December 5, 2008
Artist on the run By Sergey Chernov
Artist and poet Babi Badalov feels that his life is threatened both in his home country Azerbaijan and in Russia because of his politically conscious art and because he is openly gay. Growing nationalism and increasing attacks on people from the former Soviet republics also means that Russia is not entirely safe for someone from Azerbaijan. Badalov thought he had found a new home in Cardiff, Wales, where he had been based since December 2006, but earlier this year the U.K.’s Home Office denied his application for political asylum.
“[In Britain] I mixed with many people who applied for asylum—Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, people from all over the world. We went to the Refugee Council together, lived at the hotel together. There is such a word used there—‘chance,’” Badalov said during a recent phone interview from Helsinki, Finland.
“You never know what will happen, everybody says it’s all up to ‘chance,’ that it’s a ‘lottery.’ You can have a solid case and still be denied asylum. Some other person can come [to the U.K.] just for the hell of it and receive [asylum].”
Badalov, who was one of the best-known artists in the St. Petersburg independent art scene centered at the Pushkinskaya 10 art squat in the 1990s, recently spent several weeks in the city, en route to Western Europe from Baku, Azerbaijan. While in town, he opened an exhibition of his work called “The Persian Ambassador,” which runs through December 28. Continue reading