an investigative photo documentary

Exclusive 17-page photo essay from our investigative journalist team in collaboration with award-winning photojournalist Arash Khamooshi. Location: Tehran, Iran, Islamic Republic of Copyright Wondereur 2018.

MEET with artist Babak Kazemi curated by star architect Leila Araghian.

Kazemi 1
Arkh2005
FOR PEOPLE IN IRAN, IT’S LIKE SOME KIND OF DREAM TO WORK FOR AN OIL COMPANY.
Arkh2038
All Iranian parents want their children to become engineers in the oil industry when they grow up.
Arkh2015
FOR ME, I NEVER WANTED OIL TO RULE MY LIFE.
Arkh2034
I grew up in a city called Ahvaz, just a few kilometres away from the first oil well discovered in the Middle East. My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather all worked in the oil refineries.
Arkh2025
The region is also just along the border with Iraq.
Arkh2021
AS KIDS, WE WOULD PLAY WITH BULLETS FOUND IN CITY WALLS. WE LIVED THROUGH 8 YEARS OF WAR.
Arkh1898
The war and oil have left an imprint on my work and my life. Even though I now live in Tehran, everything I do is somehow connected to these two things.
Arkh1869
WE’RE A RICH COUNTRY BUT, IF WE DIDN'T HAVE OIL, MAYBE WE WOULD BE A HAPPIER SOCIETY.
Arkh1713
Arkh1736
I started off as a painter. I would photograph things around me and make paintings based on that. My parents still have my first painting, inspired by a Russian painter named Ivan Shishkin.
Arkh1648
Photography took over when I stepped in a darkroom for the first time. All the chemistry and the magic of the image appearing on paper really captivated me.
Arkh1754
The series Past Continuous Tense was shot in 2009 - I was using cellphones and digital cameras at the time. In my recent work, I’ve returned to more traditional aspects of photography: working in a darkroom and making my own prints. It’s where I find the most inspiration.
Arkh1699
Right now, I’m working on old door plates I collected from houses that are being demolished. There are many stories to tell of people who left the country and never came back to their home.
Arkh2170
I WANT TO FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE REMAINED UNSEEN IN SOCIETY.
Arkh2224
A lot of people around the world have misconceptions about Iran. If you just watch the news, it’s hard to imagine what life is like or what love is like here. Some people leave the country - because they’re homosexual or they love each other but don’t want to get married. This year the emigration of girls has been much higher than the emigration of boys.
Arkh2269
MANY PEOPLE ALSO STAY AND FIGHT FOR WHAT THEY WANT.