Layli Rakhsha: A Long Letter to Home

Iranian-Australian artist Layli Rakhsha sent 100 envelopes to Tehran, Iran, asking strangers what home means to them. She received 82 responses.

A long letter to home represents Layli Rakhsha’s investigation on the idea of home, what home means in relation to a place, and how emotions and experiences distinguish home from homeland.

This project is based on a collaboration with Iranian people living in Iran.

In 2015, Rakhsha made 100 envelopes out of printed images of maps of Western Australia and Tehran. She left a small blank card in each envelope and sent them to her sister and brother in Tehran.

A long letter to home, Layli Rakhsha, 2015, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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A long letter to home, Layli Rakhsha, 2015, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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A long letter to home (2015) by Layli RakhshaMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

A long letter to home: Folding

A video made by artist Layli Rakhsha of herself, folding 100 envelopes for A long letter to home.

She asked them to distribute the envelopes to friends and acquaintances, and asked them to collaborate in the project by replying to two questions:

What do you imagine when you hear the word khaneh (home)?, and; what do you imagine when you hear the word vatan (homeland)?

Rakhsha received 82 responses. Here are a few selected responses to the questions.

A long letter to home (2015) by Layli Rakhsha and Unknown CollaboratorMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

Khaneh (home)

Detail of a note sent back from Tehran, Iran by an unknown collaborator for A long letter to home. The collaborator has written: "khaneh (home) is a location; it is a distance between my home where I live and the place where I work. Home means what I imagine in this trip."

A long letter to home (2015) by Layli Rakhsha and Unknown CollaboratorMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

"Home has meaning."

Detail of a note sent back from Tehran, Iran by an unknown collaborator for A long letter to home. The collaborator has written:

"Home is the most important place in the world.
Home can be everywhere.
Home has direction and locale.
It has meaning.
It has a wardrobe,
a refrigerator,
a bed,
a toilet,
and a shower."

A long letter to home (2015) by Layli Rakhsha and Unknown CollaboratorMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

"Khaab, maadar, aaftab, doost, aaraamesh, amniyat."

Detail of a note sent back from Tehran, Iran by an unknown collaborator for A long letter to home. Inside the rug, the collaborator has written: "khaab (sleep), maadar (mother), aaftab (sunshine), doost (friend), aaraamesh (peace) and amniyat (safety or security)."

A long letter to home (2015) by Layli Rakhsha and Unknown CollaboratorMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

Feel at home.

Detail of a note sent back from Tehran, Iran by an unknown collaborator for A long letter to home. The collaborator has written: "I have a small black library that I take with me when I must move from one house to another. I sit next to my small black library and read, write and edit films. Whenever I sit next to it, I feel at home."

A long letter to home (2015) by Layli Rakhsha and Unknown CollaboratorMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

"The sound of my father's sandals."

Detail of a note sent back from Tehran, Iran by an unknown collaborator for A long letter to home. The collaborator has written the words eshgh (love), Amniyyat (safety), booye gole yas (smell of Jasmine flower), sedaaye kafsh pedaram (the sound of my father’s sandals), noor (light) and sobhe zood (early in the morning). 

A long letter to home (2015) by Layli Rakhsha and Unknown CollaboratorMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

Protest for homeland.

Detail of a note sent back from Tehran, Iran by an unknown collaborator for A long letter to home. The collaborator refers to the protest about irregularities in the results between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the Iranian Presidential election in 2009. They write: “Homeland is the day when a silent protest against the election was taken from Imam Hossein Square to Azadi Square in Tehran.”. 

Rakhsha said some of her favourite responses were those not contained to the small blank card she'd provided. Some collaborators sent back "pieces" of home, symbols that answered Rakhsha's questions.

A long letter to home, Layli Rakhsha, Unknown Collaborator, 2015, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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Detail of a collage sent back from Tehran, Iran by an unknown collaborator for A long letter to home. The collaborator has written the Persian translation of the banner and circles the word home to speak of homeland.

A long letter to home, Layli Rakhsha, Unknown Collaborator, 2015, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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A long letter to home, Layli Rakhsha, Unknown Collaborator, 2015, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
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A long letter to home, Layli Rakhsha, Unknown Collaborator, 2015, From the collection of: Museum of Freedom and Tolerance
Show lessRead more

Left, middle: Used train tickets sent back by from Tehran, Iran by unknown collaborators living in Iran. Right: An unknown collaborator living in Iran sent back a Khar-mohreh. It is a blue-turquoise ceramic bead that has been used in ancient Iran for protection from bad luck.

A long letter to home (2015) by Layli Rakhsha and Unknown CollaboratorMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

A Fall-E-Hafez

Detail of a digital print sent back from Iran by an unknown collaborator for A long letter to home. The print has Persian poem A Fall-E- Hafez (the love poem of Hafez) printed on it. One can buy these from women or young pedlars in the streets or in the train station to seek their love fortune. 

A long letter to home (2015) by Layli Rakhsha and RouzbehMuseum of Freedom and Tolerance

Gold

Detail of A long letter to home, made with a collaborator living in Perth, Western Australia. "Gold" - Rouzbeh, 27 years old.

Credits: Story

Lead Artist: Layli Rakhsha

A long letter to home was made with unknown collaborators living in Iran.

Layli Rakhsha’s sister and brother, who distributed the 100 envelopes, both practice art in Tehran. Most of their friends who participated in this project came from academic and artistic backgrounds. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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