Photography Articles

This text is the postscript of Nasrolah Kasraian in his book called "Doors & Windows". It includes also a number of his photos.

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Doors and Windows

Nasrollah Kasraian

Iran, 1999

I don’t know why “windows” in my mind have a more important place than “doors”. Maybe because one comes to know how to handle a door at once in a second, but with a window the relation continues. “Doors” are either open or closed, we either pass through them or not, we either enter a place or not, but if we do enter, then while we are there what we deal with are windows; perhaps because “doors” are like going a notary public office and marrying, but “windows” are like living: it does not take much time to say yes or make some say it, but the rest is the story of a life spending together; perhaps it is for this same reason that “doors” have more to do with hands and “windows” with eyes, the former have to do more, with touching and the later with seeing, I don’t know how much it will hurt me to be able to recognize coarseness from softness, but I do know that I can’t stand losing my sight; it seems that in my mind “doors” are more connected with hope and “windows” with liberty.

Lack of window for me is always associated with the jail and the lack of freedom. “Doors” is almost in the nature of the wall, it is a part of the opens, a part of the wall hinged at the part; people paint more on the door than on windows, perhaps to diminish its bitterness of being a wall; wall is being blocked, being closed, it is opaque, but people seldom paint on the window, most of the window is made of glass and glass is like the air and the air is like the freedom. The window, when it is a window, is transparent, it is easy to see through it, to see the tableau of reality, the sight of the city, a place, a mother who takes her daughter for a walk, a valley, a mountain, a river, a bus station and even a prison.

Rarely I have seen in choosing a hose or a flat people give attention to the door, they care more about the window, they want to know what is to be seen out of the window. One learns more through seeing than through anything else and it attracts me a lot of see that there is such a relationship between seeing and awareness and freedom. And it is a much interesting to see (i.e. to know) that the advocates of dark-mindedness have problem with seeing and gaining insight.

Architects could be divided in laic and religious, politicians to liberal and conservative, by the way they look at the windows; this is true about parents too. In a traditional society, your way of seeing the windows differs according to your having female children or male. The way a mayor of a city looks at the windows can be a reason for knocking him out. What you think about windows depend on your being the onlooker or the object of the look. I always enjoy viewing a place from a window, always it makes me happy to feel that the windows at my home are open to a sight providing the possibility to see lots of thing through them – though I have spent the great part of my life in houses that from their windows not much could be seen.

Doors could be a sigh of richness or poverty; “Door” could be frightening, respectful. Ali Qapu! But windows, at least as long their original function is concerned, have no pressure on us. Window’s means an aperture or a hole, open to the outside world. It is true that window’s big or smallness affects the quantity of the light and cold and warmth pass through it, but this does not produce much effect on seeing. Windows are more “democratic” than “doors”. Windows, at least from within, bring less to mind the class differences. A poor peasant also can possess a window that opens up to paradise of gardens and birds and skies. But never the “door” of a poor peasants’ hut can be similar, for example, to that of a middle age palace.

I don’t know where I can end it up, if I continue this free association about doors and windows. Many days and nights, I had time to write about doors and windows and I could not. Once I wrote something but I did not satisfy me. It was more a lamentation about being deprived most of my life from a proper window. I noticed that many people were in the same situation, and still they are. Seems that the problem this society, with this history and this culture, has with windows will continue to remains an open one.

However, this collection includes a number of doors and windows, and I’m not attempting here to give a historical account a particular kind of door or window, or of doors and windows belonging to a specific era or place; it is just about doors windows that deliver to us the sight of themselves, looking back at us looking them. That is all.