Rena Effendi, recipient of a Documentary Photography Project Production Grant, documented environmental degradation and its effects on communities along the Absheron Peninsula, home to over half of Azerbaijan’s population and for over a century the main center of Azerbaijan’s onshore oil production. Due to environmental mismanagement and contamination caused by industrial, agricultural, and petroleum-related production, this area has become the most polluted area in Azerbaijan and one of the most polluted regions in the world. According to a 2001 UN report, the country's wildlife and vegetation has been seriously compromised with nearly 40 species of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles endangered or near extinction.
For her project, Effendi pairs her photographs with images of butterflies that were taken by her late father, who was a butterfly biologist at the Azerbaijan Institute of Zoology. By juxtaposing the fragile beauty of the butterflies with the places and people affected by environmental degradation, Effendi aims to draw attention to the vulnerability of the natural world and the consequences of its destruction.