Underline’s second issue is about journeys, real and imagined. As with Issue #1, several of the stories reveal more of the rich cultural interactions between the UK and Iran historically. Such interactions are often achieved by that old method of learning: hitting the road.
The chosen theme for this issue also touches on the conditions of the magazine’s production. Many of the wonderful team who have made this issue happen are travellers; visitors or residents in another country, sharing their observations both in close-up and long shot.
The stories in close-up are focused on two British poets (Basil Bunting and Dylan Thomas) and an American art collector (Abby Weed Grey), each of whom were drawn fortuitously to Iran. Thomas’s journey remains a personal favourite: he sees both heaven and hell, leaving the country bruised, enlightened, shocked and awakened. No romanticism of ‘Persia’ here.
Filmmaker and writer Mark Cousins, who drove his campervan through Iran shortly after 9/11, provides us with one long shot. Some three decades before he set out on his journey, other campervans had crossed the country for a different reason: fulfilling the hippy dream of reaching those eastern destinations associated with self-discovery – and good hash. Rory MacLean has written a best-seller on the subject, Magic Bus, about which we’ve interviewed him.
The journeys also continue in our In Review pages where the recent, auspicious trip made by British sculptor Tony Cragg to exhibit his work in Tehran has given one of our contributors the opportunity for a first-hand encounter. Travelling in the opposite direction, the works of Iranian photographer Kaveh Golestan have reached Tate Modern, prompting another fascinating review.
In the current political climate, when visa labyrinths involved in travelling between the UK and Iran would exhaust even Odysseus, Underline’s second issue hopes to achieve what good films and books do: taking you to a place you’ve never been.