|Cranking some film on vacation in Sardinia, 2016. (Photo by Nina.)|
(Read the first here: "Who Am I? Confessions of a Global Citizen" and the second here: "The Year of Throwing Bricks: A Globalist's View of 2016, and the Way Forward")
It would be hard to classify the wider world's 2016 as anything other than an annus horribilis, but this blog—and my creative projects in general—certainly enjoyed many bright moments during the past year.
More than anything, this was the year I gained new appreciation for video as a medium for story-telling. It all started with a friend's suggestion to submit a few photos to Khalf Essoura (meaning "Behind the Image" in Arabic). This program's short clips feature local photographers describing their favorite images; one clip airs each night on Algeria's state-run ENTV, just before the prime-time national newscast. Back in the spring, at a cramped studio in downtown Algiers I recorded descriptions of four of my favorite Rolleicord shots from Algeria. Two of these were broadcast in the following months:
Khalf essoura: épisode 71
Un Touareg portugais
Un épisode de Andrew Farrand
Posted by Khalf Essoura on Friday, May 13, 2016
Khalf essoura : épisode 98 Andrew
Casbah d'Alger, souvenirs, originalité et histoire
Un épisode de Andrew Farrand
قصبة الجزائر ذكريات, أصالة و تاريخ
Posted by Khalf Essoura on Wednesday, July 27, 2016
The modest online buzz over an American describing his photos in Algerian Arabic caught the attention of the team at Allaqta productions, who saw the potential for something much greater. They contacted me in the summer and soon got to work producing the video that would really mark my year: "An American In Love with Algeria". (Read the full behind-the-scenes story here.)
After the intense interest (1.2 million views and counting!) generated by that video, Allaqta followed it up with a second one: "Who Is Andrew?" This in turn led to invitations to give a TED-style talk at a major local youth conference in Algiers (video coming soon) and interviews on France's TV5 Monde and Algeria's Echourouk News TV.
If 2015 was the first year someone recognized me on the street and approached to ask if I was indeed "that Ibn Ibn Battuta guy," thanks to these videos 2016 was the year when such encounters grew commonplace (though they certainly still don't feel "normal").
But I didn't just spend 2016 in front of the cameras. Early in the year I submitted contributions (a story and photo) to the Uncommon Algiers guidebook, which went on sale worldwide in August. My "Haïk Selfie" photo was also selected for exhibition at the "Traversées Africaines" festival in Paris and the FotoIstanbul 2016 festival in Istanbul.
I was also featured in several articles:
- "Andrew Farrand: The Man Behind the Blog and Instagram Account Ibn Ibn Battuta", Afropé (in Swedish)
- "Six Instagram Accounts to Visit Algeria", IntyMag (in French)
- "I Photograph Algeria with a Camera Dating from the '50s", El Watan (in French)
- "These Foreigners in Love with Algeria", IntyMag (in French)
All the while, behind the scenes I was quietly chipping away at the largest project I have ever undertaken: translating the memoirs of an Algerian freedom fighter from French to English, in order to help her share her story with the English-speaking world. I submitted my text in November, and the English edition is slated for publication in fall 2017—stay tuned for details!
Sadly, amid all this activity I found less time than I had hoped for taking photos or sharing my usual reflections from my travels and from daily life in Algeria. Which is not to say that I didn't travel; stories and photographs from trips to Sardinia, Portugal, and Mallorca are coming soon!
No doubt, 2016 has been a surreal year. In 2017, I'm looking forward to my "15 minutes of Algerian fame" quietly fading away. With a little less stardom and fewer TV appearances, I hope to once more focus on business as usual here on the blog.
Thank you to all my readers, near and far. Safe travels to you all in the New Year!