© Solmaz Daryani
A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.
It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.
Henry David Thoreau
People and places provide each other with identity, memories and the heritage of the past, like a storehouse of old pains and joys, connecting the chains of the past to the present.
My extended family members on my mother’s side were born and live in Sharafkhane, a tourist village and a port on the north coast of Lake Urmia, Iran, where my grandfather runs a motel. They used to live by renting the rooms to the tourists who came to visit Urmia, which once was the biggest salt lake in the Middle East and the sixth largest lake on earth.
In recent years, due to climate change, poor agricultural water management, the damming of rivers that fed the lake and the extraction of groundwater through thousands of illegal wells, Urmia has shrunk to 10% of its original size. Tourism and agriculture have waned. My grandparents’ garden dried up and their motel fell into a deserted ruin. The port became a depopulated village of elderly residents.
The turning point of my childhood and adolescence has already passed. I grew up in this village many years ago, before leaving for the big city, but since then the lake has changed so much that Sharafkhane has become nothing more than a ghost of the place in which I harboured my childhood memories.
This ongoing story intends to show how the drying up of Lake Urmia affects daily life in my grandparents’ village and it is also an effort to find the traces of my past, which has influenced my mentality and character.
Solmaz Daryani (b. 1985) – I’m an Iranian independent and amateur documentary photographer. I started my adventure of photography in 2012 and I use visual storytelling for understanding the people and life around me. Since 2014 I have been working on a long-term project about the impact of Lake Urmia’s drying up on the people living around it.
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