In 2018 design collective Atlas Studio spent time in Teheran with the support of Association FOCUS. Their time in Iran was a busy period, meeting local designers and cultural producers, travelling around the dense and congested city and thus spending long periods on the move. Trying to piece together a project from their experience, they realised how far they remained from gaining an understanding of Iranian culture, and how absurd this very idea was. Lonely Planets presents numerous visual impressions from their trip with an accompanying textual soundtrack from an English language course one taxi driver played while transporting them. The images underline how they remained, literally, on the outside of the city, outside closed doors and further insulated within a car. Meanwhile the fragmentary text indicates the frustration of conversations that might lead to nascent understanding, but that must necessarily start in the most rudimentary language. The photographs are bookended by a text by Atlas Studio, one by Azadeh Zaferani of Platform 28, a cultural space in Teheran, and a third by Shakyla Hussain, Director of Association FOCUS. Zaferani and Hussain speak from their particular perspectives of the possibilities residencies might offer, and their limitations. Atlas Studio, meanwhile, share a few realisations garnered during their trip; the random nature of these insights clarifies how far they were from ‘knowing’ Iran, remaining lonely planets in a separate orbit.
Martin Andereggen, Claudio Gasser and Jonas Wandeler live and work in Zurich. The trio all studied graphic design at the ZHdK, Zurich University of the Arts, where they also teamed up in 2012 to run Atlas Studio.