Amreeka

On Thanksgiving week, my uncle finally brought his family over to the US from Iran after a long 15-year immigration process.

I documented their arrival and their first few days in the US.

Client

Personal Work

Responsibilities

Photography

Essay

The backdrop of Thanksgiving week was perfect for its symbolism in a historical context –  a new beginning in a new world –  and also for the modern hustle and bustle of America and what it signifies in terms of commerce, social Darwinism, and media saturation as they occur on one of the most anticipated American holidays of the year.

Most fascinating was how each person dealt with change:

  • Daryoush, the father and husband, trying his best to manage the transition – logistically, emotionally, and spiritually – for his family.
  • Nahid, Daryoush’s wife, visibly overwhelmed by the shift while still doing her best to maintain a dignified Iranian lady’s composure.
  • Nima, the teenage son, who was less than thrilled to leave his home and friends in Iran for the discomfort of a foreign landscape and culture.
  • Yalda, the pre-teen girl, embracing change with remarkable fluidity, brightness, and brilliant curiosity.

Documenting their ability to buy the things we take for granted here in the US and the anxiety faced when shopping during the busiest nation-wide retail occasion of the year- “Thanksgiving Black Friday” – was pure serendipity. From buying their first car and bed to moving into their new apartment; to opening the letters containing their social security cards to the overwhelming consumer and media culture – its a miracle that the unit didn’t crack in the wave of the fast, ferocious, and dizzying relocation.

If anything, this series speaks to the pursuit of the American Dream,  the “brave new world” that the USA may perversely represent to some, and the true beacon of hope it symbolizes to others.

 

Black and White Film, Silver-Gelatin print, fiber paper