Azerbaijan 2013

Azerbaijan is a  country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded  by the Caspian Sea and was once part of the Soviet Union. The country has large gas and oil reserves and therefore plays a central role in Europe's energy supply. 

As a result of secession from Azerbaijan, Armenia was pushed into a war of independence against Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh region in the Caucasus became the scene of this conflict, which lasted until 1994. During the war, thousands of Azerbaijanis had to flee from the Nagorno-Karabakh region. 20 years later, most of these refugees still live in questionable conditions. Azerbaijan spent billions to host the European Games in 2015, but residents of the country’s wealth live anything but a life of luxury. Many families live in makeshift settlements in the oilfields around Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. However, the oilfields are a very toxic and hostile place with an appearance that verges on post-apocalyptic. The wind carries up  fumes of burning plastic and gas next to an oil-slicked lake entirely ringed with a crest of animal carcass burning trash and clothes. Hypnotic nodding donkey pumps squeaking monotonous as they suck the ground dry. 

In 2013 I spent several weeks in Azerbaijan to photograph the daily life of Azerbaijani families.