Longing for Nostalgia

by Paniz Mani

← Back to Showcase bachelor of fine arts, photography major

Fourth Year | Graduation year: 2024

My photographic series The Longing for Nostalgia investigates the profound trauma of immigration and exile, where individuals are uprooted from their country of origin.

Immigrants experience emotions such as mourning and nostalgia and use these emotions as a coping mechanism as they face the harsh realities of leaving their homeland. However, often, these emotions remain unspoken, leading to inner conflict and turmoil. Guilt for surviving while others suffered, coupled with a sense of helplessness and humiliation, becomes a heavy burden.

In this project, I seek to reconcile with my past, exploring the layers of nostalgia, loss, and cultural disconnection from my country of origin (Iran). I grapple with the weight of my choices and decisions that led to my arrival in Canada and while longingly looking back to a past forever out of reach.

Personal archival images from my past life in Iran are layered onto subdued contemporary landscapes captured in Canada. To discover the second layer, one must closely look through the opening, carefully cut out in the first layer, a gesture which emphasizes the struggle of longing, seeking and discovering.

I employ this artistic technique as a metaphor to convey the experience of disconnection from the past and the uncertainty regarding the present or future. The physical struggle to see, represents a fractured comprehension of a person in their overall understanding of their past and the new, unfamiliar present, while also exploring what can be made visible and what persists as invisible in photographs.

By utilizing old photographs from my archive as tangible objects, they become a kind of surrogate homeland for me, a way to hold onto a piece of the past brought into the present.


About the Artist

I am an Iranian artist based in Vancouver, focusing mainly on photography in my practice. My work is greatly influenced by my ethnic background and my immigration journey. My interests in psychology, sociology, and cultural studies also inform my artistic practice.

In most of my works, I aim to reflect on political and social changes around me. I find everyday interactions and people around me to be exciting subjects to explore and observe.

While my primary focus is on photography, I do not limit myself to one medium. In recent years, I have been specifically exploring the use of archival and found images, as well as other found materials. Additionally, I am venturing into other mediums and artistic expressions such as video art and installation art.

As a photographer, I am fascinated by the power of images and their accessibility for circulation worldwide. I explore the profound role of images in understanding our history and contemporary life.

I believe that art making is inherently political, and I strive to use my art as a form of political expression.

Emily Carr Students are eligible to submit their work for consideration in the Showcase.

Make a Submission

← Back to Showcase