July 8, 2019 - YARAT Contemporary Art Space - Taus Makhacheva: Charivari / Zadie Xa: Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation
July 8, 2019

YARAT Contemporary Art Space

[1] National Circus (still), 1967. Courtesy Krasnogorsk Film Archive. [2] Zadie Xa, Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation (still), 2019. HD video, film. Courtesy the artist.

Taus Makhacheva: Charivari
Zadie Xa: Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation
July 12–September 29, 2019

YARAT Contemporary Art Space
AZ AZ1003 Baku
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm

T +994 12 505 14 14

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Taus Makhacheva—whose varied practice includes performance, film, food and objects—presents an interactive multimedia installation, exploring Caucasus’ contemporaneity through newly commissioned work dedicated to the history of USSR circus tradition in general, and the Baku State Сircus in particular, in collaboration with architect Maria Serova, writer Alexander Snegirev and costume designer Panika Derevya. Despite being a mainstream entertainment, the Soviet Circus provided a comparatively censorship-free environment in which the boldest and most daring statements could be made by means of visual and physical language. Combining fact and fiction, the work uncovers the ever-fluctuating relationship between tradition, modernity and cultural authenticity in this period of transition from the Soviet to post-Soviet paradigm, through to the multiple futures of the post-post-Soviet era. 

The term charivari refers to a specific circus act—a mass circus performance composed of solo and group multi-genre pieces presented simultaneously. With every act the rhythm gets faster and the technical complexity of the performance increases, as if artists were competing—showing off their comic talent and ingenuity, their skill, liveliness and temper—until ultimately the circus ring becomes full of floating and somersaulting figures. 

Based on archival records, films and photographs from the Baku National Archive, Makhacheva’s installation similarly creates a chaotic make-believe circus full of unusual creatures: a talking horse, synthetic bears, a sheep inside a gymnast inside a lion, a strongwoman-accountant and a fly in a silver cape, to name a few. Inviting the viewer to ponder on a human-animal pyramid, a circus-arena birth, a VR act and many more fantastical encounters—the show acts as a witty and often controversial socio-political commentary; through stories from distant pasts and near futures, Makhacheva comments on the all too real circus of contemporary life.  

This exhibition is curated by Suad Garayeva-Maleki, Artistic Director, YARAT
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Showcasing a major new multimedia project, Zadie Xa creates a sub-aquatic marine environment, inviting audiences to enter into an immersive world by way of atmospheric lighting, surround-sound, large-scale video projections, sculptures and costumes. This work is a co-commission with Art Night, London (22 June), Tramway, Glasgow (October 26-December 16) and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill (February 1–May 4, 2020). The work was concieved by Zadie Xa with her husband and collaborator Benito Mayor Vallejo.

At YARAT, Xa brings together imagined and learned Korean folklore, transforming diasporic knowledge into new realities. Within her immersive world, she presents an origin story inspired by Korean creation myths, centered on the giant goddess Grandmother Mago (Magohalmi). Exploring the passing down of ancestral knowledge through the matrilineal social structures that are based on the separation of responsibilities between male and female deities in the creation of the universe, the work confronts the goddesses’ shift in cultural status over time, from central to marginal.

Throughout her practice, Xa uses water and marine ecologies as metaphors for exploring the unknown, whilst also alluding to abstract notions of homeland, having grown up on the west coast of Canada. Often creating fantastical underwater realms, the exhibition features a large-scale, surround-sound video projection of the ocean, and a pod of orcas—a theme which is then revisited in a series of sculptures. The final element of the exhibition is comprised of costumes and masks originally used by the artist during performances at ArtNight 2019 and the 58th Venice Biennale, now presented as sculptures at YARAT. 

The work is enhanced by a public programme of performances by early career local artists, selected in partnership with Xa. These performances will take place within the exhibition space.  

This exhibition is curated by Helen Nisbet, Artistic Director, Art Night with Art Night Associate Curator Amy Budd. Performance programme is curated by Anna Fech, Curator, YARAT

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Zadie Xa
Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation
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