By Nigar Orujova
Reza Deghati, a brave photographer who is known worldwide for his inspiring depiction of the globe’s unique places, will open his exhibition dedicated to Azerbaijan at the Petit Palais in Paris on November 28.
AzerNews spoke with Mr Deghati to learn about the exhibition entitled “Azerbaijan, The Elegance of Fire” and his future plans.
Question: What was the key drive inspiring you to launch this wonderful project?
Answer: The key inspiration for these two books was the fact that I am one of the few photographers in the world, maybe the only one, who has been witnessing Azerbaijan from 1987 when it was under the Soviet occupation, the fight of Azerbaijani people for independence, and the Black January, the war in Nagorno-Karabakh and the refugees came, and then the rebuilding of the modern and new Azerbaijan.
So for me, it is very important to show the process to the world. It is a nation that has been living under occupation for many years in the past but now it is a progressive nation doing welfare and taking care of itself.
Q.: What readers will find in your books?
A.: One book that is called “The Elegance of Fire” is showing the beauty of the Azerbaijani people, its beautiful landscape, culture and traditions saying that it is a really old nation. The second book which is titled “The Massacre of the Innocents” is connected with the Black January that I witnessed and the Nagorno-Karabakh war and massacre in Khojaly and the refugees.
These are two themes that I took to show Azerbaijan as a very beautiful country and reveal this fact that Azerbaijan is in the war, 20 percent of its lands are occupied and there have been massacres here. It is very important for me that the world knows these two chapters in the history of the country.
Q.: Could you tell us a little bit about objectives of the exhibition? Which works will you present at your “Azerbaijan, The Elegance of Fire” exhibition in Paris?
A.: I’ve not only prepared the books but also holding an exhibition in one of the best museums in Paris which is called Petit Palais, it is located near the Champs-Elysees, and it is one of the most prestigious places in France. There has never been a photo exhibition here before, because they never wanted to host such exhibitions but when they understood that I want to hold such exhibition, they agreed to have the first photo exhibition in its history.
In the exhibition, we are going to show the two books and the two aspects of Azerbaijan. Besides, a short film of 4 minute which I have made will be showed during the exhibition.
Q.: What is the key inspiration for your endless interest in Azerbaijan?
A.: The fact is that I myself was born in Iran, Tabriz. I know the language. I am Azerbaijani myself. Despite I am French citizen and living in Paris, my origin is Azerbaijani. But it is not the only reason. There is also a journalistic reason, as a journalist, I feel obliged to show to the world what I see and what I believe in. So, there are two reasons, one of them is that I am myself from Azerbaijan and the other one is that unfortunately, the western countries, Europe and America are not familiar with Azerbaijan. People do not know Azerbaijan and the very few things that they know about it are not very positive. They do not understand what is happening in Azerbaijan. As a journalist, it is my duty to show to the world the reality.
Q.: Could you please inform us about your future projects on Azerbaijan?
A.: First of all, I would like to continue writing my next book, which is called “Azerbaijan, the Land of Tolerance”, to show the world this aspect of Azerbaijan, and also to prepare more books to show the world other aspects of Azerbaijan. I would like to hold this exhibition in New York, London, Moscow, Istanbul, Brussels and the European Parliament, to show Azerbaijan, my photography and my books, to other people.
I also would like to open a school of communication and art in Baku to convey Azerbaijanis my experience in this field.