Rena Effendi’s journey along the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline

Talk December 11, 2009

Award-winning photographer Rena Effendi will be at the Frontline Club to talk about her new book Pipe Dreams – A chronicle of lives along the pipeline, that examines the transformation of Azerbaijan brought about by the oil industry.
Born in Azerbaijan, Rena Effendi was first commissioned to photograph the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline by energy company BP, which used her images in a corporate calendar outlining its social responsibility programme.
Confronted with the reality that the majority of people had not benefited from the oil wealth, Rena Effendi returned to the region to discover what lay behind the corporate image.
An opportunity to see the photographs Rena Effendi took during her independent journey along the 1,700 km oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and hear about the stories she collected along the way.
From a Soviet backwater Azerbaijan has become a fast-growing economy, with its capital Baku a focus of expat nightlife where once its citizens were under strict curfew.
Rena Effendi will Pipe Dreams contrasts images of Baku’s ever-changing sky-line, luxury apartments and glamorous residents, with those who, left out of the bonanza of oil dollars, are left to struggle against poverty.
From rotting industrial infrastructure to the plight of refugees from the conflict Nagorno Karabagh, Rena Effendi’s unflinching chronicle exposes a reality far removed from the gleaming image presented by the energy giants. But it also shows the joy and resilience of the people.

This event is in association with The Buta Festival of Azerbaijani Art, which takes place from 25 November until 7 March and is organised by BUTA Art Centre, a foundation dedicated to promoting Azeri culture to the wider world.

Rena Effendi has won several international photography awards including the “Fifty Crows” Documentary Photography award, Mario Giacomelli Memorial Fund award, and Getty Images Editorial grant. In 2007, she was chosen by the Photo District News magazine as one of 30 emerging photographers to watch and the following year won the National Geographic “All Roads” photography award.

Photograph:   Dumped TV in a courtyard. Mahalla, Baku. Azerbaijan. 2005
Pipe Dreams – A chronicle of lives along the pipeline
© 2009 Rena Effendi, Baku