The Eyes of Earth tells a deeply personal story about the environmental disaster at Lake Urmia as seen through the eyes of Solmaz Daryani, a self-taught photographer, who grew up on the lake.
Lake Urmia is located in the northwest of Iran. It was once the biggest salt lake in the Middle East and sixth biggest salt lake on earth situated between two neighbouring provinces (East-Azerbaijan and West-Azerbaijan) in Iran. Lake Urmia was home to many birds like ducks, pelicans, and flamingos. Ten years ago; the lake was still a popular destination for vacationers. Bathers immersed themselves in the saline water and smeared their bodies with its legendary black mud, which helped treat skin disease.
Photographer's grandfather ran a lakefront hotel in the tourist port of Sharafkhaneh and her uncles were sailors. She spent her childhood summers with her grandparents on the lake and, less than a decade ago, her grandfather hosted dozens of people every day. It was the disappearing lake and faded childhood memories that induce her to take the camera and start documenting what was left of the largest lake in the Middle East and the second largest salt lake on the planet.
During the past 20 years, approximately 80% of this lake dried due to climatic changes, excessive development in the agriculture sector, lack of correct water consumption management, and excessive dams constructed on the lake's basin river in this area. At the moment, hopes for the salt lake's survival have been revived after 2018 torrential rain has boosted a government program aimed at preserving it before it dries up.
"A lake is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." — Henry David Thoreau