First Place

Drama of Block 65

Karim Mottaghi

Mamaat Art Collective

Sanctions, domestic and foreign political tensions have made the Iranian government less focused on controlling the Coronavirus pandemic. Due to the failure to take timely preventive measures by the responsible institutions and organizations, the prevalence of ‘Coronavirus’ became more serious in Iran, since March. Coronavirus continuously takes victims in all provinces and cities of the country. Dealing with the funeral and burial rites of the victims of this event varies according to the common traditions and cultures in each region. In the common culture of Azarbaijan province, people pay more attention to the performance of funeral and burial rites and participate in it extensively. Given the risk of a rapid outbreak of the Coronavirus, the burial rites of the victims, unlike this common culture, are performed even without the presence of victims’ relatives or usually with the presence of a small number of them. The funeral of the victims of the ‘Coronavirus’ is very unaccompanied and dramatic. I closely observed the stages of bathing, shrouding, funeral and burial rites, also participated in it directly and photographed – or worked with the cemetery staff – there for at least 48 days, from April 7 to December 24, 2020. However, for various reasons, when photography was not possible, I made video images. In Vadi-Rahmat Cemetery, the largest cemetery in north-western Iran, no specific section has been set aside for the burial of the victims of the ‘Coronavirus’, and families are free to determine the location of the burial. ‘Block 65’ is busier than other parts of the cemetery, and most of the victims are buried there. Because the most ‘Coronavirus’ victims are from the low-income and middle classes, the ‘Block 65’ of the cemetery is becoming more and more crowded and expanded. ‘Block 65’ is farther and cheaper than other parts of the cemetery, and the most dramatic part of Corona's story takes place there.

Born in 1966, Karim Mottaghi is from Tabriz, Iran. MFA degree in photography. University lecturer. Translator of the books: Beauty in Photography (Robert Adams), Kafka and Photography (Carolin Duttlinger), Tete A Tete (Henri Cartier-Bresson), Beauty in Photography (Robert Adams), Photo speak (Gilles Mora), The Visual Dictionary of Photography (David Prakel), Understanding a Photograph (John Berger), The Minimalist Photographer (Steve Johnso), A World History of Photography (Naomi Rosenblum) and Compiler of a pictorial book (the Lake Urmia): BiAban – Secretary of the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eights National and International Festival of Firoozeh Tabriz. He is a member of Mamaat Art Collective.

[ COVID PICTURE STORY ] A multiple-picture story, essay, sequence or series based on daily coverage of general news or breaking news related to COVID-19. Each submission consists of 5 to 10 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 5 submissions. The images must be taken in 2019 or 2020.

Judges for Covid Picture Story
Abir Abdullah
Nariman El Mofty
Bryan van der Beek
Shiho Fukada
Wonsuk Choi