Girls having lunch on the topfloor of Azadi cinema in Abbas Abad, north of Teheran

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  • IRAN UNDERGROUND


REPORTAGE: December 2012 - April 2016


In Iran people and government are two diametrically different worlds: this is significantly evident for the privileged youth, studying and populating the main cities of the country. On one side, they are immersed in the rich traditional culture of the Persian heritage, which is imbued with Islamism. On the other side, they are always more influenced by the influx of global culture, which is moulding people lifestyles and visions of reality.


Despite the government censorship on blogs, international news sources, and social networks - exacerbated after the ‘green movement’ which shook the country in 2009 - the impact of the medias have accelerated an unprecedented process of transformation amongst Iran’s youth. Cable TV, Internet and social networks, accessed by proxy programs, have become enlightening channels of information and methods of congregation for the youth.


Where the Orwellian gaze of the system can’t reach, an alternative and parallel reality unfolds, a world a side, with other values and other dominant rules. In private the real culture of the metropolitan contemporary Iran develops, open to western and oriental influences, open to change and hungry for diversity. Young people gather together in parks and at private parties, which attract many people as they seek of fun. 

But what is becoming increasingly appealing for the youngster of Iran is the spirit of free traveling, which has already become a lifestyle for many. Hitchhiking without money nor destination, sleeping in tents, or in unknown people houses, climbing mountains and chilling at the beach, improvising parties in every situation and especially sharing their photos and discoveries in social networks like Instagram, Telegram and Couch Surfing, which are all extremely popular amongst Iranians.


Ako, one of the young travelers I have been following around his journeys with his friends, has already become very popular in Instagram with over 27k followers. His photos depict the daily life in Iran, mixing the images of his way of living and traveling with the ones of the many different people and ethnics of Iran. His work is a subtle attempt to spread a culture of love, courage and openness amongst the people of his generation, which often fall into depressions because of their own perceived lack of freedom in Iran, or resort to leaving the country is they have the chance to.







People enjoying their time next to a huge bike placed in a park in the outskit of Kerman

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Young couple kissing during a photo-shooting at the beach of Busher, on the day of their marriage. They meet through the social network Couch Surfing while they were traveling in Iran.

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A scene from a liberal Iranian wedding in the outskirts of Busher, where the dress-code strays from what is legally enforced.

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A scene from a liberal Iranian wedding in the outskirts of Busher, where the dress-code strays from what is legally enforced.
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Man writes his wishes for the new year to come (Now Ruz) at a non-religious clandestine meditation-celebration in Teheran. He is writing to a lady, hoping to improve his relation with her and to solve a problem they have.

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Women sitting all together in circles during the meditation for the new year, aimed at turning their dreams into reality, at a private center in Teheran.

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Young women bursting into tears during the moving meditation approaching Now Ruz in Teheran.

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Yoga class for only man in south of Teheran.

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Tehrani boy with a sticking plaster on his nose, a few days after having done plastic surgery, which is very popular in Iran and for some became a kind of status symbol

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Teheran

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Teheran at night, seen from the North of the city

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One young woman wearing hijab and staring at some sexy clothes in front of a lingerie shop in Tehran

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Friends smoking in the car in the city of Ahwaz. For Iranians, the car is a space of freedom.

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One girl is browsing the internet. Despite Facebook and Twitter have been censored by the government after the post-election turmoil in 2009, the biggest protest in the history of the Islamic Republic, people are still accessing these social networks through proxy programs.

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Tehran’s underground. A couple stay nearby, notwithstanding the law that wants them to divide.

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A group of young musicians playing together while traveling by train to an island in the South in seek of a few days of freedom far away from the pressure of Teheran

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Girl rolling a joint over a banknote with the face of the ayatollah Khomeini

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Friends standing by the fire on a journey on an island on the South of Iran

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Young guys from Teheran taking mescaline in the desert, to escape from the pressures of the city

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oung girl preparing for the English IELTS exam with the intention of moving to study abroad

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BECAUSE WE WERE LOST


2016


For the youngest generations of Iranians, ideas of freedom are contagious. In the last years, things have changed a big deal on how boys and girl interact with each others and imagine their future. They are born after the revolution. They don’t recognise themselves with the mentality of their parents. They are inspired and influenced by the global culture that they can access through social media, especially Instagram and CouchSurfing. One of the greatest trend of change is the development of a new culture of traveling, which perfectly fits the needs a generation looking for freedom, truth and especially fun. Traveling has become a must for many young people, eager to get to know their country and their country-mates, to break free from the pressure of family and society, and ultimately to share unusual stories with their friends. The always more courageous generations has shifted the barrier between the possibile and the impossibile in Iran. The government itself has chosen not to impede this change to happen, to maintain its legitimacy and avoid the spread of a discontent that reached its peak with the green movement in 2009. This is a story of a group of traveler with few cash in their pockets, that I’ve followed on their journeys in Iran.

Road leading to Baluchistan

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People dancing at a private party in Isfahan


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