A Small Voice: Conversations With Photographers

055 - Rena Effendi

Episode Summary

Rena Effendi is an Azerbaijani photographer, born in the capital, Baku, whose work focuses on issues of post-conflict society, social justice, and the oil industry’s effect on people and the environment. Rena, as she puts it herself, spent half her childhood in one country and the rest in another, growing up during the war, political instability, and economic collapse that marked Azerbaijan's path to post-Soviet independence. From 2002 to 2008, Rena followed a 1,700-kilometer oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey collecting stories along the way and documenting the impact this multibillion-dollar project had on impoverished farmers, fishermen, and other ordinary citizens. This six-year journey became her first book Pipe Dreams: A Chronicle of Lives Along the Pipeline, published in 2009. The project received numerous awards, including a Getty Images Editorial Grant, a Fifty Crows International Fund Award, a Magnum Foundation Caucasus Photographer Award, and a Mario Giacomelli Memorial Fund Award. In 2012, Rena published her second monograph Liquid Land. The book presents a lyrical narrative, exploring themes of fragility and environmental decay, in which her images of communities living dangerously among the oil spills and industrial ruin of Baku and the rest of the Absheron Peninsula are paired with photographs of some of the 30,000 moths and butterflies collected from across the the Soviet Union by her father, Rustam Effendi, a dissident scientist and entomologist who devoted his life to lepidopterology - the study of these beautiful insects. Over the past 10 years, Rena has covered stories across the post-Soviet region, as well as in Turkey and Iran, including the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict, female victims of heroin and sex trafficking in Kyrgyzstan, and the hidden lives of youth in Tehran. In 2011, she received the Prince Claus Fund Award for Cultural Development and in 2012, Rena was short-listed for the Prix-Pictet Global Award for Photography and Sustainability, for her series documenting life of the survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and in 2014 won 2nd and 3rd places in Observed Portrait Stories and Observed Potrait Singles categories of the World Press Photo Contest. Rena's work has featured in publications such as the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek, The Financial Times, Time Magazine, and National Geographic. She is represented by National Geographic Creative and ILEX Gallery and is currently based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Episode Notes

Rena Effendi is an Azerbaijani photographer, born in the capital, Baku, whose work focuses on issues of post-conflict society, social justice, and the oil industry’s effect on people and the environment. Rena, as she puts it herself, spent half her childhood in one country and the rest in another, growing up during the war, political instability, and economic collapse that marked Azerbaijan's path to post-Soviet independence. From 2002 to 2008, Rena followed a 1,700-kilometer oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey collecting stories along the way and documenting the impact this multibillion-dollar project had on impoverished farmers, fishermen, and other ordinary citizens. This six-year journey became her first book Pipe Dreams: A Chronicle of Lives Along the Pipeline, published in 2009. The project received numerous awards, including a Getty Images Editorial Grant, a Fifty Crows International Fund Award, a Magnum Foundation Caucasus Photographer Award, and a Mario Giacomelli Memorial Fund Award.  In 2012, Rena published her second monograph Liquid Land. The book presents a lyrical narrative, exploring themes of fragility and environmental decay, in which her images of communities living dangerously among the oil spills and industrial ruin of Baku and the rest of the Absheron Peninsula are paired with photographs of some of the 30,000 moths and butterflies collected from across the the Soviet Union by her father, Rustam Effendi, a dissident scientist and entomologist who devoted his life to lepidopterology - the study of these beautiful insects.  Over the past 10 years, Rena has covered stories across the post-Soviet region, as well as in Turkey and Iran, including the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict, female victims of heroin and sex trafficking in Kyrgyzstan, and the hidden lives of youth in Tehran. In 2011, she received the Prince Claus Fund Award for Cultural Development and in 2012, Rena was short-listed for the Prix-Pictet Global Award for Photography and Sustainability, for her series documenting life of the survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and in 2014 won 2nd and 3rd places in Observed Portrait Stories and Observed Potrait Singles categories of the World Press Photo Contest. Rena's work has featured in publications such as the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek, The Financial Times, Time Magazine, and National Geographic. She is represented by National Geographic Creative and ILEX Gallery and is currently based in Istanbul, Turkey.