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Matinee: 'Meet Rena Effendi' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

11 June 2022

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 452nd in our series of Saturday matinees today: Meet Rena Effendi.

This 3:46 video by Monocle Films puts the spotlight on Istanbul-based photographer Rena Effendi. Effendi's work has focused on the environment, the oil industry and social justice.

But in this piece she talks about visiting Libya in 2021. She had never been to Tripoli before "but was soon won over and captured a mesmerising mix of full-blown glamour, oddness and a perhaps unexpected order and calmness," according to the liner notes.

In the process she talks about why she shoots on film and why she uses a medium-format Rollieflex whose design is nearly 100 years old.

She hasn't been at it quite that long, though.

She had been working as an economic development specialist at the United States Agency for International Development in Baku when, in 2005, she quit her job to become a full-time freelance photographer.

She published Pipe Dreams, a photobook showing how the oil industry effected the lives of ordinary citizens in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, in 2009. And in 2012 she published Liquid Land, in which her images are paired with photographs of perished butterflies hunted by her father, a Soviet entomologist, who collected more than 30,000 butterflies in Soviet Union.

She has worked on editorial assignments for the National Geographic, The New Yorker, Newsweek, TIME, The New York Times magazine, Vogue, Marie Claire, The Sunday Times, GEO and others.

And she is now one of the photographers celebrated in Monocle's new title The Monocle Book of Photography: Reportage From Places Less Explored, which will be published on Sept. 20. Here's a peek:

Her trip to Libya was an assignment for Monocle the magazine, to look beyond the headlines at the daily life of the country's inhabitants.

The images are indeed lovely, not the negative coverage you might expect to seeing.

She was particularly fond of the narrow old streets of Tripoli where she photographed people working out of their homes, many of them immigrants. She also found Martyrs' Square fascinating. Despite its violent history, she found ordinary Libyans enjoying the space with horse rides, personal photos and ice creams.

As the images included in this video show, Effendi finds life surviving beyond the attempts to destroy it.

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