* Mundus is a project created with Nahid Rezashateri
In 2015, Iran began work on one of the most impressive water works in the Middle East: a tunnel to divert the water of the Gulf of Oman to the desert regions of the country to try to stem the drought problem. In recent decades, more than 8000 villages have been abandoned by farmers due to desertification. In the coming years, entire regions of the country could turn into almost completely uninhabitable areas. Lakes and rivers are dying and the country's aquifers are running out due to the growing population and needs of the agricultural sector. The profitable pistachio industry, the Persian "green gold", also pays the price.
The Iranian plateau, surrounded by two huge mountain ranges and subject to a harsh semi-arid climate, is cultivated and inhabited thanks to the water that every spring descends from its mountains at the melting of the snow thus filling the underground slopes and qanat, the ingenious traditional water systems that for thousands of years have allowed the transport and storage of water in arid areas. Now the few rains are not enough to regenerate the aquifers and the country is now consuming a good part of its reserves. Waste, dated irrigation techniques, pollution and global warming of the climate contribute dramatically to the phenomenon of desertification.
In the summer in southeastern Iran, temperatures even exceed 43 degrees in the complete absence of rain. In June 2017, Ahvaz, near the Persian Gulf, recorded one of the highest temperatures ever: 53.7 degrees Celsius. In May, the Lavar cyclically rises, a warm wind, known as the 120-day wind, which sweeps the semi-arid plains and covers the entire territory of sand, while animals such as deer and leopards are becoming extinct.
The Urmia and Bakhtegan lakes have largely disappeared and in Isfahan the famous Khaju bridge is suspended for a good part of the year due to the lack of water on the Zayandeh river bed.
The project Mundus tells all this by focusing on the dizzying change of the territory and its perception. Family archive photos and childish drawings tell the memory and perception of a lived and alive landscape - a private family lexicon where the landscape is configured as an anthropological and emotional background - in contrast and dialogue with recent images that testify to the ongoing desertification and a change that not only affects the landscape with its climatic and physical factors, but also and above all our perception of it that is becoming increasingly dystopian. The landscape, as the social sciences remind us, is always an anthropological place, a semantic container made of relationships, memories, history and identity, therefore in the face of ecological emergencies and such dramatic changes, what we are experiencing is first of all a personal cultural Apocalypse , the end of a world, the crisis of a presence that no longer finds solution and salvation in any symbolic-ritual destorifying mechanism.
The uninhabitable desert advances and the wind blows away the memories and traces of a world that has been.
"On the sands of the desert as on the waters of the oceans it is not possible to stay, to take root, to live, to live permanently. In the desert as in the ocean one must continually move, and thus let the wind, the true master of these immensities, erase every trace of our passage, make again the expanses of water or sand, virgin and untouched "A.Moravia
© SARAB COLLECTIVE Nahid Rezashateri, Gianluca Ceccarini