Professionals Far From The Profession

Artists, historically revered for their ideas, face a complex reality in Azerbaijan, where the pursuit of art often intersects with the harsh demands of economic survival. Elnur Reza, a filmmaker and artist, reflects the struggles of many in the field who find it challenging to sustain themselves through their craft.

Elnur, a graduate in film, theater, and film acting, has experienced the economic pressures that force many artists to diversify their sources of income. While his films gained recognition internationally, financial success remained elusive. The necessity to engage in commercial work alongside artistic endeavors became a pragmatic choice for stability.

For Elnur, navigating the fine line between art and commerce is a delicate balance. He acknowledges that, at present, his primary source of income is not derived from his artistic pursuits. The economic realities compel him to work in a bookstore, where, surrounded by books, he draws a semblance of inspiration for his creative work.

Despite his artistic successes on the international stage, Elnur's financial gains from his films remain limited. He highlights the challenges faced by artists who strive to create meaningful works while grappling with the financial constraints imposed by the industry.

Aytaj Ashrafli, a graduate of the Azim Azimzade College of the Academy of Arts, shares a similar journey. Despite she initial dreams in sculpture, he found herself entangled in commissioned work that left her feeling like a "robot." The stark transition from the dreamlike environment of art school to the pragmatic realities of life led him to question her path.

In a society where individuals must often balance creative pursuits with the demands of daily life, artists like Aytaj face challenges in maintaining a sense of purpose and fulfillment. The struggle to earn a livelihood while pursuing artistic passions remains a persistent theme.

Economist Farid Mehralizade sheds light on the economic factors at play, emphasizing the inadequacy of income opportunities in Azerbaijan's art scene. The Soviet tradition of managing art collectives under state auspices, rooted in ideological considerations, limits the autonomy of independent artists.

Mehralizade underscores the need for a more supportive institutional environment, advocating for changes in legislation and the creation of spaces where artists can thrive independently. He suggests that tax benefits and subsidies, along with access to funds and equipment, could pave the way for sustainable income sources for independent artists.

As artists grapple with the dichotomy of pursuing passion and meeting economic needs, the broader conversation in Azerbaijan echoes the call for a more conducive environment that fosters artistic expression without compromising financial stability. The delicate dance between art and economics continues to shape the narratives of independent artists in Azerbaijan.


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