Postcards From Afar


As a way of documenting my locations, experiences, and intepretations while traveling throughout Iran, I offered to create postcards which would then be sent from Iran to the recipients. The process included a daily review of photography and hours spent each night creating a unique artwork representing time and space. In total 53 postcards were produced and sent to friends and family.

Making this project happen has not been easy, and much of this is due to the way business and operations are set up in Iran. There is no general store that you may be used to finding in the US or other Western countries where a person may find everything they need in one place. To print the images at a high enough quality I had to go to the district/area of Tehran that specializes in graphic design and printing – and for consistency, I only printed through one vendor. Each print was then glued to a cardstock. That cardstock was only found at a small art store, which unlike other industries can be spread throughout a town, but their stock on cardstock is often low. Large sheets were cut down in the hotel rooms, bus terminals, and houses that I stayed in. Spray adhesive is quite rare as well: art stores do not carry any, nor do any of the ‘glue’ stores (yes, stores here are extremely specialized and often found collectively in one area of the city). The only spray adhesive I managed to get were two strange cans that arrived “on special order” from a small crafts store in Shiraz. They worked, thankfully! I was also advised that should I ship these they would probably get damaged severely by the Iranian postal service, so I tracked down envelopes for them – and only one stationary store in the entire stationary district of Tehran had enough for all of the postcards.


This was quite a fun experience in culture and adaptation to create under non-ideal circumstances.


Post Offices in Iran are rarely used anymore, so they’re hard to find and often hidden on small streets. I eventually tracked one down where the single postman had a laugh at what I was trying to do and did his very best to convince me otherwise, he thought I was from Isfahan because of my accent and mannerisms as we broke down the situation. This is where politics has come into play: the value of the Rial is ridiculously low. It’s so low that the common currency is the Toman, which makes the Rial 1/10th of a Toman. Each card, which I intentionally made not to be flimsy, had an estimated shipping cost of $15 USD each.


Given the costs, each postcard was written, addressed, and ready to ship after I had returned to the United States. As a bonus to say ‘thanks for your understanding of adapting to this one circumstance’ to each recipient, I wrapped each of your postcards in some special wrapping paper from Iran.


Post-script: all of the original artworks were lost in a massive data loss event in August 2022. The only copies of the original postcards exist with the recipients.


Dimensions: 210 mm x 147 mm
Materials: print on cardstock