I can call sexual only my beloved woman
Once he dreamed of becoming an engineer, pilot, guitarist, cameraman, archaeologist, but in the end he connected his life with it, which he has no one closer to – with photography. For a long time he did not take digital seriously, and now he is proud of the latest model of a digital camera. Unstable, but incredibly sensitive and able to love, Sanan Aleskerov using a camera tries to comprehend the trees, houses, road, eyes and hands of a person. For him, love is more than a feeling. Perhaps that is why he believes that we should not overshadow it with marriage.
Start. Morning. Aina.
My morning always starts the same. I wake up at six and my daughter and I go to school. Communication with her gives me great pleasure. On the way, Aina tells me everything that happens in her life. I am not asking anything. As soon as I try to ask something, she immediately falls silent. In general, I do everything so that her day starts well.
I don't care what woman's lips are: red or purple. I am more concerned with what these lips say. I wonder how she talks, what she thinks. With Icheri Sheher – the same thing. It is also a living organism, living its own life. You come to him and, if you know how to enter, you penetrate into his world and, if you succeed, there are so many unknown and interesting things waiting for you. Including the architecture of the Old Town.
If I’m leaving somewhere, then in a week I must return to Baku because I can’t live anywhere else. Although, frankly, I am fed up with the city. Sometimes I want to move away, but be able to come back. The same story repeats itself every year: I leave for Sheki, the Galarsan Gorarsan fortress, and each time I say that I would like to live there, die, etc. But nothing of the kind. A week passes, two, three, and that's it – I am again drawn to Baku. This is my inconstancy.
I love my work. They are my children. It turns out or not – the viewer or someone else will judge. Maybe the story, maybe my life, maybe my daughter. It is not the thing. I just want to do it and I do. If, say, some critic says that I am repeating someone or creating uninteresting things, this is his personal business. I will continue to do my work no matter what.
Since 1996 I have been teaching photography. How many students did I have? Already do not count. I used to select them, but then I realized that this is not entirely correct, because when choosing, you can make mistakes in forecasts and expectations. It happens that a person may be completely not interesting in life, even somewhere uncivilized, and work fantastically. I know similar examples among artists: intelligence is at zero, but takes incredible pictures. From God it was given to him...
It was in the army. I didn’t even know how to take pictures. Just clicked on the button... Mom then bought me a camera so I could take photos for our family archive. As I remember now, it was FED-3. But I didn’t even touch it. And after a year of service, she asked me to send this camera to shoot for the demobilization album. This image is still preserved.
Analog vs digital
And here is my inconstancy. Until now, I did not like digital, but now I have purchased a new digital camera and I am happy to take pictures of it. I shoot both on film and on digital, and recent work even on Polaroid. With digital came convenience. After all, besides my creative work, there is also a professional activity. I have a scanner, I have a computer, I have a digital camera. I shoot and do with the picture of what I want, but I want to produce the product myself – from start to finish. But for me there is no place for a figure in creative photography yet; it seems to me that it slightly depreciates my work. If the analogue of photography is treated as something holy, then the analog is a flirtation.
What everyone is filming now is wonderful. Although I know that 90% of today's photographers would not do this if it were not so simple. But all simple relationships are usually superficial. Therefore, the percentage of empty, shallow work has grown very much. So, the fault is the simplicity of the relationship.
My exhibition was held in Georgia. There a policeman came up to me and said: “Dear, what an interesting portrait!” – I was surprised: “Which one?” – And he showed a photograph of the eroded sand, which I took once in Nabran. – I was at a loss: “Where is the portrait here?” – He replies: “Here: a mustache, a mouth!” What a man! What an image!” Now I do not see this photograph in another way – this is a portrait of a man in the sand. He saw it. And I carried another. My work was called “Life”. This means when there is ambiguity, no description or title can limit the viewer's imagination. If a person wants to perceive as he sees, he will perceive.
I graduated from the faculty of journalism. And I even happened to work in my specialty for some time. During the years of rebuilding, I worked at Azerinform for a year and a half.
In London, there is no need to ask anyone for permission to shoot on the street. In Paris, the same thing. And here, for example, a man came up to me one day and said: “Come on, pull out the tape, or I'll kill you now!” I turned to the policeman, and the man suddenly disappeared. He escaped, one might say. That was funny. All the time I remember the words of the ingenious photographer Joseph Koudelka that first you need to shoot, then ask. Since there is no dilemma here: saving a child who fell into the river, for example, or taking pictures. Every moment is important in photography; you can miss the most important moment.
The so-called live shooting, whether street or reporting, has always been a big problem for me, because sometimes I have to interfere in someone else's life, enter it, sometimes without even knocking. Indeed, many believe that a photographer is an extra headache. If I have a complaint demanding that the photos be deleted, I will definitely delete. I never resist.
For me, people are not divided into famous and unfamous. There are people whom I would like to photograph. Once I wanted to shoot Arif Melikov, and I had the opportunity. We were very close friends with Yusif Samedoglu, and I always really wanted to take his picture, but for some reason I put it off all the time. And suddenly they reported that Yusif muallim was at deathbed. I so wanted to visit him, but he didn’t even let me in: he didn’t want me to see him in such a state... For the most part I’m shooting ordinary people – people who are dear to me. And sometimes I don’t shoot those who are dear. Yusif muallim did not have time...
Nude for me is first of all a form. That is, it is the same for me as photographing a landscape. I'm completely not interested in shooting any eroticism or sexuality. Not because I am a cold person, but because others did it too well before me. If in my life I shot a nude a hundred times, then 99% of the negatives of these photos were simply cut into small pieces and thrown away (although I usually never destroy the negative). Because either it's vulgarity, or it's porn, or it's just bad taste. I can not do it…
Sexuality is one of the manifestations of love. For me, the concept of sexuality in the definition of a woman is unacceptable. I will say that she is beautiful, interesting. I can call sexual only my beloved woman.
Love is a relationship. The power of relationships. That is, if you have no relationship, then there can be no talk of love. And she has many manifestations: it can be friendship, love of food, love of a woman, love of mother, love of her friend, love of a bicycle, in the end. Yes to anything! That is, as in photography, there must be a studio and a punctum. Studium is everything that you like, everything that relates to “I like”. And the punctum is “I like”, in which “I love” dominates.
The woman of my dreams is a friend with whom you can talk, and argue, and disagree. It must be a smart person, and smart for me means beautiful. In my youth it seemed to me that beautiful women were mostly silly women. Then I realized that true beauty is impossible without the mind, without decency, without culture.
I have a parrot, but I’ve been thinking of getting a dog for a long time. There is only one thing witholding me: I do not want to leave animals. Even for a while. But I am a person who is constantly on the move: leaving, coming. Where can I leave this child? This has stopped me since childhood. On the eve of my birthday, dad always asked me: “What should I give you?” And as soon as I tried to open my mouth, he interrupted me in a word: “There will be no dogs”, and I answered: “Then nothing is needed.” Therefore, I still do not like my birthday. Childhood injury, apparently.
Before becoming a photographer, I went through a lot of professions in my head, and I do not think that I abandoned my dream. It’s just that I had a new dream, to which I devoted myself for life. And today I dream of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. And I will be exhibiting. I know. Just everything has its time.
Interview by Gulgun Gurbanova
Photo by Sitara Ibrahimbeyli
Material published in the 2nd issue.