Claudia Borgia


Tehran 2019 - ongoing

I come back

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, an increasing number of Iranians leave the country for political and religious reasons. The first to repair abroad are the closest to the Shah, who consider themselves threatened by the new regime. With the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, dissidents and opponents of the theocratic regime also flee abroad. Social repression also causes brain drain. The situation worsens when Iraq declares war on Iran. The migratory flow abroad never stops and rears up again on the occasion of the arrival of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power. In 2005 and even more after the protests following his second and controversial election victory in 2009, the fierce repression of the regime and the serious economic crisis pushed thousands of people to take the path of exile. These are mainly activists, journalists, and simple demonstrators forced to flee because they are considered opponents.

On the sidelines of this diaspora, there are stories of a very small percentage of Iranians who, after spending a few years abroad, for various reasons decide to return. Barghestan is the persian word meaning “I come back”, the conjugation of the first singular person of the verb to come back. The stories of Sabà (31), Rambod (34) and Rahi (36) belong to this microcosm. The project was carried out in Tehran in 2019.

Sabà arrives in Rome in 2006, when she was 18, after Ahmadiejad's election. Her mom had warned her “if Ahmadiejad wins in the next election, you will join your sister”. Her sister was already in Rome. After 8 years, she chose to return to Tehran. Sabà says: “I have chosen to come back to Tehran. I was tired. I could not do what I liked, and what I had learned in Rome at the Valle Theater, and I could not earn enough to make a normal life”. The Valle Theater is the oldest modern theater in Rome. It was occupied on June 14, 2011, after the closure of the Italian Theater Authority, by a group of show business workers, activists and free citizens in protest that the building was kept public through popular participation and managed with transparency criteria. Sabà entered the Valle Theater to take a light designing course, the job she is doing in Tehran, as head of his team.

Rambod decided to go to the United States at 26, partly for study Fine Art, partly for love. After 5 years he decided to come back. Actually, it happened that his visa application was rejected as an artist. So he decided to appeal and not to use any of the other options that his lawyer had proposed to him: seek asylum, marry an american woman, declare himself gay, convert to Christianity. The rejection cames to him when he was already in Iran. Before the rejection he decided to come back. In Tehran he is running a graphic designer studio. So many its vicissitudes that Rambod comments on his experiences abroad: "for me the idea of living in the West is dead".

Rahi was 21 when he left and never thought about living abroad. He has been in Vienna for six years. He studied at the Music and Arts Private Univercity of Vien. He sais: “As a composer I make contemporary music, music for the world. It means asking yourself how to translate your culture and your country with a language that everyone can understand. Here in Tehrean to compose my music I need nothing more than to live my life. The melody comes to my head if I'm on the bus, if I walk on the street, if I'm just at home”. When he finished the course of study, he came back to Tehran.

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