“I have taken numerous photos of people peeling potatoes, doing their laundry, mowing their lawn and other daily chores. Wasn’t it time for me to enter the big bad world?” Thus, photographer and geographer Ad Nuis deciced to travel to Baku, Azerbaijan: since 2005 home of the world’s largest oil pipeline. Nuis’ Oil & Paradise ironically examines the newly acquired wealth of the former Soviet state.
Exactly one year before the project’s launch Azerbaijan, a country under strict dictatorship, organised the Eurovision Songfestival 2012. It turned out to be a unabashed display of new wealth in the country that also competed to get the football World Cup and the Olympics. Human rights are not on its agenda and only a fortunate group of people profits from the country’s exuberant wealth. However few people in the western world seem concerned about this. There is too much at stake to do so. As Nuis calls it: “It’s geopolitics on a Champions League level.”
Between 2008 and 2013 Nuis visited Baku ten times, each time for a period of about 25 days. With Oil & Paradise Nuis portrays the absurd contradictions between the lives of the nouveau riches in Baku and the ordinary citizens of Azerbaijan.
With a video installation where photographs, videos, telephone calls, TV and radio fragments are combined, Nuis offers a sharp view of one of the most rapidly growing economics and simultaneously most corrupt countries on the periphery of Europe. The artists’s personal approach and his humorous tone makes Oil & Paradise both highly relevant and very approachable.
The installation comprises a two-screen audiovisual installation (35 min.) as well as photos, artifacts, video material on monitors, texts and information material. Oil & Paradise was previously shown at the first Beijing Photo Biennale (2013) and at the Netherlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam (2014) amongst others.
The Oil & Paradise book is available as a Blurb print-on-demand book. Through the book, Nuis offers a sharp view of one of the most rapidly growing economics and simultaneously most corrupt countries on the periphery of Europe. And while the context of the recent tension between the global power blocks – Europe, Russia and the USA makes the Oil & Paradise a highly relevant project, the artists’s personal approach and his humorous tone make it a very approachable piece.
An iPad app and a print on demand publication are available at YdocStore. The app offers a preview of the book, as well as the opportunity to buy the digital book in its entirety.