Under the Shadow of the Tower
Tehran; a huge city, a metropolis, 617 square kilometers and 15 millions population. I have lived in this city for more than 30 years. How fast the city has changed and how fast it is still changing. I remember the days with no highways, no high-rises, no towers, no traffic and less population. Now, life is so fast-paced in Tehran. So fast, that we forget ourselves, our environment, our city and its changes.
The city changes. Permanently, something is added to it or removed from it. Our image from the city is formed through the interaction between our accumulated mental memories and the process of permanent changes. The changes sediment gradually into our general historic image of the city, fuse into our urban daily life and then it seems as if they have always been there. We don’t notice them any longer.
Recently, where ever I go in this city, where ever I stand, where ever I look, I notice Milad Tower. This lofty static concrete structure has come as a new city symbol to define a different identity for Tehran. As if, it has come to manipulate our visual memories of this city, to conquer the city with its static shadow-casting presence and becoming the incontestable permanent panoptic observer of our lives. It seems it functions as a guardian. But guardian of what? Of people who are not noticing it anymore? Of deserted empty places and ruins? For me, the tower is a symbol of a culture that is growing so fast in Iran; culture of a minority wealthy social class which is boasting its masculinity, modernity, wealth and power. Like the tower that has no roots in Iranian architecture and tradition, the culture they are boasting is aborted; their masculinity is sterile, their modernity is a fake modernization, their wealth and power is a windfall. There is a huge contrast between the fast-paced growing minority wealthy social class and the mass population of the city which are swallowed by daily urban life.
I ask myself many times Why Milad Tower is there? What is it representing? What is it defining? Is it Tehran that defines the tower or it is the Milad Tower trying to create a new identity for the city? The challenge is over and the tower has sedimented in the city. It is there observing the city under its shadow.