REVIEW: Azerbaijani photo exhibition

>>A new exhibition highlights the plight of refugees in Azerbaijan

BRADFORD/England – As gritty as ever, Azerbaijani photographer Reni Effendi uses a series of photos on three different subjects to highlight the fragility of life on the fringes.

The “Liquid Land: Legacies of oil and power” exhibition at the Impressions Gallery in Bradford, northern England, starts with portraits of elderly women eking out life in their radiation-stained homes near the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine. A nuclear reactor at the plant exploded on April 26 1986 throwing radiation over the surrounding countryside.

But this is just the warm-up, for you feel the point that Ms Effendi really wants to make is about her native country, Azerbaijan.

The second half of the exhibition displays portraits of refugees in Azerbaijan. Children pose as they go to school, a man relaxes in the bath. They are ordinary poses of a marginalised people struggling through everyday life.

Dotted between the portraits of the refugees are photographs taken from her father’s old collection of pictures of butterflies. Ms Effendi chose photographs of butterflies which are either on the brink of extinction or have been killed off altogether.

More insight into the refugees and their plight would have helped the social commentary, but the symbolism is powerful and does work.

“Liquid Lands: Legacies of oil and power” at Impressions Gallery, Bradford. April 26 – June 22.


This story was taken from issue 138 of the Conway Bulletin, an independent newssheet covering Central Asia & the South Caucasus. Click here to subscribe

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