Rena Effendi: Pipe Dreams
June 21 - November 14, 2011
“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.
Pipe Dreams is the first exhibition in a Middle Eastern/Central Asia Series funded in part by a Curatorial Research grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation.
Exhibition funded by:
This project is supported in part by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Programming is supported in part by a grant from the City of Grand Forks through the North Valley Arts Council.