Questions For. . . Banafsheh Ehtemam

1193154795The country of Iran dominates the news in terms of nuclear weapons and controversial leaders. But how many people know what it’s really like inside, away from the rehtoric? Banafsheh Ehtemam does. The Boston-based photographer was born in Iran and lived there until she was fifteen. Ehtemam wants us to see the beautiful parts of her country. We talked to Ehtemam about her upcoming exhibit at the Boston Architectural College, Iran’s art scene, and navigating the country.

Why did you decide to do this exhibit now?
For the past four years, I’ve been going back to Iran every year for about two months. I travel all over to document every city, especially their arts and culture. I was talking to someone at the BAC and they decided to do this.

How is Iran’s art scene in general?
Iran is a large country and it’s divided in the sense that there are all these different cultures that exist in Iran. Generally speaking, Iranians are really into the arts. It’s part of our culture; we grew up with it. The Iranian Revolution hasn’t really changed the art scene. We like our fun, we like to enjoy life, and that’s reflected in the art.

In what ways does Iranian architecture appeal to you?
2,500 years of wars and changes have not changed the country’s architecture. It’s such a strong part of Iranian culture and it’s a continuous thing, which fascinates me.

What are the travel challenges?
Getting there is difficult. You have to switch from busses to trains to mules, but generally it’s never been a problem. For me, it’s been a real piece of cake traveling in Iran. Iranians love foreigners. They’re born with it, it seems. I’m not suggesting that Americans get a visa and travel to Iran, but I’ve never had a problem myself.

Iran, the country of Roses! opens with a lecture from Banafsheh Ehtemam on Wednesday at 4p.m.