Taus Makhacheva explores the resilience of images, objects and bodies.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
The new edition of Artist’s Rooms at Jameel Arts Centre is ending its course (Oct. 30, 2021 – May 7). It features a site-specific installation by Samson Young. Reasonable Music is an interactive environment consisting of text as sound and as image. The elements of Reasonable Music are derived from translating the Daoist text Daodejing. Its computational analysis is filtered to generate a network of sonic and visual objects. They are transformed, distorted and take on new features, as they run through a chain of events.
Artist’s Rooms: Samson Young is accompanied by a monograph with an essay by Orianna Cacchione, Curator of Global Contemporary Art, Smart Museum of Art, at the University of Chicago. It is published by Art Jameel and is available from the Art Jameel Shop.
Reasonable Music is commissioned by Art Jameel in collaboration with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and Burger Collection. Each venue shows an iteration of the work: one is on display at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India, and the other at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai, till the close. Multidisciplinary artist Young (b. 1979, Hong Kong; lives and works in Hong Kong) works in sound, performance, video and installation. In 2017, he represented Hong Kong at the 57th Venice Biennale. In 2020, he was awarded the inaugural Sigg Prize.
His works are in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and Kadist, San Francisco. Drawn largely from the Art Jameel Collection, Artist’s Rooms is a series of solo exhibitions by influential and innovative artists, with a particular focus on practitioners from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. They are collaborative and curated in dialogue with the artist. Also, Taus Makhacheva: A Space of Celebration (Feb. 23 – Aug. 14) is being hosted by the Centre. It is Makhacheva’s first retrospective exhibition in the Middle East, bringing together works created over the past thirteen years, including a new site-specific commission.
Makhacheva revisits and retells complex histories through a cast of characters and objects, including her alter ego, Super Taus. Her humorous and contextually grounded installations involve flawed gymnastics training arenas, Soviet-era circuses, wedding halls and suspended mountain ranges. In her works, facts meld with everyday myths, troubling the notion of authenticity and making way for the fantastical. She mixes light-hearted tales with the uncanny and the unexpected - and occasionally with incommensurable tragedy.
Much of her stories emerge out of the North Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, specifically the Republic of Dagestan. Over the course of her career, she has looked at the making and remaking of history and heritage, as the region was undergoing its post-Soviet reconstruction.
A Space of Celebration brings together works from 2009 to the present, making visible the ensemble of practitioners Makhacheva has collaborated with. Charivari (2019) looks at the visual culture of the Caucasus through its circuses, bringing about spectacle, wonder and fantasies of the future.
Quantitative Infinity of the Objective (2019) uses the setting of a training gym, in which control is asserted through language and brings about ways of resisting constrictive social codes. In Seismic Jitters (2020), missing objects recount their own stories of absence and disappearance, resisting dominant narratives.
Superhero Sighting Society (with Sabih Ahmed, 2019) introduces a cacophony of voices from all over the world which attest to superhero sightings. In Makhacheva’s works, languages and voices often overlap, setting the stage for plural and complex tales, where the truth always resides in the grey zone.
She was born in 1983 in Moscow, and creates works that explore the restless connections between historical narratives and fictions of cultural authenticity. Often humourous, her art considers the resilience of images, objects and bodies emerging out of stories and personal experiences.
Her methodology involves the reworking of materials, landscapes and monuments, pushing against walls, opening up ceilings and proliferating institutional spaces with a cacophony of voices. Working primarily with video but also with installation, photography and performance, she questions the unstable boundary between similarity and difference, acceptance and rejection, and draws attention to the efforts to merge, mimic and assimilate.
She is a Russian artist based in Moscow, and is the granddaughter of Rasul Gamzatov – poet, author, journalist and political activist and is known predominantly for her performance and video works that critically examine what happens when different cultures and traditions come into contact with one another.
Having grown up in Moscow with cultural origins in the Caucasus region of Dagestan, her artistic practice is informed by this personal connection with the co-existing worlds of pre and post-Sovietisation.
Oftentimes humorous, her works attempt to test the resilience of images, objects and bodies in today’s world. She asks what actually remains from her country’s past and how and in what forms it has been reintroduced into everyday life as part of the struggle to find a new identity for the country and its different ethnic groups.
She is included in the list of the Best contemporary Russian artists (ARTEEX), and also in the Russian Investment Art Rating 49ART. Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the P. S. Gamzatova Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts, Makhachkala; KADIST, Paris and San Francisco; Moscow Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp; Pushkin Museum, Moscow; Sharjah Art Foundation; Tate Modern, London; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.