The Eyes of Death
Solmaz Daryani’s long-term photographic project The Eyes of the Earth – The Death of Lake Urmia (since 2014) depicts the severe ecological and social changes resulting from the drying up of Lake Urmia in her native Iran. The lake in the north-western corner of the country was once the largest salt lake in the Middle East. Over the past twenty years the volume of the lake has diminished by up to eighty per cent due to climate change and the damming of its tributaries. As Daryani reports, ‘the desiccation is one of the most unfortunate environmental disasters in Iran in recent years. It will increase the frequency of salt storms that sweep across the exposed lakebed, diminishing the productivity of the surrounding land and encouraging farmers to move away.’ In her vast images, the artist has captured the dystopian landscape of the desiccated salt lake. Daryani juxtaposes her landscape photographs with an album of private, family photographs taken at a time when water was still plentiful in the lake and the lake itself was a popular tourist destination. Daryani’s photographic exploration of this site over many years combines a documentary approach with her own personal involvement to create a haunting visual narrative.
Solmaz Daryani, born 1985, lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.