The winter light makes everything look a little grey and flat and with the salt that was intended for the roads now coating the cars and the hoardings that cover up the building work that’s going on ahead of the Eurovision song contest one could be forgiven for wondering where Azerbaijani Bakuvians have their fun as it isn’t immediately obvious.
However I’ve been doing my homework so I know that there is a rich vein of creativity here and you only have to look at the textiles and paintings to see a liking for strong colours. So I’ve enlisted a little help from a few locals …. script writer and film maker Gurban Bunyatov kindly took me to the Old City to enjoy several local delicacies including superb soup called Dushbara. Gurban handed the baton (that’s me) to Irada Quryanova who is an artist and runs Moon Art which gave me a chance to see her photography and jewellery and meanwhile Ulia Ali who runs View From Heels (what a great name for a fashion blog) is cooking up a few plans for later in the week.
We’ve been talking politics, the role of the creative and cultural industries, the pros and cons of an oil based economy and the disappearance of the middle classes. There seem to be parallels between how creatives in Baku and creatives in Beirut fund their emerging businesses … high levels of family support both fiscal and other being a key feature … but hey, this is only the beginning of my time here, my views may change as the week progresses!
Meanwhile I’ve bought myself a couple of local magazines … on the news stands there’s the second issue of a Conde Nast publication called Baku … lets see what this has to offer. I notice that Nadim Samman has been working with Azeri artists and by the looks of it there is a connection to both the Moscow and London contemporary art scenes!