Q1: What can organizations do to get their proverbial share of the pie?

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch,” Carl Sagan famously notes, “you must first create the universe.” Finding answers to the above questions is an endeavor as difficult as this. How exactly is an “experience of economic barrenness” to be metaphorically related to the apple of Eden through which the paradisiacal fertility was lost? And with regard to today’s organizational inertia, what can act as a direct antidote to the bite of/from the Edenic apple for vivifying poisonous, toxic economic conditions. The apple that was “beautiful to behold and sweet to eat,” of course, didn’t present itself in the image of a deadly fruit at first glance, but rather as a “food of life” (‘cibus vitalis’). Similarly, the organizational environment (or context) is a vast ‘garden’ of strong, intelligible signals and distorted noise which both need to be questioned, explored, and scanned openly and systematically without failing to pick up the spark that is the idea and plant its seeds within the organizational “soil,” so that it results in continuous activity, change, and innovation. Hence, it ought to be obvious that every innovation starts with ideas. And, when observing new successful organizations (e.g., Silicon Valley’s Google, Apple, YouTube, etc.), these ideas have to be as disruptive as possible, shaking up the static equilibrium of structures, as well as initiating movement in the organization’s heart. The ‘seeds’ of innovation are best sown on the soil of the heart from which successful new products can then sprout like plants ensuring optimal growth.

Q2: How can myopic “couch-potato organizations” break their inertia?

Only very seldomly do organizations reach their full potential. Most companies, especially established ones such as physical retail chains and shopping malls, prefer to stick close to “old” basics, which made them successful in the past. They are not as agile and responsive as they used to be – if they ever were – and not as idea-oriented as they need to be. It would be surprising if they were looking for something paradigm shifting. Basic conceptual foundations are outdated, the execution often clumsy. ‘Discovery’ doesn’t happen anymore, and if ‘new’ ideas are ever found, they are most likely destined to end up in the trash can anyway. It should be clear now that a comfort zone (complacency) is always also a danger zone – simply because without risking anything at all, organizations risk fading away altogether. Rather than ranting on about how the ‘Internet’ – or the weather (retailers like this a lot) – is to blame, today’s organizations should always seek to go beyond tried and true methods for the sake of finding a balance between fear and the comfort of the mundane (a healthy “growth zone”). Engaging in ‘cockfights’ only drains organizational energy that could be used in building strategies to break away from the pack and become a swan instead. Typically, there is no safe course of action for this. Safety is an illusion anyway. Anything could happen. Anytime. Organizations are embedded in a more or less “unsafe” environment that also happens to be a relevant contextual universe, so one needs to be sensitive to all its subtleties.

Q3: What is the “secret sauce” for the successful future organization?

So what is the secret? Or, as they say: ‘what’s the secret sauce to become and remain a successful and creative organization?’ Of course, an ecology that advocates trust, openness, sharing, and a solid social capital (i.e., network structures) already partly makes for a perpetual innovation machine, but it is still not quite enough to keep it running like a well-oiled mechanism of economic growth and development through pioneering, differentiation and integration. A high degree of passion, energy and commitment for the company as much as its products, too, implies a ‘mission,’ a certain sense of direction, ingenuity and, above all else, focus. However, it is my conviction that a more concrete and technical ‘recipe’ can be identified: storytelling (and perhaps ‘world building’). So, while stories may not make up the tomato part of an “organizational ketchup,” it is also true that they add spice (and value) to a company’s brand name. And indeed, stories [I’m not talking about business storytelling or advertisements!] are not only more effective, but also allow for a very deep emotional connection between the organization and its customers, prompting them to buy a plethora of ‘embedded’ – for lack of a better word – items (within a frame story), rather than force-feeding a bland-tasting sauce of potentially boring products. Through storytelling, an organization’s portfolio becomes more specialized (and therefore less unmemorable), more intelligent, and better networked, co-operating with itself, with customers and the environment.

Q4: “To grow or not to grow?” — That is the fundamental question.

When talking about organizational growth, one can make out a clearly identifiable pattern of diverging motifs that involve barrenness and fertility. Economic growth, of course, is most often associated with a relatively concrete image such as an apple tree that is “laden with fruit, and always green” preferably bringing higher profits every year. To some contemporary critics like Frédéric Laloux, however, growth for the sake of growth, from a medical standpoint, corresponds to “the ideology of a cancer cell.” Since both of these opposing views are equally valid in their own right, it is reasonable to define “key success factors” that would enable organizations to have more positive (or less negative) outcomes (gains and progresses). In times of an ever increasing environmental consciousness, I would like to determine the new factor as organizational fertility rather than organizational growth. With metaphoric reference to ecological-economic models of long-term soil productivity (LTSP), I define organizational fertility (O.F.) as the status of the organization in relation to the amount as well as availability to output of structures and components necessary for production and growth. Organizations, therefore, are dynamic bodies; since organizational fertility is not a completely stable factor but changes with stage of succession and the organization’s profile development. Cultivating an organization’s “potential energy” allows smart, non-destructive values that don’t see this latter as a static inanimate object but an organism, instead.


For modern ‘globetrotters,’ the traditional physical retail store embodies nothing but the dead (or let’s say dying) remnant of our old, yet enduring past – withering away like a cut-off branch, since more and more people are likely to choose online rather than traditional ways of shopping nowadays. And should they be doubted? While fashion has ‘souled out’ (mind the wordplay) to an economic beast altogether, defaulting retailers and department stores likewise have put their entire, and quite often last trust into the hands of efficiency-based consulting firms – the modern-day Frankensteinian ‘doctors’ with a cure, or a magical panacea for all corporate ills (let’s be honest – more often than not it turns out to be some “one-size-fits-all” strategy that proved successful in the past). A ‘wise’ decision! After all, those have a world-renowned penchant for grasping the hard facts and figures, the “bottom-line” (which is not quite the original talent, but a talent nonetheless, since today’s fashion industry resembles a bottomless pit), and the real “meat” of an underlying issue. Therefore, their magical “silver bullet” strikes twice-as-fast, right into the heart of the beast. Needless to say, the one-size-fits-all approach widely used throughout the seriously injured fashion industry proves in fact to be more harmful than beneficial, if the operation was not done properly. It’s as if any Emergency Medical Technician would deliberately choose to place an already used ‘dirty’ Band-Aid on this deep, gaping bullet wound in severe need of stitches.

Unfortunately, it is not actually going to help on a long-term basis, the unclean Band-Aid can cause the most severe infections, and the gun-shot wound will most likely get worse sometime after, irrespective the stealthy bandage-changing and nursing care. And here lies the problem: many of the major ‘health’ issues facing today’s department stores are systemic, and as such, they require systemic solutions; that is to say, the persistent “thorn in the industry’s flesh” is not just being stuck in the visible corpus/corpse [physical element], the very heart is sick [spiritual element]. Following the Hygeian (Greek Goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation; daughter of Asclepius, God of Medicine) holistic principles of health and disease, a single part will never be cured in itself and for itself, if the whole is put out of sight. Thus, one will not be able to properly diagnose and treat an underlying illness by only tending to a breach of visible or superficial scratches – their cosmetic make-up. The body’s inner core also has to be regarded as key to this. It’s sad to say that, however astonishing a placebo response to untailored, one-size-fits-all models of development might appear at first glance, simplistic strategies always carry a high risk of unintended negative side-effects, effectively causing them to ‘backfire’ in the not-so-bright future. The ‘silver bullet’ – an adage for the magic cure – is not just a killer, it’s a “painkiller.” However, even though retailers may as well proceed in that manner, it is a rather bad habit to channel in this fashion.

Now, here comes a second problem: solutions which may well have shown to be valuable and effective in organization A cannot be simply taken and transfused/transplanted into organization B due to them having different environmental self-definitions. It is like a donor-specific blood transfusion or any other heart transplant, for instance. Performing these medical tasks strictly requires in-depth certainty about the compatibility of the donor’s blood with that of the patient; otherwise severest consequences might follow, since using the wrong type of blood can be fatal and, therefore, is most difficult to ‘cure’ – quite similar to a heart or other solid-organ transplant, where there is always the chance that the body could reject the new organ as a foreign body (a virus from outer space), even though anti-rejection drugs are used. And despite the accurate administration of powerful immunosuppressants to ‘lull’ the recipient’s immune system, the human body may still immediately reject new organs. While organs are (relatively) abundant in their natural environments, the human or – in our case – the corporate body, they become a rather scarce resource for implantation into another organism; and this is so because the living tissue is suited peculiarly to the ‘site’ in which it originated. The immune system will almost always reject the introduction of any foreign tissue for the [sole] reason that it has discriminating solid “self”-markers – and, as a consequence, donor organs or different systems/strategies are recognized as “non-self.”

Not surprisingly, any such all-out assault on the natural corporate identity with ‘outsider systems’ (e.g., ‘cut-and-paste’ or ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategies) leaves a deep and fundamental ideological rift between the “natural” (old) and the “artificial” (new) companies’ approach to various styles of execution. All big fashion houses and large commercial enterprises changing their creative director to be the “new heart” of the company on an almost monthly basis exemplifies what the “rage” in modern textile and clothing industries can do to destroy what used to be a beautiful whole; now, however, it is a zombified creature torn to pieces and mutilated by these aggressive wolves lurking out there. Nevertheless, ‘refashioning’ their way of conducting business will ultimately be a necessity in the close future. Here the removal of dead tissue is central in surgical wound treatment. The nurse is responsible for monitoring the patient, ensuring the regular flow of blood throughout the body. It can be too fast, too slow. Drop by drop, she has to watch the transfusion of the precious liquid – the right kind of blood, since the wrong one is also a true poison to one’s system. And poison only begets poison. Poisoning the already toxic environment gets all more poison. Poison is no silver bullet to fix the sick system, and therefore by no possibility can poison cure poison. Poison has but one single significance: it’s an agent of either death or disease. And those who swallow the poison and still recover, do so despite both the drugs and the deadly disease.

Maybe Marx was right in his reiteration of the famous opium-metaphor, where he compared the drug’s analgesic efficacy to a pain-killing medication, which, however, does not cure any organic disease; that is, it does not relieve the whole system (organism and environment) of its intrinsic toxicity. And in fact, opium does not cure anything at all, it merely masks alarming symptoms and allows a system to go on functioning for yet another day. But Mother Nature, in her ‘gracious’ bounty, has scattered everywhere a direct antidote for any poison; likewise, a beautiful, healthy, and pleasant state can only be recovered by nature, in accordance with the old Latin dictum: “The doctor treats, but nature heals” (Lat., ‘medicus curat, natura sanat’). In this regard, sociomedicine should serve as handmaiden to nature – the ‘doctor’ and active agent in the restoration [re-(cover)-y] of health; sociomedical support can, therefore, do no more than ‘clean’ and remove surface dirt and blood seeping from the wound, reinforce or strengthen the power of nature when faint, moderate her when vicious and violent, and conduct her when she is inclined to rampant lawlessness. In fact, practically all vital functions of a (social) system have an innate tendency to return to their ‘normal’ condition, when left to themselves, and the integral organism and environment, when wholly balanced, keep everything in harmony. The so-called “silver bullet” solution takes no part in the recovery. No advancement can be made on the ‘sick industry’ in this respect.


LOVE — an Etymological and Mythological Approach

For several years now, but especially since the 1990s, the ‘love for love’ – both the reality of it and the idea(l) of it, has steadily been gaining momentum among all strata of society. In this section, therefore, let us explore the origin and meaning of the word ‘love,’ and do so in an unconventional manner. First, interchanging its third letter V with W (as is often done; witness ‘vin’ and ‘wine’) proposes a notion of similarity between ‘to love’ and ‘to lowe’ – the latter being an alternative Scottish expression for flame or ‘to flame/fire’ (OED, Johnson), respectively. If so, then ‘being in love’ would literally mean ‘being in flames,’ or ‘being a [new] flame’ in someone’s life. Likewise, the similar formal properties of ‘love,’ or, the Old English ‘luf,’ and ‘life’ as well as the concepts they express (i.e., heat/health and existence) can each be traced back to the same primal source point (or ‘seed point’). In the same vein, we may include other terms such as the Latin ‘œstas’ (summer) or ‘œstus’ (heat) in the same linear formula (definition) – while, simultaneously, their root ‘œs’ is also equal to the Hebrew ‘ēsh,’ or alternatively ‘as,’ meaning fire. For example, the country’s name “AZərbaycan” – Persian for ‘protector of fire’ – could just as well have been translated into ‘protector of love,’ figuratively and literally; in fact, Persian poets (nearly all of them mystics, unlike their ‘purist’ Arab counterparts) were certainly not unaware of this connection when they compared that which cannot be compared (apples and oranges, as we say). Yet they did…

Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that love as well as the etymological source point – and all its possible semantic constructions operating along encoded trajectories (I call them ‘trajectory seeds,’ but more of this later) – occupied a core area in the poetico-religious modes of thought of Azerbaijani-Iranian (Persian) literary worlds, symbolized, inter alia, by Zarathustra’s fire or the ‘eternal flames’ that were venerated, not only among the Zoroastrians, near Bakı (Baku). Indeed, ‘culinary’ metaphors were often used, so there was very seldom any Persian (or Arabic, or Ottoman) poem that did not transform the heart into ‘kabāb’ (fire-roasted meat), or the love-poisoned blood into ‘lāl-sharāb’ (red wine). It is not by accident, then, that the Persian mythical bird Sīmurġ (Phoenix) with its “brilliant” blue, red, and green feathers, consuming itself in fire, before rising from the ‘ashes’ [see also: Roman ‘ash’ or Hebrew ‘ēsh,’ which equals love; – thus, the Firebird dies and rises in love] again, is so prevalent in the Caucasus and Central Asia, if not all. And what is Phoenix (or ‘Phenix’) but another name for Venus [as Φ is equal to F, V, or PH], the goddess of love, who, too, ‘rises’ up from the sea, from foam; while it seems worthy of note that the foam Venus had risen from is just an alternative term for ‘froth,’ which cannot possibly differ from ‘broth’ (from B and F interchanging; witness English ‘brother’ and Latin ‘frāter’) – the flame-broiled stock of a ‘soup,’ the latter being a linguistic and conceptual metaphor for the ‘soul’ (or Sole).

In order to prove that the above derivation is logically sound, one simply needs to translate the English ‘soul’ into French, where it means ‘âme’ – the root part of ‘amour’ (love) or the Latin ‘amór’ (otherwise known as Cupído), the god of love. Therefore, it becomes obvious that ‘apples and oranges’ can indeed be compared: in fact, they share many properties, anyway. – So does love, as it is able to synergistically combine linguistic and conceptual structures, which are ultimately not as far apart as they might seem at first glance. In medieval French, for instance, the Latin ‘amór’ once signified both ‘amour’ (love) and ‘amitié’ (friendship), or ‘ami[e]’ (friend), but while the former idea was called after the ‘soul,’ the latter draws a specific connection to forms [from Latin ‘forma’ (beauty), as well as ‘formus’ (warm); for warm blood produces beauty] and formal features, such as the face. However, there is a difference between the concept of the soul/love and an Aristotelian friendship-love (agapé), as much as there is a linguistic difference between ‘to love’ and ‘to like,’ since the second was called after the ‘image’ [see also: Latin ‘imago’ (imitation [of love]) and German ‘mögen’ (to like)], and ‘look-likeness,’ so to say. In some ways, the conceptual framework of Aristotle’s theory of friendship could have only been developed because of love’s inherent “trajectory seeds.” – The radical part of friend, ‘fri,’ which is also the root of “FRIday” – or ‘to fry’ – leads to the derivation of the name Frøjya (Northern Venus), the fiery goddess of love.

LOVE — “Laylī and Majnūn” Meets “Romeo and Juliet”

Some of these “seeds” still live on in Islamic mysticism, where the ‘scarlet light’ [see also: Persian ‘azər’ (brilliant red, flame-colored veil/flammeum)], for instance, plays a more important part in establishing a thematic metaphor (majāz) of the ‘acute yearning and burning desire’ to unite with the reality of the Divine, the reality (ḥaqīqa) of LOVE [here: Soul, devoid of any romantic aspect; hence in capital letters] – the so-called “Ḥaqīqa,” point of origin and final goal –, which can be well observed in Niẓāmī’s famous work “Laylī and Majnūn,” a precursor to the Western “Romeo and Juliet.” Though conveyed in a rather veiled manner where pre-eternal (qadīm) beauty in created forms is purposefully concealed [see also: ‘iltibās,’ meaning “becoming clothed”], Azəri poetry (e.g., Nasīmī) which grew out of the “seeds” of its previous line of Persian poets, such as Niẓāmī (1141-1209), located the ultimate source of compassion and mercy [raḥma; witness the homophony with ‘raḥim’ (womb)] in the Unity of the Solitaire (tauḥīd): “Everything is the beloved, and the lover a veil; living is the beloved, and the lover is dead” (Schimmel). Following Rūzbihān’s mystical flights, that is, meditations on the inner fire (Tibetan: gtummo; Sanskrit: caṇḍālī), the lover Laylī – a lady with night-dark hair, Snow White’s prototype, and a representation of “Maryah” (the Lord) – draws an ever-widening circle of her love, encompassing even the farthest shore of her Divine Beloved (“Alaha” or God), Majnūn, who is akin to certain Ṣūfīs assuming ‘mad’ behaviors.

Of course, Majnūn/Qays, the son of a wealthy Arab family, becomes a ‘roaming’ mendicant acting like a madman or MAJNŪN, after he had been denied permission to marry his lady-love Laylī (who is forced into a marriage with the rich merchant ‘Ward,’ instead); – owning his ‘name’ to the Zoroastrians (called MĀJŪS). It seems quite obvious to me, however, that Qays-Majnūn’s love-rival ‘Ward’ – which is Arabic for “rose” – is but a Jungian type of fragment, typical for “symbol characters,” of his own. After all, the Red Rose is venerated as the materialization of God’s glory in Islamic mysticism (Muḥammad); it is the ornate vision of “clouds of roses” – an analogy of the Divine Presence – as described by Rūzbihān Baqlī, which is a revelation of beauty or the vision of love [here: form, appearing purposefully romantic; thus in lowercase letters]. Even today, it is common to give red roses on Valentine’s Day. While, at the same time, Qays-Majnūn – the other side of the same coin – could just as well be portrayed as a ‘nightingale,’ ‘singing’ his poems in praise of ‘divine LOVE’ (‘ishq-e haqīqī), which is the soul. Qays’ poetry, therefore, becomes the prime example of a prototype Azəri “muğam,” a trance-like meditative musical style. The countless roses and nightingales in Persian miniature art, almost always shown together, are a ghostly remnant of this mystical connection between form-rose and soul-bird, and it is the former ‘metaphoric love’ (‘ishq-e majāzī) which foretells a forceless force that “moves the sun and the other stars” (Dante).

Which leads us to the next pair of ‘star-crossed’ lovers: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. – Or are they? Shakespeare, very probably a Rosicrucian himself, re-introduces the mystical rose imagery in the form of Rosaline (‘fair rose’) – interestingly enough, an invisible, mute character – into his medieval play. In contrast to conventional interpretations, it is she, and not Juliet (the Damsel/“Talitha”), who takes the central position, creating intercrossing concentric circles that radiate from the original hard core, until she is uprooted (from the middle point – Romeo’s heart) and forcefully exiled to faraway shores, while Romeo, who is either a Romantic, a Roman citizen (or the empire itself), or a Roamer, that is, a ‘pilgrim’ (which is also the meaning of his name; thus, making him a linguistic doppelgänger and ghostly double of the beggar-mendicant Majnūn), quickly forgets his First Love, thereby ending his madly melancholic pilgrimage upon arrival at the masked ball. Throughout the whole play, Shakespeare deliberately takes up a mocking attitude towards the medieval concept of courtly love by making a farce out of this affair between a Neoplatonic Eros and an ever-annoying damsel in distress, mantra-like reciting her endless, meaningless torrent of words of love (whatever these terms may be). – So is that what has become of us because of this love; or what has become of LOVE itself: a bland ‘Renaissance’ ornament as well as a decadent product of erotic symbolism – an empty container, an empty shell made of pure nothing?

LOVE — Isolation/Insulation and Solitary Confinement

Indeed, it has. Blissfully unaware of the looming doom, we continue down this primrose path, just like Romeo before us. – But let’s not go that way, and instead take a look at today’s design, art, and fashion markets, which may seem like a big leap at first glance, yet they also bear direct reference to the ‘form’ love has taken in our times – most prominently expressed by the now-iconic heart shape, and how the latter came to inhabit the space the “soul” left out? There are two things to know about contemporary fashion (or art): first, it is ugly; and second, it has nothing important to say whatsoever. Yet, somehow, these two ‘qualities’ have been elevated to the highest pinnacle of beauty and wisdom in our collective understanding. Viktor&Rolf’s spring 2019 haute couture collection, titled ‘Fashion Statements,’ serves as a perfect example of how shallow, and totally uncreative, slogans crudely plastered over the already hideous ‘dresses’ (among them a “GET MEAN” within a frilly heart, and a “GO F*CK YOURSELF” spread over three clipart-like hearts, because why not?) are celebrated as great intellectual expressions; while the audience is taking photos like there’s no tomorrow. Prada’s eccentric fall 2019 men’s collection is in no way inferior to them; an array of (unlovely) hearts, roses, and fluffy bits of ‘fur’ in various shades, which seems to be a favorite with them, as well as some other quite outlandish ‘fashion’ items for the inhabitants of – I don’t know – Mars, give us a glimpse of hell. But fashion is not the only voice of…

The rest of the essay is not included in this preview. For more information on topics such as Azərbaycan, Niẓāmī, Laylī and Majnūn, Muğam, etc., please contact me through the address mentioned below.


Sometimes there is a kind of a lucky coincidence (just like in the following subject matter) that the title, or rather its discussion, provides a very satisfying approach to the aesthetic reflection on current design trends. So as far as the latter is concerned, I would love to address the topics of beauty and health with greater depth of analysis. Although the importance of these traits may appear to be fully convincing at first glance, their (equal) value fails to be conclusive, since there is always the danger of prioritizing, or ranking, one over the other: So, while “descriptive” principles of health would primarily include factors such as functionality and representative organization systems (one need only think about the common creative design of contemporary first-aid kits), the dominating feature in postmodernist aesthetics and the understanding of these is an at least implicit pursuit of perfection of mere “sensory illusion” (Hegel) – even though beauty need not be necessarily complete. In a manner of the pearl which – in a state of sickness and disease – can only be formed from a foreign body (grain of sand or some parasite) entering the shell and causing an irritation in the soft tissues of the animal; and thus, sickness and the ‘aesthetic’ often go hand in hand. In other words, those who (mistakenly) categorize contemporary design merely as applied practice, almost never define it – much less clarify it – by its intrinsic value and purpose, but rather by one of its means. How then can we impose health, which reveals its true nature in the hidden obscurity of its existence, and beauty, which becomes best visible through its ‘refracted’ Self, as highest standards for ourselves? Through the search for a greater purpose (generally in life, and particularly in design); since thereby unique creative work will be brought more closely into alignment with the literal understanding of “Healing Arts,” which express themselves in a ‘holistic’ approach to design and ethics. But, in spite of this whole health and beauty mania, we should not forget that of all things it is first and foremost “new life,” which presents itself as a malicious virus from outer space, threatening to destroy our objectified bodily existence, thus initiating some much-needed recovery.


«Aφrasiya Style» — Azərbaycan Between East and West

When Prometheus steals fire from Olympus, Zeus condemns him to ceaseless punishment by chaining the thief of fire to the summit of Mount Caucasus where his tortured liver repeatedly grows back after being preyed upon by vultures each day. Prometheus “gifts” humanity with fire, and through the tears of the highland and mountain peoples (probably Caucasian Scythians), we obtain a fleeting glimpse of their appreciation. This story tells us much about the most important gift to civilization, and its blessed recipients. After all, the ever-burning Olympian fire is not just heat and flame, but also the heart (spirit) and the source of light (soul), for since antiquity fire was a sign of God’s elusive presence, which is why it was so ardently worshipped by Zoroastrians in Azərbaycan and Iran. Azərbaycan – the “land of fire,” the “keeper of the flame,” as its name implies, became a destination for pilgrimages to the fire’s ‘place of origin,’ especially because of sites such as Yanar Dağ (literally “burning mountain”) and the “eternal flame” at the Zoroastrian Atəşgah (fire temple) near Bakı (Baku). Maybe it was this “legacy” of the gift that prompted me to take a small flame from this infinite fire, and pass it on to contemporary societies; and, even though Azərbaycan’s fire is full of life, the country’s otherworldly landscapes are remarkably tranquil realms. As quietly as red autumn leaves snatched by a gust of wind, pieces of Bakı’s memories fall to the ground each day … in a silent display of the city’s tug of war between the old and the new.

Memory and time are two important themes in Azərbaycan’s collective identity – they are “unyielding phenomena” (Vahabova) that facilitate the unification of the East and the West, the “left and the right, the conformists and non-conformists, the archaists and innovators, here and now, at the present point at the present time,” which enables art to build bridges within the Eurasian worlds of the 21st century, by establishing closer bonds between “geo-cultural mentalities” of the Orient and the Occident, North and South. Concerning time, art critic Taymus Daimi maintains that following both paths gives modern cultures a chance to feed “on the invisible spiritual emanations of the historical past,” be it the ancient art of Gobustan, carpet design, or miniature painting on which Azərbaycan’s forms of visual expression are based. Their legacy of fire and ‘environmental mosaics’ – the country’s lush vegetation and flowing waters as symbol of aquatic luxury, delicious food and abundant fruit, ornate colorful carpets, glorious music, gardens and pavilions – manifest in many different ways: a ‘palette’ of brilliant deep colors; the flight to fantasy, where reality is transformed into (1) distorted/tilted, or (2) formally precise and exact geometric abstractions. As exhibition project “Azəri Modern” tries to offer a representative panoramic of a state-of-the-art Azərbaycan of the 21st century, while at the same time showing a rather nostalgic vision of the Bakı of my childhood with a special appeal to national (classical) myths and old legends.

The «Supăsuit» — Back to the Future of Azərbaycan

Until the late 20th century, ‘socialist realism’ remained the predominant style for Soviet art. The result, following Daimi, was the fabrication of a “hermetic,” isolated and sealed-off artistic expression, as well as a particular spiritual sterilization that he further defines as the “iron curtain factor.” Bakı today is a free-spirited city looking forward to the future, rather than establishing itself as a ‘shrouded, hermetic enclave.’ New open spaces arise from the battle between conformity and individualism (and, thus, the city constantly changes, evolves, and tries to ignite the sparks of innovation); an ‘Instant City’ no longer prevails. The city of Bakı acts like a second skin or ‘make-up’ for its denizens: it can be put on and taken off again. Thus, the link between environment/habitation and clothing/body becomes closer, dwelling and bodysuit fuse into a single median unit – the ambiguity of “clothed nakedness,” a ‘body make-up’ (see also Rudi Gernreich) which responds to the outside world (e.g., light, temperature, humidity, etc.) and allows for freedom in all isolation. At the core of this project lies the vision of an urban warrior in a classic yet future-oriented Azərbaycanı unisex suit of armor [“Supăsuit” – a Mavorswenera® original], which does not serve defensive purposes, but instead highlights a connection between habitation and the inhabitants of Bakı and Azərbaycan. – My conclusion is that in a time of religio-political imbalances, modern Azərbaycan and Caucasus present a rare opportunity for international (cultural) collaboration.

The State Flag:

The “Multicoloredness” (Pleochroism) of Azərbaycan

The color blue here represents infinity (∞), mercy (raḥma), and the all-encompassing ocean (Al-Qāmūs al-muḥīṭ), which is, in fact, second only to the all-surrounding sky (samāʾ), whose hue it takes on. Since blue is generally considered negative in the Muslim world, one tends to use the term “azure” (sapphire blue, turquoise) when describing all these shifting, shimmering colors of the sea, such as, for example, the Caspian Sea. In contrast to the coolness and freshness one can feel by running one’s hands through the water, “gules” (or ruby red) draws an obvious connection to the heat of Zarathustra’s fire that will “one day kindle the light of the future” (Nietzsche). But it also refers to the color of blood, velvet roses, wine, freshly plucked apples and pomegranates, rosy cheeks, and the “fiery hearts” of the Caucasians, which became a favorite topic among Persian poets. The color red bears witness to beauty (jamāl) and “love” (hubb) of the heart that has been transformed into a precious ruby of incalculable value through patience, openness, and compassion. Simultaneously, the now-famous Islamic “vert” (emerald green) is reminiscent of the “tree of life,” Azərbaycan’s lush vegetation, Bakı’s luxurious parks, often in explicit reference to the ideal picture of a paradisiacal garden. In Sufism, the ‘visio smaragdina’ – “the outburst of green” – represents a specific level of spiritual growth, while the light from the “Emerald Mountain” (Najm al-Dīn Kubrā) that lies even beyond the luminous black symbolizes God and Eternal Life itself.