Bahar Majdzadeh (Paris): Topography of the absence of the Iranian political exiles

About thirty years ago, the French writer Patrick Modiano found an ad published in the Paris-Soir newspaper, dated 31st December 1941, in which the Bruder Family were looking for their 15 years old daughter, Dora. This ad led Mondiano to do researches about the circumstances of the disappearance of this teenager, and this quest in Paris constituted his book entitled Dora Bruder. As Mondiano, my mapping of the absent persons, the 1980’s exiled political militants of Iran, grew out of a personal experience. It originates from what Maurice Halbwachs calls the inherited history, or the trans-generational memory as Paul Ricoeur defines it or in Jan Assmann’s words, the communicative memory. Indeed in the memories told by my parents, and in their photo albums, there were people who I knew they were not dead, but yet they were absent. There was no trace left of their presence in the city where we lived. It is this experience of absence, that, different from the absence of an object or of a dead person, can broaden the scope of loss. I resorted to the official map of Tehran as a possible support of representation on which I showed traces and marks of the life these people had in this city. I asked these exiles to tell me a memory linked to a place in Tehran. The search for these traces led me to more complex issues; the archives, the counterarchives, the amputated memories. I will analyse in my paper, through my artistic project, how it is possible to use absence as a mean to represent what has been lost and to find a new way of collecting and preserving it.