Cambodia-based photographer Thomas Cristofoletti photographs what he sees as evidence of the rapid growth of commercial ideologies in the theocratic state of Iran. On his website, beside some lush photos of scenes of shopping and use of technology in Iran, he quotes former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he said “Thankfully we are already witnessing that the capitalist system is in decay, on various stages it has come to a dead end — politically, economically and culturally.”
His scenes from grand bazaars and huge shopping malls, erected in the outskirts of major cities across the country such as Hyperstar, Iran’s first international-style hypermarket, built inside the Persian Gulf Complex, a huge mall built just outside Shiraz, do not prove anything. For an ideology to die out takes years and there can, even must be, dualities and duplicities within states with ideologies that are alternatives to mainstream capitalism. He’s also a bit confused when claiming that women purchase expensive beauty products as a “quiet route of defiance”. There are no restrictions on which beauty products a woman can buy, and she can dress how she likes in the privacy of her and other people’s homes. If she wore them in street even, there shouldn’t be a problem unless she falls into the path of some of the crazed acid throwers that have been plaguing the country of late in the name of Islam.
What he does do however it challenge our perception of a country oppressed, depressed and handicapped by faulty internet connections. Smuggling, relaxations of laws and progress have all made Iran as much a colourful, plastic and ad-packed shopping experience as any other major country in the world right now. Even if the designs are a little dated they are on par with other countries in the region.