WAITING for WINTER | Rena Effendi | 15 Sept - 30 Oct 2015

WAITING for WINTER | Rena Effendi | 15 Sept - 30 Oct 2015


Rena Effendi

curated by Anna Arutiunova


Opening, Tuesday 15 September 2015, 7 p.m.

15 September - 30 October, 2015


ILEX Gallery @ 10b Photography Gallery



I saw a woman sitting on the porch of her house. So I asked her "What are you doing?" to which she responded: Nothing, just waiting for winter".

Rena Effendi

ILEX Gallery is pleased to present new work by acclaimed photographer Rena Effendi. The exhibition Waiting for Winter, brings together works from three photographic series that brought Rena Effendi many awards – Built on Grass (2014), Chernobyl: Still Life in the Zone (2010) and Khainaliq Village (2006). All three radiate with admiration for the slow village life, but at the same time disrupt its peaceful image, bringing attention to traces of toil, unfavourable environment and daily life hardships.

Rena Effendi is known for her keen observation of people’s intimate connection to their homes and to spaces that link them to their history and traditions. Mostly focusing on places where this fragile bond is on the verge of breaking up. Her photographs, both peaceful and awakening, work as reminders of continuing clash between modernity and tradition.

Each series unveils a compromise between a strong attachment to one’s homeland and the difficulties of maintaining the familiar way of life. Seen here in its international debut, in Built on Grass we see an almost pastoral village set amongst the bucolic landscapes of Romania. Men and women labour their land of precious hay meadows in an almost medieval way, by hand, preferring horse to tractor. Very much like in the Khainaliq Village in Azerbaijan, where a small community of sheep-breeders live among spectacular mountains. The mountains are not only beautiful, but also hardly reachable so people have to go without running water and gas. In the Ukrainian Chernobyl area, many villages have been encompassed into the exclusion zone, but the inhabitants refused to leave. Here the seeming calm of the village in Chernobyl: Still Life in the Zone has become a deadly silence of nature, which slowly reclaims the territories spoiled by men and revenge and produces a harvest of poisoned vegetation.

Notwithstanding the seamy side of village life, all three series are pervaded with tranquility. It is in part the merit of Rena Effendi’s painterly use of light, which gives the photographs the look of canvases from the Dutch old masters. The sunlight that floods the interiors of Vermeer’s paintings and casts a face with a golden glow or Brueghel’s mildly lit landscapes with peasants working in the fields seem to be as much of an inspiration for Rena Effendi as real life.


Rena Effendi

Born in 1977 in Baku, Azerbaijan, Rena Effendi grew up in the USSR. Educated as a linguist, she took her first photographs in 2001 after attending private painting classes. Rena Effendi's early work focused on the oil industry's effects on people's lives in her country. As a result, she followed a 1,700 km oil pipeline through Georgia and Turkey, collecting stories along the way. This work of six years was published in 2009 in her first book, Pipe Dreams: A Chronicle of Lives along the Pipeline. In 2013, Effendi published her second monograph Liquid Land, a lyrical narrative, where her images are paired with her father's photographs of perished and devastated post-industrial landscapes in her native Baku.

Effendi has won several international photography awards. In 2011 Rena Effendi became the laureate of the Prince Claus Fund award for Culture and Development (The Netherlands) and in 2012 she was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet award in photography and sustainability for the series Chernobyl: Still Life in the Zone and in the same year won a SONY World Photography Award in the Fine Art category. In 2014, Rena Effendi won two awards in the World Press Photo Observed Portraits categories.

Her work has been exhibited worldwide including at the 52nd Venice Biennale, the 2009 Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Saatchi Gallery in London, Breda Museum in the Netherlands and other venues.



Waiting for Winter

ILEX Gallery @ 10b Photography Gallery, Roma, Italia
Via San Lorenzo da Brindisi 10b
Opening hours:
Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri 8.30 - 12.30 | Wed, Sat and Sun closed

For more information:
Email: info@ilexphoto.com
Phone: 06 7030 6913