Azerbaijan, Baku, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline, Chicago, Czech Republic, Energy, France, Hungary, Illinois, Obama, United States

Bienvenue a Perpignan! / Bienvengut a Perpinya! / Welcome to Perpignan!

They all say the same thing, the first in French, the second in Catalan and lastly English, perhaps the most useless of the languages accept for this week during Visa Pour L’image, as English maintains its credibility as the language of international media still. It is my first trip to the city, to the south of France (previous trips to the country have taken me only to Paris and Bretagne, where my dearest and oldest friend claims deep ancestral roots and where half of her family resides) and to the annual photojournalism festival, likely and perhaps the biggest in the world in its 23rd year.

An editor once confided quite privately that the media was so late to catch the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and project images of the destruction of New Orleans worldwide not because President George W. Bush’s response left much to be desired but because the photo editors were on a working vacation in this city, Perpignan in the south of France. In other words, even if you think this annual gathering of photojournalists, their photo editors and the French public (who tend to treat journalists like rockstars) is irrelevant to current events and world affairs, guess again.

As a first time visitor to Perpignan and Visa Pour L’image, my duty is ostensibly to take it all in and to live and learn. I have also managed to arrange a steady series of meetings with many of the editors at many of the precise publications I have long hoped to show my work too, especially as I prepare for a move to Baku, Azerbaijan where I will be working with a Fulbright grant on three primary projects: 1) the social and cultural role of women in a country at the crossroads of East and West, 2) the country’s development in preparation for its role as host of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012 and 3) a continuation of my previous work documenting the socioeconomic transformation along the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline route.

Over the course of the coming week, I will be answering the following question from editor after editor: what work do you have to show? Here, in a few brief images, project titles, and captions is a preview:

 

BAKU-TBILISI-CEYHAN OIL PIPELINE

Young girls dress themselves appropriately for prayer upon entering the Shi’a Icherishahar Djuma Masjid or Innercity Mosque for Friday prayers in the old city of Baku, Azerbaijan on July 2, 2010.

 

HUNGARY’S TOXIC RED SLUDGE INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT

The rupture in the toxic red alumina sludge reservoir as seen from the top of a remaining piece of the reservoir’s wall at the MAL plant in Ajka, Hungary on November 22, 2010, that sent a torrent of toxic red alumina sludge pouring into the surrounding countryside, several villages including Kolontar and Devecser and resulted in the death of ten individuals, including a 14 months old baby, injured hundreds and left several families homeless.

NEW WORK: PRAGUE STAG NIGHTS

Angelo Eleveld, 22, of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, a stag tourist celebrating the impending marriage of his friend Michael Klos, 23, dances with stranger and fellow stag tourist, the soon to be married Blair Skadden of New Zealand in the “mankini” made famous by British comedian Sasha Baron Cohen in the “Borat” film at the Beer Factory on Weneslaus Square in Prague, Czech Republic on August 12, 2011.

CHICAGO POLITICS PORTFOLIO

President Elect Barack Obama waves to a crowd of 250,000 in Grant Park, Chicago through bullet proof glass after becoming the 44th U.S. President on election night on November 4, 2008.

Final note: If you are an editor, or photographer hoping to reach me this week, I will be available on my Czech cell at +420.774.037.084.