LFI- Photobook of the Month
Book of the Month: Stacy Arezou Mehrfar, The Moon Belongs to Everyone
Text by Ulrich Rühter
The best thing to do is to browse through the book under a bright light, allowing the silver traces in the first pictures to shine all the more clearly on the black matte paper background. Some of the motifs show waterfalls in mountain landscapes, and it is only after a closer look that the black silhouette of a person becomes recognisable. Another example is a double spread that presents a couple of birds, their bright flight a blur against the black background – while, between them, there is an air plane that appears to be moving in the same direction as the birds.
The intention behind the book becomes evident from the first pages: it is a very poetic exploration of the theme of migration. The images that follow, also printed as double spreads, show nature and landscapes, close portraits and still lifes – all difficult to allocate unequivocally. A folded paper plate, an orange peel in a hand, an opened-up pomegranate: these motifs might be seen as memories, or moments buried in someone's biography.
A change of paper and the inclusion of strongly-coloured, almost monochrome, pages make browsing through this book a multi-faceted and surprising experience. The correlation between the pictures is associative and can only be understood as a visual narrative, which is not completely clear. This leads to thoughts about the loss of biographical roots and the search for belonging, present in the stories of so many immigrants. The only constant that appears between their two worlds is the moon. And this also explains the portion of pale, silvery pages in the book. The familiar moon can be understood as a bonding element that may even help overcome the fractures in life.
“I grew up knowing I was something ‘other’ than American.” The photographer has her own migration experiences: her family came from Iran to the USA back in the sixties; and when she herself moved unexpectedly to Australia later on, her family's feelings were reflected in her own experience. “I emigrated just after my 30th birthday. In Australia, the colour of the flowers, the warm yellow of the sun, and the oddly shaped trees were enchanting at first. Yet as time passed, I felt lost, in limbo. As an immigrant, my understanding of place, my sense of personal identity, even the impressions of my memories had shifted. Home became a place between here and there. I began to visually explore this sensation, making photographs in Australia and the United States,” the photographer explains. With her precisely-designed photo book, she offers insight into life between different continents and mentalities. Her touching images awaken feelings of loss and forlornness, of life in limbo, and of the search for one's own identity.