Emerging Border Conditions in Eurasia
MSc3/4 Graduation studio
2020 / 2021
NEGAR SANAAN BENSI
Khorasan, the western portion of which is today’s Northeastern Iran is centered on Mashhad, the Islamic Republic’s second most populous city. Shaped by water and religion, an oasis village on the ancient silk road became the center of Twelver Shia Islam, around the shrine of Imam Reza, where the 8thimam is buried. The city in the Kashaf River valley between two mountain ranges is a gateway to Central Asia and continuing its steady population growth after a post-revolutionary population boom. The shrine’s administrative apparatus Astan Quds Razavi acts as a religious micro-state, influencing the spatial, cultural, social, political and economic [trans]formation of the city and the territory, resulting in an intriguing patchwork of spatial interventions, infrastructural projects, and political and ideological tensions. How easy it would be to reduce the city to its shiny center, the destination of an endless stream of pilgrims. The maps seek to go beyond the glare of holiness and ritual: the holy shrine and its sacred territory. To see the city and the landscape beyond the center and attempting alternative readings that uncover the various forces that seem to radically reshape the ground – time and time again, not unlike the tide of tourists, sorry pilgrims, entering and exiting the shrine compound – in a state of perpetual unfinishedness and constant transformation, where nothing, not even the shrine itself, is sacred.