Since moving to the United States, it seems that each time when I visit my native Iran, I do so as a visitor – or at least feel that way. It is no longer my home. Home is the place I wake up every morning, and where I watch daily life unfold in the streets. On my return visits to Iran, the first thing to surprise me after my own parents’ faces, is the ever-changing appearance of the streets, the unstoppable mutation of Tehran. Many things have become exotic for me. I feel I am living in my memories, visiting my past. Sometimes I wish I could freeze time. Streets, people, language, friends, and family are interesting to me. I look at them not as Sara but as a guest who is stopping by for a visit.
30 Seconds is a video project meant to evoke the feeling of being an immigrant in one’s own homeland. To see what should be familiar people and locations as different and exotic.
The video itself is an overwhelming binary, in reality, two videos on two different screens. The viewer sees it as a single video in two screens, but with separate left and right stereo soundtracks. There are many pieces of footage assembled together like a puzzle, with the pieces appearing and disappearing in a dissonant way which highlights the feeling of being a visitor in one’s own homeland. Each scene is 30 seconds long – enough to get a glimpse, but not quite enough to fully comprehend the context. Each scene recorded in a fixed angle and does not have much movement. It was shot in several public locations in Tehran and Hamedan, such as streets, a mosque, galleries, old ruins, and so on.
Each little individual puzzle piece of footage has its own audio, creating an overwhelming cacophony. The video was recorded with a lightweight HD Sony camera which was easy to carry in my hand and be discreet. I had the camera everywhere I went in Iran over a period of two months. At first, my family and friends complained about it, but eventually got used to it and forgot that I was recording. The most challenging environments for me to shoot were the ones where I had to hide the camera, and myself, behind a veil – such as a mosque scene.