Antagonista: In the streets of Iran

Jorge Delgado-Ureña

From the Greek ἀνταγωνιστής – antagonistēs.opponent, competitor, villain, enemy, rival.

What does it feel like to live in country that the rest of the world preceives as an enemy, a villain?

I want to go to Iran to capture images that reflect what I see without the constraints of the concept of Breaking News.

I don’t want to photograph what it looks like; I want to photograph what it feels like as best as I can and share just a little bit of understanding about a location and its people in time. I would like you, the viewer, the audience, to go through the body of work with a perspective as if you are looking at pictures from the future.

Why? The whole idea is to skip the first two stages that everyone experiences with a visual story:

1- The Shock: 

Every new visual input, especially with something sensitive, feels shocking the first time we see it. This could create a set of problems in this particular project that I will try to avoid by not focusing on one specific topic or imposing a narrative. However, I will need your help. There will be subtext and context of some things that we might know about the country, but I would like to produce something that goes beyond what we think is fact. 

2- The Fog: 

After the shock, we tend to start understanding what we are looking at, sometimes creating a sense of contradiction where the expected mixes with the unexpected. We feel that we don’t have a real understanding of the story. 

My approach to skip that is by not focusing on the individual. I will not intentionally create or frame an exaltation a little bit theatricalised that we are somewhat used to seeing in the media. To reduce the role of the people as individuals, so I can try to portray a more global dynamics and empathy. By not using any specific subject, we can avoid the mistake of confusing criticism with sentimentalism, which creates a distance between you and the experience I intend to convey to you.

After the first two stages, if the author is lucky, we tend to develop an intimate relationship with the photographs, but that requires time. At that stage, we can truly internalize the story and have a meaningful conversation with it.

Why this approach? I believe that photography with the intention of being revolutionary tends to stay in the anecdote, and what’s worse is that it can be used by the powers that be, which can be the very thing you want to denounce.

This approach, I believe, will raise more questions than answers. In that conversation, maybe we can minimize the perception gaps that we all have, and together we can optimize the concept of shared reality. In this particular case, we can start asking if indeed Iran is an Antagonist and why.