In this photographic series, Saman Aghvami touches on an issue at the heart of the experiences of Torontonians from diasporic communities: the notion of “home,” both present and past, and the interconnections between them. Specifically, I’m Not There consists of portraits of Iranians living in exile in Toronto. The portraits are taken in the subjects’ current homes while an image of a place of their choosing from Iran is projected onto them. The subjects appear in dialogue with spectral presences of loved ones left behind and familiar haunts no longer frequented. A handwritten narrative by the subject accompanies each image, reflecting on the experiences of home, exile, and the spaces in-between. The result is a complex series of layered images and text that give voice and physical form to a phenomenon usually relegated to the realm of imagination. The image provide access to the fleeting memories and feelings of home that construct the inner and material worlds of diasporic communities. Beyond a physical sense of place, this project invites viewers to consider the shifting notions of territory that shape identity in an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape.
Curated by Samantha Wehbi