Hungary through the eyes of Azerbaijani photographer [INTERVIEW]
By Laman Ismayilova
With many breathtaking and incredible historical sites, Hungary never ceases to enchant history buffs, Azernews reports.
Being one of the oldest countries in Europe, Hungary is also a favorite destination for photography enthusiasts.
As someone who is passionate about travel and photography, Aydin Sadikhov couldn't resist capturing these beautiful sights.
In his interview with Azernews, Aydin Sadikhov shared the story behind his boundless love for Hungary.
Q: What makes Hungary attractive for you as a photographer?
A: In addition to being a professional photographer, I am also an avid traveler. While traveling to other countries, I always try to see more than one city. In my opinion, if you want to learn more about a country's culture and history, you should visit as many cities as possible. It has long been my wish to visit Hungary and get acquainted with this amazingly beautiful country.
Looking at photographs of such architectural masterpieces as the building of the Hungarian Parliament, reading in the British Telegraph that the St Matthias Church in Budapest is listed among the 23 most beautiful churches in the world, and also receiving the souvenir "Fisherman's Bastion", I promised myself to see all these beautiful sights with my own eyes and capture them on my camera.
My first acquaintance with Hungary, or rather with its capital, Budapest, was in 2018. During that same trip, I visited three European capitals. In one of them, my first personal foreign photo exhibition was to take place. Budapest surprised and delighted me with its incredible architecture and museums. At that moment, I realized that I would return here again and again.
I was surprised that I did not see photos and stories about other cities in Hungary. This made me learn more about Hungarian cities. I wanted to see all the beauty and sights of this country. Finally, after several visits to Hungary, I have collected a rather interesting and impressive series of photos that were later presented in Azerbaijan.
Each Hungarian city, whether large or small, is very beautiful and unique in its own way with a large number of interesting places. Here you can find majestic fortresses, beautiful churches, palaces, and mesmerizing urban and natural landscapes. Each city has its own legends, and when you hear about them, you immediately want to visit those places.
With each new visit to Hungary, I got acquainted and collected unique photographs that capture ancient castles, and the centuries-old architectural monuments in different cities which included castles, palaces, and unique architectural monuments. This helped me create a series of photo projects about Hungary,
I would like to thank the Hungarian Embassy in Azerbaijan for supporting and organizing interesting photo projects and exhibitions.
Q: In April, your photo works were exhibited at the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts within the "Parallel Worlds" project. Could you share the details with us?
A: "Parallel Worlds" is an absolutely stunning project which involves different areas of culture including photography, theater, music, dance as well as ancient legends. Since childhood, I have been very curious about the myths and history of different countries. My interest and love for ancient myths and legends have always found a special place in my photos. At my personal exhibition, I always share the myths and legends behind the photographs.
I have been planning to create a unique cultural project for a long time, where I could show and tell in detail about the ancient legends, myths, and folklore of different countries. Therefore, the project "Parallel Worlds" has been successfully implemented in Baku. The project was initiated in partnership with the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts at the end of 2019.
However, this project was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic. Finally, it was presented to the public in April 2022. The first event of this project included a series of interesting seminars with presentations on the subject of legends (one of which was mine), as well as my personal photo exhibition. Since this year we are celebrating the 30th diplomatic relations with a large number of countries, it was decided to dedicate each event within the framework of the project to a separate country.
After the return of this project this year, we dedicated the first event to Hungary. The Counselor for Education and Culture of the Hungarian Embassy in Azerbaijan, Mihaly Gruber, delivered a lecture on "Legends of Hungary". At the same time, I successfully presented my personal photo exhibition, consisting of twenty photographs captured in Hungary. The exhibition showcased famous architectural masterpieces and sights of Hungarian cities: Budapest, Esztergom, Vysehrad, Eger, Miskolc, Szeged, Gyor and Sopron.
Each photograph for this exhibition was not chosen by chance as it is associated with famous urban and mystical legends. Among them is the Castle of Diosgyor where according to legends, the elixir of beauty and youth was made and hidden; the Anonymous Statue dedicated to the unknown chronicler, who wrote "Gesta Hungarorum" (The Deeds of the Hungarians), the fortress walls of the ancient city Scarbantia; the House Apatur, which is one of the most beautiful and mysterious houses in the city of Gyor and many other sights. The university also organized an exhibition of tapestries and a concert. The audience also enjoyed Hungarian poetry as part of the event.
Q: If we look back, it is impossible not to mention your personal exhibition "Hungary through the eyes of an Azerbaijani photographer" held in Baku (2018). Please, tell our readers about this project.
A: My first personal photo exhibition about Hungary was organized by the Hungarian Embassy in Azerbaijan in 2018. October 23 is a very important date in the history of Hungary. This is the National Day of Hungary, which is celebrated every year. The Hungarian Embassy in Azerbaijan organized this photo exhibition on the occasion of the date. The opening of the exhibition took place at the Intourist Hotel as part of the celebration of the National Day of Hungary. This exhibition summed up my first two trips to Hungary. At this exhibition, I showcased five amazingly beautiful cities in Hungary, including Budapest, Eger, Esztergom, Gyor, and Miskolc.
Through photography, one of the languages of culture, I invited visitors to the exhibition to plunge into the history of Hungary, get acquainted with historical sights, visit majestic castles, see beautiful architectural structures, and mysterious monuments, and even learn a number of interesting legends. The exhibition was attended by diplomatic missions of foreign countries. The presented works made an impression on all visitors, who studied the exposition with great interest. For this exhibition, I chose a rather interesting and unusual approach that I had not used before. I did not limit myself to just one genre of photography but showed the country using various photo genres. Thus, exhibition visitors were able to get to know Hungary and its sights through travel, architectural, street and landscape photography.
A number of photographic works presented at the exhibition aroused special admiration of visitors and guests of the exhibition. First of all, this is certainly an original view of the image of the building of the legendary Hungarian Parliament.
This is the Ister Fountain, amazing in its beauty and transmitting an incredible mystical aura, located in the city of Esztergom. I’ll tell you an interesting fact, from whichever side you shoot the fountain, it comes out as a work of art, since, in fact, it is. The fountain depicts five female figures in a marine theme.
The author of this masterpiece is Peter Parkani Raab. Each figure is different from the other, as the author of this work used various models when creating the fountain. And the fountain got its name in accordance with one of the ancient names of the Danube River. The city of Esztergom was also represented by another very important historical building located on the castle hill - the main Basilica of the city of Esztergom.
This Basilica is the largest in Hungary. The building of the Basilica, both outside and inside, is a masterpiece of architecture in Hungary. This is the legendary Hungarian castle Diosgyor, consisting of four high towers, which was completed in the 14th century by King Lajos the Great, who made it his favorite residence. One of the most interesting legends about this castle says that it was here that the Elixir of Youth and Beauty was developed. The elixir was developed according to a special secret recipe for Queen Elizabeth and it is only known that rosemary was part of the mysterious drink. Very often this castle is called the "castle of the queens", as it passed from hand to hand to six queens. Therefore, if you like it or not, you begin to think about the efficiency of this mysterious elixir. This is the city of Eger and its legendary fortress, which is associated with the name of the brave captain - Istvan Dobo, and the legend of the appearance of the drink Bull's Blood.
I would like to additionally note that in 2019, during the celebration of the National Day of Hungary at the Dynamo Hotel in Baku, I also presented an interesting photo project "Hungarian monuments". In this project, I mainly focused on Hungarian historical sights.
Q: What can you say about your photo exhibition dedicated to Azerbaijan held at BUD Gallery in Budapest in 2019).
A: The idea to present the beauties of my country within the framework of a separate, large photo project was born quite a long time ago. At first, I presented individual photographs of our attractions within group exhibitions, international photo contests, as well as at my personal photo exhibition about Baku, held in Greece.
So, I promised myself that I would definitely present a new photo project about my country in a wider format, thereby showing the history and the beauty of other parts of Azerbaijan. In 2019, the photo project "Azerbaijan" was presented in Hungary. The venue for this exhibition was the new and very popular BUD gallery in Hungary, which is located at the Ferenc International Airport Liszt in Budapest.
The gallery hall, where the photographs were presented, was conveniently located between the two terminals, thereby allowing a huge number of passengers to see the exhibition.
Considering that the Budapest International Airport annually receives more than 15 million passengers from around the world, there is simply no better platform for exploring Azerbaijani sights at the international level.
The exposition was presented in this gallery for a whole month. The exposition includes twenty-two photographs showing the rich historical, cultural, and natural wonders of Azerbaijan such as ancient and modern architecture of Baku, palace and temples in the Agat Mountains" and much more.
In 2021, a personal photo exhibition "Treasures of Hungary" was opened at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport on the initiative of the Hungarian Embassy in Azerbaijan in cooperation with the Azerbaijani Airlines (AZAL).
The opening of this exhibition was timed to coincide with the celebration of the National Day of Hungary, as well as the resumption of direct flights between Baku and Budapest, which were temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.
Q: In 2020, you were awarded the Order of the Hungarian Bronze Cross for strengthening the cultural ties between Azerbaijan and Hungary. How can you comment on this?
A: The resolution on the decoration was signed by Hungarian President Janos Ader. I feel a great sense of pride. Each received and well-deserved award for any photographer, the figure of culture, and art is of great importance, both in terms of professional career, and in general, throughout life.
Creating all my cultural projects and exhibitions, I always try to make them as informative as possible, and therefore interesting for the viewer. Through the art of photography, I try to acquaint the viewer with the most interesting world of culture and history of the country.
Hungary is one of the most interesting and amazingly beautiful
countries in Europe with a rich cultural heritage.
Hungary has a large number of ancient castles and fortresses with mysterious legends, beautiful natural places, reserves, and, of course, many interesting centuries-old customs.
Over the past four years, I have managed to implement a number of interesting photo exhibitions and cultural projects in Baku and Budapest, during which I introduced the citizens of our country to the history, architecture, and culture of Hungary, and the citizens of Hungary to the history, architecture, and culture of my country.
Thus, I hope that I have managed to make my small contribution to the development of cultural relations between Azerbaijan and Hungary.
Q: What about your photo project about Hungarian Railways (2019)?
A: In 2019, the building of the Central Railway Station hosted my large-scale exhibition "Kalman Kando - 150: Hungarian Railways" co-organized by the Hungarian Embassy and the Azerbaijan Railways.
The exposition provided insight into the history and development of railway transport in Hungary. The exhibition featured the famous architectural buildings of the Hungarian railway stations, and photographs of unique historical models of steam locomotives, railway equipment, and electric locomotives took center stage. It was no coincidence that the exhibition was held in 2019 since this year was the anniversary of the history of the Hungarian Railway. The number 150 in the name of the project meant the fact that 150 years ago, a famous Hungarian engineer, electrical scientist, and pioneer in the development of electric traction was born in the city of Pest.
In 1894, Cando Kalman developed a high-voltage three-phase motor and alternator for an electric locomotive, thus becoming known as "the father of electric trains". The inventions of the Hungarian engineer played a huge role in the electrification of the railways in Hungary, Italy, France, England, and other European countries.
Q: What projects should be expected in the future?
A: The year 2022 turned out to be very active for me and at the same time successful in terms of completed projects and exhibitions. Among them, it is worth noting a series of events and exhibitions of the “Parallel Worlds” project, a personal photo exhibition "Legends of Hungary" and a group exhibition "Bridges of Europe" held within FANTAZEU Festival.
In June, my personal exhibition "V4" was organized at the ADA University, where I spoke not only as a photographer but also as the creator and curator of the project.
The exhibition displayed historical sights of the countries of the Visegrad Four (Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia). This project was organized by the Hungarian Embassy in Azerbaijan during the Hungarian presidency of the Visegrad Four.
At the exhibition, I presented photographs of Budapest and Prague, while Jamshid Mustafayev showcased photographs of Krakow and Emil Gazi-Bratislava. These photo works will be also shown at other venues in Baku.
For the next year, I have planned the implementation of many original and very interesting projects related to architecture, history, culture, and cultural traditions of different countries. I am also planning to publish my photo books next year.
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Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lamiva993