May of 2016 in Baku: a conceptual art exhibition?

Рахман Бадалов: «Для меня главное событие в жизни Азербайджана в мае 2016 года, поступок двух молодых людей, Гияса и Байрама. Несмотря ни на что, восхищаюсь их поступком. В том числе и по той причине, что сам на подобное не способен. Ни сейчас, ни в молодости»

Bayram Mammadov and Qiyas Ibrahimov
Bayram Mammadov and Qiyas Ibrahimov

Several years ago, on November 19th, 2009, to be more precise, I wrote an article entitled “Emin and Adnan”, which I posted on my blog.

At that time, there was an ongoing trial. During this same time period, I had started to feel that the spirit of protest had began to fade, and that the youth of our country had less and less of a thirst for freedom. That our youth had turned into disinterested seniors. However, the fact that the trial was being widely discussed on the internet gave me some hope that the youth movement in the country would continue to thrive, somehow.

7 years have passed.

Emin and Adnan have been free for a long time now.

“I would not hurry to condemn both the youth and society”

Alas — and I say this with deep grief — our well – known lawyers Elton Guliyev and Isakhan and Ashurov of that same trial are now deceased. There are now other lawyers working on similar cases, and they have also been a critical component of supporting the alternative – minded thinkers and activists of our country, but the lack of Elton and Isakhan is felt strongly still.

And what of my forecast? Did it come true? Is there a rise of a youth movement in the country, or is it dead?

The short answer is, no, there is no rise. There are a still a lot of “young seniors”, and a significant part of our society continues to sink into lethargy and indifference. But I would not hurry to condemn them or our society in general.

“And once again I believed that the face of the country will be changed sooner or later”

During the past few years, I have gone out for walks and less and less. But one day in May, it so happened that I was sitting in a cafe with some young people – significantly younger than myself. We took a walk about town. The young people would run into their friends, stop and talk with them for a while and tell me something about them. That made me remember my own youth. I thought then that we should not idealize our personal youth – but it occured to me that the new generation is way better integrated into this Big World than we were. And once again I came to believe that the power of the Internet, of travel, of studying abroad and other, similar opportunity will change the face of this country sooner rather than later.

Hopefully, it will not be too late.

“A daring act. A crazy act”

On that day, there were no doubts in me – my young friends said the same – that the most important event in Azerbaijan in May of 2016 was the act of two young people that left their shocking “graffiti” on a place where it was only allowed to bow down or lift up your hands as if in front of a deity.

A daring act, that is for sure. A crazy act. But as modern physicists say “Your theory is crazy but it’s not crazy enough to be true”.

The future will show how “true” this act was, but it has already become a part of our history and one cannot wash it out, as one might “graffiti” from a granite pedestal….

“I cannot encourage similar acts”

As an old person I cannot respond positively to such acts.

According to witnesses, these young people were treated very cruelly to discourage them from doing anything so daring again. However, a living human who is deliberately caused physical pain as a form punishment for me is way more important than any “high ideals”.

… The Ancient Greeks after an unfair trial condemned Socrates, but his body was inviolable: he calmly drank a glass of poison while continuing a discussion…

“I admire their deed”

I cannot stop imagining their parents, what kind of things did they have to go through, and I unwittingly think to myself: was it worth to cause them such pain?

I must lament that our society has remained indifferent,  even actively judgmental. I hope that in the nearest future, the youth will have a chance to speak up their minds without resorting to offensive graffiti.

For me the most important event in Azerbaijan in May 2016 was the act committed by two young people Qiyas and Bayram.

And despite everything, I admire their deed, including the fact that I would not be able to do anything like that myself. Neither now nor when I was younger.

“Formula 1” in Baku

On the threshold of “Formula”, the image of Baku has transformed. And on that day when I was walking in the city centre, I came up with a crazy thought.

It occurred to me that perhaps all of Baku has been turned into one large, conceptual art project. We the pedestrians, transport, shops and restaurants, have all been placed into enormous cages, which we’ve been instructed to stay inside of. Observers of the exhibition can see what is going on within the cage, and outside of it.

The artist is obviously witty.

Because the observers and the imprisoned can see each other very clearly.

This article reflects the opinion of the author and as such may not coincide with that of Meydan TV.

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