My father died in late 2005. He had been in Iran for some 26 years, while I wasn’t, only occasionally having been in contact over that period. Because I was born in Iran, though having a Dutch passport, my Iranian legal status was a bit murky. As this specifically related to my potentially having to enlist in the army, upon entering the country without the proper paperwork in place, ‘just’ going over for a visit wasn’t much of an option.
I started getting the paperwork in order a few years before my father died. This required, first, having a pre-revolution Iranian birth certificate converted to a modern one, then acquiring Iranian identity papers, which then allowed me to get the right papers for visiting Iran, minimizing the risk of being detained upon arrival or, indeed, having to enlist.
After I was set to go, having planned my trip for January 2006, my father’s aunt called me in November 2005, saying my father had fallen ill and had been admitted to hospital. I bought a plane ticket and went to Iran, arriving a few days after said call. My father died the day before I arrived and I effectively went over to bury him, which was probably the most emotional event in my life.
During this period and for a while after, I wrote a series of letters to my father, in Dutch.
Amongst my father’s few possessions were a few hundred photos, almost all rather old, dating back at least to his own military service, with a few possibly even older. Most of the photos were shot during the 1960s, though there were probably quite a few shot during the 1970s. A lot of the photos I uploaded together with the ‘letters to my father’. Additionally, I also added the photos I took myself during my four week visit in 2005.
The photos from 2005 I have now, finally, moved to Flickr (or rather, my current slow internet connection allows me to upload a few per day), complementing some of the first photos I ever put up on Flickr, being pictures from my second trip to Iran in 2006. Almost all the photos my dad had I have now incorporated into the matrix you see below.
Asking the few people I could, it was rather impossible to make heads or tails of my father’s eclectic collection of pictures, though quite a few of them contain identifiable landmarks and some contain recognizable individuals. Most of the pictures were slides, with many of the slides never having been put into a frame. The quality of many of the slides had deteriorated significantly.
For the matrix of photos on this page, I took the collection of pictures and constructed something of a narrative, putting the photos in rough chronological order, starting with, what I think is, my father’s time at school, or perhaps university, followed by his military service, being greeted by Shah Reza Pahlavi. This is followed, first by some photos of my father’s sisters and then by a large series of group photos. This is followed by pictures from some kind of world fair in Iran and touristic images of Persepolis and Esfahan.
The focus then shifts to work-related images. My father was a civil engineer, and several of the images relate to waterworks, seemingly both in Iran and, probably, in the Netherlands. Then, images of my father with, what might have been, a Dutch love interest, not my mom, taken in, probably, Rotterdam and, perhaps, de Keukenhof. This is followed by photos of my mom and dad at Madurodam.
After this, there’s a series of images taken on what seems to have been touristic outings to Scandinavia, Hamburg, Berlin, Saarbruecken and London, before the story returns to Delft.
Most of the last row is taken up by photos of myself as a kid, pictures sent to my father after my parents’ divorce. The last photo was taken in Saarbruecken. Next to me are one of my father’s brothers, his wife and their kid.
The 484 photos, from start to finish, roughly run through one generation. Starting with my dad and finishing with myself, both roughly at the same age when the first and last photos were taken.