17 December 2009 – 16 January 2010


HOST Gallery and Buta Art Centre are pleased to announce an exhibition of photographs by award-winning Azeri photographer Rena Effendi. Her first UK exhibition, Effendi’s new series of work, Pipe Dreams, explores the lives of people living along 1,700 km of pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. The result is a fascinating collection of images which reflect the harsh realities of life as well as moments of unexpected beauty amongst the bleak landscape. The exhibition is part of the Buta Festival of Azerbaijani Arts, on show in London until March 2010.

“A pipe dream is a fantastic hope that is regarded as being impossible to achieve. This exhibition is dedicated to the people of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, linked by the oil pipeline and their fading hopes for a better future.” – Rena Effendi

Born in 1977 in Baku, Azerbaijan, Rena Effendi’s first job, at the age of 19, was translator for the Azerbaijan International Oil Company, a consortium of some of the world’s largest oil producers. This gave her financial independence, as the oil industry was the most lucrative employer for educated youth in Baku.

After gaining an inside perspective, Effendi directed her gaze outward and began to take photographs in 2001, focusing on the oil industry’s effects on ordinary people’s lives. In 2006, she received a commercial assignment from BP to follow the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline segment in Azerbaijan. Her images resulted in a corporate calendar outlining the achievements of BP’s social responsibility programme. However, in the course of her assignment, Effendi was confronted with the reality that the majority of people had not benefited from the oil wealth flowing under their feet. This motivated her to conduct her
own independent investigation.

In her attempt to find out what was hidden behind the PR smiles of her calendar, Effendi undertook a photographic journey along the pipeline, collecting untold stories along the way.

Oil and gas pipelines are the modern-day arteries of our world, transporting precious hydrocarbons, the blood of our civilization. Even in the current financial crisis, the world’s economy continues to expand, demand for energy grows and the hungry fingers of oil companies reach further and deeper into the earth.

Pipe Dreams by Rena Effendi is available from the Foto8 bookshop.