“Beauty All Over My Skin:” Music in the Alleys of Sovetski

In late 2013, filmmaker Vincent Moon visited Azerbaijan to create a documentary about the country’s traditional music, the places that gave birth to it, and the culture surrounding it. After traveling through the region, he arrived in Baku to record some of the country’s biggest mugam and ashik stars and to hold a screening at the Yug Theater of some of his previous work. When checking out the theater before the screening, Vincent fell in love with the twisting backstreets of Sovetski that stretched out in contrast to the strict planning of artifice of places like Targova and the bulvar. When Salavan–the next group he was filming–arrived, he decided to record them right there in the alley’s of Sovetski.


These were the last few months before the current redevelopment plan started, when Sovetski was still full of life. The houses around this alley were some of the first places to be torn down a year later, and visiting this site today you’ll find the first signs of the major new road being built through the neighborhood.

Vincent’s videos are unique to Mehelle in that they weren’t recorded with the redevelopment project in mind. They offer a pure window into the recent past, and like a lost photo or an old family movie one hunts the frame to see what was captured by accident. Showing the videos to a former resident this summer he paused and showed his old home in caught in the corner for just a few frames.

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