Dear Guests! Ladies and Gentlemen!
Welcome to the “Big Five” exhibition, held in the framework of the 3rd International “Maiden Tower” Festival. I would like to express my special gratitude to Baku Museum of Modern Arts, the “Qiz Qalasi” Art Gallery, Baku Magazine, Ichari Shahar State Historical and Architectural Reserve and IDEA team for the organization of this event.
This festival, and “Big Five” exhibition in particular, gives all of our citizens a great opportunity to see the divergent views of artists around the globe united on a single theme. We have dedicated today’s exhibition to “gazelles”, one of the most beautiful and endangered animals of the South Caucasus.
As you know, last year we initiated a project aimed at protecting rare species of animals inhabiting the territory of Azerbaijan. A special attention was paid to the “Big Five” group of animals, including wolf, bear, eagle, the Caucasian leopard and gazelle. Here you can see the scaled models of gazelles that are widespread in our region.
Caucasian gazelles, or “jeyrans”, were traditionally illustrated as the symbol of grace and elegance in Azerbaijani national fairy-tales and songs. Unfortunately gazelles are still under the threat of extinction in the South Caucasus. Last year, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation collaborated with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to start a new project on reintroduction of gazelles to their historical habitat. Our IDEA members also wanted to contribute to this awareness raising campaign through a different, artistic approach.The IDEA campaign will soon celebrate its first anniversary, and we have implemented various successful projects in Baku and its neighborhood throughout this year. One of the products of our work can be found right here, near the Maiden Tower. Based on the seaside of the city, the Tower always used to be the habitat for swifts and other birds migrating from Africa. Conservation work to protect the tower from the ravages of the environment that began in 2008 meant destruction of the natural nests. IDEA, in cooperation with Ichari Shahar Historical and Architectural Reserve, built alternative nests right next to this monument to protect them from losing their traditional habitat.
Today we will demonstrate a collection of gazelle models painted by Azerbaijani and foreign artists from 23 different countries. Professional artists who had already participated in our previous exhibitions, as well as amateurs, including some of my own family members made their contribution in the process of painting. You can remember the exhibitions of Maiden Tower models that were organized in 2010 and 2011 as part of the “Maiden Tower” Festivals. Success of previous exhibitions proved the aptness of these events in delivering their messages to the broad public. Each of these artists may have different perspectives in depiction of these beautiful animals, but all of them had one message - importance of peace, love and mutual understanding in the common house we are living in. This idea uniquely correlates with IDEA’s main slogan: “One Earth – one future”. It is worth mentioning that as part of this project, gazelle models will be also exhibited in different cities around the world; such as Istanbul, Rome and London.
Upcoming weeks are special for the cultural life of Baku: our capital is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest; two days ago Baku Museum of Modern Arts hosted an unprecedented exhibition, featuring pieces of contemporary African art.
Today, the 19th of May, was also a remarkable day for all the members of IDEA team. Just a few hours ago, we attended the opening ceremony of the new IDEA Resource Center at the Academy of Public Administration. The new center will become a home for those who want to create, protect, and nurture. Many creative environmentally responsible ideas and practices will be born and brought to the attention of public from this center. IDEA Resource Center will make a difference through innovation, leadership, and proactive actions.
On this positive note, I invite you all to enjoy the evening. Thank you!