GOST, 2020. First edition. Hardcover, 128 pp., 68 color illustrations, 206 x 290 mm. Photographs by Sébastien Cuvelier. Design by Stuart Smith.
Paradise City is a personal search through both the contemporary and ancient landscapes of Iran to locate an elusive, dreamlike version of paradise. My journeys to Iran were inspired by a manuscript written on my late uncle’s journey to Persepolis nearly 50 years ago.
The sheer concept of paradise is inherently Iranian. The word paradise comes from old Persian paridaida – meaning walled garden. It is therefore only natural that this word resonates in all corners of a country where history is full of nostalgia, people are deeply romantic and flowers are everywhere. The country’s young and connected population has had to constantly adjust its way of living since the 1979 revolution, in order to circumvent the limitations imposed by the Government. They seek paradise, but are unsure where to look.
I attempted to reflect this pursuit of paradise through metaphorical, fleeting and illusive images – each appearing like a piece of an intangible jigsaw combining what once was or could be, with the present. Paradise City shows glimpses of contemporary Iran through the eyes of the people I met – at times romanticised, nostalgic or even utopian. — Sébastien Cuvelier