Architectural Filth and the Heroic Passivism of Farhadi's Salesman

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Issue Vol. 4 No. 1 (2021)
Published Jan 29, 2021
Section Articles
Article downloads 556
Submitted : Oct 1, 2020 | Accepted : Dec 2, 2020

Vahid Vahdat


Architecture in Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman (2016) is not a mere passive backdrop to an otherwise unaffected narrative; it is an autonomous agent that takes part in the events that unfold, complicates the narrative, and even occasionally defies the ideological position of the film. By analysing interior spaces, architectural elements, urban infrastructure, and maintenance practices, I suggest that 1) the fluid visual boundaries of Farhadi’s spatial settings are instrumental in blurring the borders of truth and morality—themes that are central to his film; 2) the ontological study of architecture, from the moment of excavation to its ultimate fracture/failure serves as a pathological medium to study the troubled masculinity of contemporary Iranian society; 3) spatial infrastructure, as the materialised memory of the film’s determinism, prophetically hints at the inevitable tragedy that awaits. The architectural analysis of The Salesman empowers the audience with additional tools to reflect upon questions of masculinity and determinism. Architecture-as-a-reflection personifies the social filth that cannot be decontaminated through vain beautification strategies. Architecture-as-a-stage reflects the temporality of space and its incidental existence vis-à-vis the dominating presence of infrastructural facilities. Architecture-as-a-confinement embodies the oppressive nature of a society in which restriction, surveillance, and control are imposed upon its residents.

Keywords: architecture, film, cinema, Iran, masculinity

Article Details

How to Cite
Vahdat, V. (2021). Architectural Filth and the Heroic Passivism of Farhadi’s Salesman. Interiority, 4(1), 63–78.
Author Biography

Vahid Vahdat, Washington State University

Vahid Vahdat is an assistant professor of architecture and interior design at School of Design and Construction, Washington State University (WSU). His primary field of research is the theory of modern architecture, interior architecture, and urbanism, with an emphasis on non-Western experiences of modernity. His book, Occidentalist Perceptions of European Architecture in Nineteenth Century Persian Travel Diaries: Travels in Farangi Space, has been commended by reviewers for its “compelling and convincing interpretations […] grounded in archival and architectural evidence.” Prior to joining WSU, Vahid was a faculty at Texas A&M University and University of Houston. His teaching primarily involves explorations in architectural media, including virtual interiorities and filmic expressions of space.


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