All posts filed under: Eurovision

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2012

The following are the most viewed blog posts on this site over the course of 2012 that were published in 2012: 1. Best of 2012: Azerbaijan and Turkey (430 views) The best images from 2012 include images from Azerbaijan and Turkey. 2. CNN Photos Blog: Bachelor Parties in Prague (198 views) When friends living in Eastern European nations began complaining of noisy, drunken tourists in their historical towns, American photojournalist Amanda Rivkin wanted to dig deeper. 3. Baku Nights (164 views) Women dance on the table at the bar Shakespeare in Baku, Azerbaijan on March 17, 2012. 4. EurasiaNet: Baku Is Bulldozing Its Past (70 views) My images of demolitions and reconstruction in Baku illustrated a story by Ulviyya Asadzade and Khadija Ismayilova entitled, “Azerbaijan: Baku is Bulldozing its Past,” for EurasiaNet (April 27, 2012). 5. British Journal of Photography: VII Photo adds four photographers to Mentor programme (54 views) Photographers Laura El-Tantawy, Nafis Ahmed, Jošt Franko and Amanda Rivkin have been selected to join VII Photo’s Mentor Program 6. Look3 Festival of the Photograph: …

2012 A Year of Transition

2012 was luckily not like 2011, a year that goes down with 1789, 1848, 1917, 1989 as a year of revolution.  By contrast, 2012 was a year of transition in most every respect.  Global technologies, movements, ideas, and politics are all in flux; only the economies of the world remain sluggish, with some notable exceptions.  Turkey is one of these exceptions.  By 2023, the centennial of the modern secular Turkish Republic, the currently ruling Justice and Development Party, AK Party according to its Turkish acronym, hopes that Turkey will be counted among the top 10 economies in the world. (A great BBC Global Business report on what could go wrong is well worth a listen.) After finishing my Fulbright grant in Azerbaijan, photographing Azerbaijani Women, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Eurovision Song Contest, I moved to Istanbul in September to freelance here in Turkey and the region. I joined the VII Mentor Program where I am working with Ron Haviv on improving my craft for the duration of two years. In this time, I …

Voice of Russia American Edition Interview: Is Azerbaijan’s J-Lo Concert Taunting Iran?

Is Azerbaijan’s J-Lo Concert Taunting Iran? Voice of Russia American Edition Oct 16, 2012 19:37 Moscow Time Interview with Ric Young The country of Azerbaijan appears to be embracing western culture and irritating its conservative Islamic neighbor, Iran, by holding concerts with popular western female singers and sponsoring a women’s athletic event. But is the country as liberal as it appears? Host Ric Young talks with photojournalist Amanda Rivkin from Istanbul about the country: (Listen here.) Rihanna, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez have all appeared at concerts in Azerbaijan recently, but the singers have been condemned by critics due to Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record. In Rivkin’s opinion, the events are less about twitting Iran with a production of “scantily clad” western singers, and more about trying to improve their global image. The true tension between Azerbaijan and Iran is based on ethnicity, rather than women’s rights.

The New Inquiry: European Pie

European Pie The New Inquiry by Amanda Rivkin May 26, 2012 Eurovision began in Switzerland in 1956. The European Broadcasting Union hoped that bringing the countries of the continent together for a night in song might pave the way for a more harmonious future, free of the wars and genocide that comprised Europe’s darker past. At the time, “Europe” meant a handful of West European countries. Today, the contest has turned into a bright, shiny, sequined alternative to the present afflictions of a Europe adrift, one that helps Europeans imagine a new and different continent. Much of Eastern Europe participates and Eurovision has proved itself to be more than a flamboyant bonanza of continental gay tourism, but a sort of imaginary revolution. The spirit of Eurovision is exemplified by past winner Dana International, a beautiful Israeli transvestite, who won in 1998 with her pop anthem, “Diva,” earning her, among other high level honors, a place on the shortlist of global millennium icons. Viva la vida! Viva victoria! Dana International belts out before her finale pose, …

TIME: Selling Azerbaijan

Selling Azerbaijan TIME by William Lee Adams May 14, 2012 Last May, Ell & Nikki, an obscure duo from Azerbaijan, won the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. The country’s President, Ilham Aliyev, treated the musical win like a military triumph, describing it as “a victory for the people of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani state.” By winning the pan-European singing contest — which, kitschy as it is, unites the region like little else — Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku, earned the right to host this year’s show, which will be broadcast to more than 100 million people at the end of May. […]

Touching the Stars: Azerbaijan and Eurovision

While attending the World Youth Festival, sponsored by the pro-government Yeni Azerbaycan Partiyasi (New Azerbaijan Party) youth organization Ireli, I had a chance to meet Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Camal, better known as Ell + Nikki, winners of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest hosted in Düsseldorf, Germany. Their victory means Azerbaijan gets to play host to next year’s contest. As a very serious observer of the contest and perhaps most interestingly, the politics surrounding the contest, this was no small thrill. When Azerbaijan won last May, I was nowhere near Europe or a place to watch the contest, but I knew almost immediately of Azerbaijan’s victory. I had already secured the Fulbright grant to Azerbaijan; my close friends and family who are well aware of my obsession with the Eurovision competition made sure I knew who the victor was. Quite simply, my phone blew up. Several months before I arrived in Baku, I think it was the first sign that I was really on my way to Azerbaijan. From yesterday’s brief remarks at the opening …

Interview on National Geographic Weekend Radio about Azerbaijan and Eurovision

Last month when I was in Washington for the Fulbright orientation, I stopped by National Geographic headquarters for a brief interview with Boyd Matson for his National Geographic Weekend radio show. While the clip is not quite yet available online, it did air yesterday on satellite radio and several AM and FM stations across America. You can have a listen here. Previously I was a guest of the show in early 2010 to discuss my work photographing everyday life and the economic reality facing Cubans in their country after a trip there resulted in several images being published in Foreign Policy.

From the Archive: Europop Diplomacy

Two weeks from today, on May 14, the Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Dusseldorf, Germany after last year’s German contestant, Lena, won in Oslo, Norway with her song “Satellite“. More than just a Eurotrash version of American idol, a kitsch showcase, and an evening of Europe at its most fabulous, Eurovision embodies all the finer qualities of true geopolitics: ambition, scale, scope, grandeur, and the embrace of the superficial and culturally symbolic. Quite simply, Eurovision is that Saturday night a cultural kitsch observer waits year round for. While English is the unofficial language of the contest, many contestants still choose to sing in their native languages risking the ire of other competing countries – possibly with competing nationalisms. There is a “Slavic bloc” to speak of when the text message voting comes around at the final stage of the competition. With most Balkan countries putting forth respectably kitschy enough candidates to make it to the finals, usually under the tutelage of grand masters such as Goran Bregovic, the old fault lines of tensions …

From the Archive: Muslims Wearing Things

Last week, the American media landscape was in an uproar over comments former (and now, recently fired) National Public Radio (NPR) analyst Juan Williams made during an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor,” the Fox News Channel program of conservative, professional provacateur Bill O’Reilly. In a discussion over whether or not the United States has a “Muslim issue,” Juan Williams stated that he is: …not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. Williams was subsequently fired from NPR and Fox News announced they were offering him a $2 million contract. The episode and how it was handled touched off a firestorm in the American media. Similarly in French public life, legislation recently banned certain forms of Muslim women’s garb prompting two young female Parisiens …