Iranian photographer Jalal Sepehr offers a rare perspective on global affairs through his recent series, “Red Zone;” the title refers to the unending state of alarm and panic thrust upon Middle Eastern populations as war and political unrest become commonplace. A road paved with Persian rugs lays at the center of each composition as it disappears into the horizon, establishing the common cultural thread shared by a people displaced. It feels as though the viewer is a part of this arduous journey, invited to walk the road ahead. Various obstacles – a sandstorm, a massive wall, a plane, and even a black hole – impede this almost idyllic path in each scene. While nothing but empty desert surrounds the trail of rugs, one cannot traverse the void; a sense of exclusivity accompanies the path as though it is the only useable route for an entire people. Cloudy, grey skies above create a sense of imminent danger, foreshadowing the troubles that lay ahead.
A Tehran Native, Sepehr presents genuine insight into the social and cultural impacts caused by a seemingly perpetual state of national instability. The “Red Zone” artfully translates a community’s complex hardship into a simplified, relatable visual metaphor.