Ibn Ibn Battuta's 2016 in Review

Saturday, December 31, 2016 | Algiers, Algeria (map)

Cranking some film on vacation in Sardinia, 2016. (Photo by Nina.)
In my personal life as in the wider world, 2016 was a year that demanded reflection and reevaluation of many once-firm truths. The third of a trio of year-end posts:

(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
ترقي برتغالي
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:
All this publicity brought a much-increased following. This year my audience grew roughly four-fold on both Facebook and Instagram, approaching 10,000 followers on each platform. (One might imagine that such a bump would translate into increased "Algeria 2017" calendar sales, but alas...)

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!

1 comment:

Rayane said...

It's almost 2 o'clock in the morning now, everyone is slipping, and i'm like this computer geek stearing at my phone with passion,i want to sleep but I just can't somthing keeps attracting me to read more.
Vraiment chapeau sur tout ce que vous avez accompli l'année passée j'ai jamais vu les épisodes khalf el soura. C'est vraiment intéressant.
J'ai une dernière chose à vous dire, continuez à prendre des photos de l'algerie et montrez les au monde. Parceque notre pays est vraiment beau... Je crois qu'il n'a pas de chance c'est tout :'(.et merci... Thank you...شكرا ...gracias!...

Post a Comment