tehran is not only a city, but also a body to thousands of hidden scars’ is the premise for sepehr maleki’s ongoing project, ‘hidden scars’. the photomontage collection and theoretical proposal, sets tehran as a non-responsive mega city, ‘a mother for countless fetuses that, like passive parasites, feed only on the host’s body’. the project explores constructions and high rises contrasting against the capitalist environment and the lack of humanity of the said structures.

maleki poses that from the beginning of modernity in iran and the reign of capital, fledgling capitalism has imposed a new hierarchy that has never been able to cover the wounds of both cultural and romantic relationships, as well as the impact of history on everyday life. the emergence of high-rise buildings as gigantic objects on the urban surface, resulted from a capitalist top-to-bottom process. they symbolize the glory of modernity and the state capital and are not necessarily meant to establish a dialogue with the urban everyday life, but serve as tools for nourishing and ensuring the life cycle of production and consumption.


the designer wonders, ‘but where are the people’s scars? those real signs of life, signs of historical anger, anxiety, excitement, love, fear and apprehension, sadness and in other words a ‘romantic experience.’ the modern city negates all the chaos and hides the everyday lives of the people, to optimize the power of production and encourage consumerism.


accordingly, buildings and social systems in general bring the most capital reproduction and encouragement to consumption, according to maleki. such systems negate and even forbid genuine human and romantic experiences since these interactions are not essentially a producer-consumer nature, but rather seek a human pleasure or escape in the existential sense of the word.


‘in a space full of integrated machine systems serving the production and supply of goods and services, how can you have a truly romantic experience?’, the designer ponders. through the collapse of the vicious and fully functional shell of the modern city, and removing scars beneath this cover, lies a parasitic, non-hierarchical, networked, and organically-grown city, organized not from top to bottom but from the heart of homes, neighborhoods, and streets. shouting at whatever is imposed on the city and the accumulation of capital and pure functionalism.

resilient textures or merely non-functional symbols that add to the city’s romantic experience, emerge as a plant from the heart of the city. they grow in parallel with the real wants and needs of the people, and thus become a complete mirror of current realities in the heart of the tehran. ‘mother tehran and the purely nourishing fetuses who are its citizens have shaped the iron structure of current modernity. scars hidden in the womb of mother tehran.

project info:

project name: ‘hidden scars’

designer: sepehr maleki

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