The Eyes of Earth tells a deeply personal story about the environmental disaster at Lake Urmia as seen through the eyes of Solmaz Daryani, a self-taught photographer, who grew up on the lake. Her grandfather ran a lakefront hotel in the tourist port of Sharafkhaneh and her uncles were sailors. She spent her childhood summers with her grandparents on the lake and, less than a decade ago, her grandfather hosted dozens of people every day. It was the disappearing lake and faded childhood memories that induce her to take the camera and start documenting what was left of the largest lake in the Middle East and the second largest salt lake on the planet.
Lake Urmia has lost 88% of its surface area in the last three decades. Daryani’s photographs depict a desaturated landscape, as if colors had evaporated with the water. Stranded boats and abandoned houses can be seen where a once lively seaside village stood. Images from her family albums will juxtapose the vibrant past with the desolate and depopulated present.
The publication of The Eyes of Earth seeks to raise awareness of the consequences of water mismanagement and the inescapable effect of climate change on human communities.
The Eyes of Earth is the fruit of the 2021 FotoEvidence W Award. It is designed by Portuguese designer Joao Linneu. The photography is edited by Manoocher Deghati who also spent his childhood summers on Lake Urmia some 40 years ago. A personal essay by the photographer and a short text of some of Deghati’s memories provide personal narratives that reveal the intimate relationship between this human community and the ecosystem they depended on. Introduction by Massoud Tajrishi, director of the planning office of the Lake Urmia Restoration Program.
The book will contain 112 pages, 45 color photograph and 19 images from the Daryani’s family archive.
The Eyes of Earth is dedicated to Narges Qasempoor, Solmaz’ grandmother. An illiterate woman who knew the importance of balance between humans and nature and managed to plant 800 trees during her lifetime. She died from Covid-19 during the process of creating the book.
Solmaz Daryani is a self-taught, Iranian photographer and photojournalist, based between the UK and Iran. Her work explores the connections between socio-economic disruption, climate change migration, water scarcity, and the environment in her native Iran. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the Islamic Azad University in Tehran. Daryani has worked internationally, covering social and environmental stories in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Solmaz is the recipient of the 2021 FotoEvidence W Award for “The Eyes of Earth” a long-term investigation into the environmental and human impact of the drying of Lake Urmia, one of the most unfortunate environmental disasters in Iran. This work also received IdeasTap and Magnum Photos grants in 2015. In 2016, she received the Magnum Foundation Photography in Collaboration grant for “On Religion,” a project documenting the intersection of religion and environment with a focus on the Mandaeans minority religious community and their interaction with the Muslim community in Ahvaz, in south-western Iran.
Her work has been published by international magazines and newspapers including: National Geographic, L’OBS Magazine, Foreign Policy, Polka, and Zenith among others.
The FotoEvidence Women Award is devoted to engaged women photographers who want to tell their personal stories in the form of a photo book.
Buy the book here!
European book launch of The Eyes of Earth by Solmaz Daryani, winner of the FotoEvidence W Award for women during the Prix Bayeux Calvados, October 9th, 2021
The 2021 FotoEvidence W Award for Women
19 Rue Laitière, 14400 Bayeux, France
September 28, 2021 to October 31, 2021