Dedicated to photographer Rena Effendi
By Lyubov Mir Javadova
Many many years ago, someone`s short warm breath touched the bridge of her nose, and now, some kind of force is pushing her to uncover the latent trace of things in the corridors of reality, breaking into her, sprinkling sparks in fleeting constellations, and then, with her head up high like a bird nest, she could feel its subtle temperature fluctuations on her skin...This is her facial expression when she points the camera lens, her stance is wide as if she`s wielding a halberd, while behind her, behind this thin figure, mathematical reason is writhing, whining in obedience, tangled up in her uneven footsteps.
Inspiration - how alien it is to those who comfort themselves with a quotidian constructed environment... hanging from the ceiling like smeared birds made of dough. They will swing back and forth on their threads, from age to age, glaring with unsympathetic eyes upon the poetry gleaned from the couch`s red upholstery.
Her long straight legs, like those of a compass, mete out the kilometers in pursuit of THE SHOT, hidden between the cliffs and the gnarled trees, amidst the intersection of shadows, shadows covering her unpretentious dress with chaotic griffonage... To not let the scattered surface glares fade, to snatch the dimming ambers of life from the ruins that even the devil forgot, don`t pour these drunken ramblers any more of that, that mere substitute for understanding, and do not give those tearful shots to passers-by, but cultivate the awareness of your environment, where the folds of solidified lava resemble human bodies and the dry riverbeds across the valley look like palmistry... where the planet`s cataclysms and human tragedies come together.
The artist`s vigilance adapts, ponders, accumulates, identifies the dominant, determines the theme still distant from the camera... Some draw, make movies, poeticize, compose a cavatina, deduce a theorem, for they have time - time the photographer does not have, whose brain has thousands of versions of the shot, only one of which identifies itself with the present moment, when the siege of sunlight is still held, before the dissolution into vespertine silence. Then her enormous blotter-black eyes imbibe the sense, and only by following the rumbling chords of her heart does the photographer gather into her lens that which accords with the greater scheme.
Moving along the great subterranean fault-lines and feeling the tectonics of the crust`s plates with her sensitive toes, she understands that people are lost in the darkness of their ignorance, and the attempt itself to break out of the material prison can just give birth to another ritual. Pain, fear, hopelessness... Here and now it happens again, what happens yesterday and repeats tomorrow, but sometimes it swerves without reason towards a remote cave, where the best of the best attempt again and again to make their bed among her guests that swarm over a pile of worn-out, vaguely shimmering objects, anxiously brushing the mold off an non-equilateral polygon.
She sits down next to a dreaming toucan, spreading among her guests the pieces of medical bondages marked with the imprints of their patients, and lends her face to the projection of these shots - a lost building in a steel metal trap; a dancing bride without a face - a spindle draped in cloudy dress. A blurry square - a space to be used for the preparation of food, or laundry, or ablution of the dead...
A greedy hand grabbing the flesh of a thigh, a childbirth, a mask... who`s really on the defense, that stray dog? Hope, in whose name the crowd drags its bedraggled victims from century to century; asphalt with bloody writing; a large unfeeling knife that keeps on changing hands, the hunted, the hunter... An endless shame on all of human history... The photographer inquires, inquires into the greater scheme, ripping back the pleasing layer of lawn to reveal the weeping
clay, darkness, and aggressive roots... And she wraps all this up in blind film, without self-deception, illusion, or anger at the indifference of space, where she finds her own personal gradient.
At a high level of mastery you find the victorious variation. You control the arena, but on the highest peaks existence itself lies in wait for the muscular contraction over the cheekbones; and that distant ally will be the first witness to the moment when you discover how to build, instantly deducing from the trompe l`oeil the fluidity of the temporal, into which you dip the untouched white sheet, for the benefit of that tree whose crown - our brain, whose trunk - our backbone... For the benefit of the aspiration that allows us to think, feel, and make a choice.Pain beckoned her into the pit of darkness, so that in infernal isolation, from the killing emptiness, she may pull out the contours of a round shoulder, disturbing silhouettes, bundles of glass fibers,some kind of needly images resembling rabid insects. The pain had various histories - monstrous, ridiculous, and even comic, so that putting down the camera beside her, she would also listen, listen to the earth torn asunder into scraps of human commotion, where LIFE wastes away, HUMAN ASCENT, chewing the chuckle of an agile mind, the DIVINE SPARK trampled by clumsy amphibians apathetically crawling to the shore where a bitten monkey howled...
If it was only possible to imagine the glass-eyed body of the camera as a musical instrument, to feel and hold it thus, it would become one, playing through the themes of the endless battle between Light and Shadow, battles branding the skin with stigmata and foreheads with seals... She listened and listened, wrapping herself in strips of voices while snapping, snapping, as if giving out a spiccato... Occasionally from beneath the arcs over her brow darted dotted lines of mental connections to the one of whom they spoke ill, the one who appeared uninvited from beyond the turnip stalks, the one most unkind vagabond woman in sage colored boots... Specifically in one of these moments, when the photographer aimlessly wandered among the graves, at 2:05pm 06/07/07 when the sounds seemed to swallow one another, invisible gardeners planted an aquamarine bush, and suddenly in front of her appeared the tombstone of Pazolini...
Rena Effendi, born 1977 in Baku, has been active as a photographer since 2001 and from the outset, her interest has been social documentary photography. Her work focuses on themes of urbanization, post-conflict societies, and the oil industry effects on people`s lives. In 2004, Effendi was a winner of the Fifty Crows International Fund for Documentary Photography competition. In 2005 she was selected to participate in the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass and recieved honourable mention in National Geographic All Roads photography competition. In 2006 Effendi was a winner of the Getty Images Editorial Photography Grant and Mario Giacomelli Memorial Fund award. In 2007, Effendi was chosen by the Photo District News magazine as one of 30 emerging photographers to watch. The same year, Effendi was selected as a finalist for the Magnum Photos Inge Morath award.
Effendi`s work was exhibited in Azerbaijan, Greece, France, Norway, Germany, Italy, Holland and Russia. In 2006, her work was selected for personal exhibitions at the 18th Visa Pour L`image Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, France and at the Les Imagiques Festival of Photography in Bordeaux, France. In 2007, Effendi exhibited in the Venice Biennale.
Rena Effendi is a member of a Moscow-based Agency.Photographer.RU and is represented by Grazia Neri in Italy. Her work has been published in Newsweek, International Herald Tribune, Le Monde, Liberation, Le Figaro, Courrier International, and Ogoniok.