Hors-série / Special issue 14
Novembre/ November 2023


The unsettled city

My City Lost Its Name
Video, 13 min. 17 sec., 2023

My City Lost Its Name is a work in progress addressing my memories of the city I was born in and where I lived until the age of 13. It was a small city in Iran, built in the late 1920s by Reza Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty and named Shahi in his honor. When the Islamic regime took power in 1979, it established a policy to minimize the traces and references to former kings. The new regime revised how history was taught in schools, changed names of many streets, cities, institutions, and even banned first names including the word Shah (meaning king in Persian). Thus the name of my hometown was wiped off from all maps. The Islamic government renamed the city Ghaemshahr in reference to a Shiite Saint of 10th century.
At first the new name did not seem to bear real consequences, because the city continued to exist under its new name, but over time, the memories of the city gradually lost their points of reference. The city of yesterday became a floating one, an unsettled city.