All posts tagged: eurovision song contest

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 …

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: Cordoba and “The Edge in Dissent”

“Cordoba had the edge in dissent,” begins Pakistani writer and commentator Tariq Ali in a section devoted to the one-time intellectual capitol of Al-Andalus, the once Muslim southern half of contemporary Spain that is home to one of the most spectacular works of Islamic architecture, The Mezquita, in his larger post-September 11 work, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity. Much has happened in the ever-complicated relationship between mine and Ali’s country in the last week since U.S. Navy Seals raided, killed and then buried at sea Osama bin Laden, who it turns out has spent several of the past fugitive years in an elaborate compound just off Kakul Road, the drive leading to Pakistan’s elite military academy equivalent to Sandhurst in the U.K. or West Point here in the U.S. The compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was just 40 kilometers from the capital Islamabad. Not even former President and Head of the Pakistani Army Pervez Musharraf received such treatment, although he did assert he had gone jogging in the area in the past. The …

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 …