that do not return to be recounted in person. They are a reminder of a familiar story, that of no return and of missing. These images narrate forgotten stories, memories lost or permanently altered by war, and histories fading as we speak. It is an attempt to commemorate the many lives cut short and the way war alters us all. This work is an act of commemoration, treading a fine line between remembering and letting go.