Staff picks: Saodat Ismailova

Staff picks: Saodat Ismailova



Clip from Saodat Ismailova, Her Five Lives, 2020.

November 1, 2021
Staff picks: Saodat Ismailova
November 1–30, 2021
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e-flux Video & Film is very pleased to present the November 2021 edition of Staff Picks, highlighting three shorts by Saodat Ismailova, one of the most accomplished representatives of a new generation of moving-image artists from Central Asia. The Haunted (2017), an intimate video letter to the spirit of the extinct Turan tiger, which disappeared from Central Asia in the 20th century; and Her Right (2020) and Her Five Lives (2020) which were both made by the artist during the pandemic, using found footage to poetically recount the history of Uzbekistan as well as reconsider representational politics of the Uzbek cinema, told through the images of women.

The films will stream on e-flux Video & Film from Novmeber 1-30. Watch them here.

The Haunted, 2017
23 minutes
The Turan tiger, a majestic symbol of the Central Asian landscape, has been extinct for several decades, but it lives on as a sacred symbol in the collective imagination of the local population. In her captivating film essay, Ismailova pays homage to this animal as she shows how firmly bound it is, in people’s minds, to the region’s history. The tiger is a spectre that emerges from the darkness and disappears again, the landscape is like a network of ruins buried under layers of the past. The collage of visual and audio fragments, accompanied by the filmmaker’s passionate commentary, shows that “real” history cannot be separated from shared ideas and dreams.

Her Right, 2020
14 minutes
Her Right, whose title is inspired by the silent film Uzbekkino (1931, dir. G. Cherniak), is a film recalling the political campaign Hujum (attack) undertaken by the Communist Party to emancipate and unveil women in Uzbekistan. The opening text of the film, written in old Uzbek (Arabic alphabet), translates as follows: “The Hujum movement was a Soviet political campaign started in 1924. It aimed to liberate local women. The campaign had dramatic consequences for Uzbek women, who were caught between traditional society and foreign state ideas. The film is dedicated to the memory of the women who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Uzbek women today.”

Her Five Lives, 2020
13 minutes
The modern history of Uzbekistan is told through its cinematic history, focusing on the evolution of female heroine archetypes in Uzbek films.

About the artist 
Saodat Ismailova (b. 1981, Tashkent) is a filmmaker and artist who came of age in the post-Soviet era in Central Asia. She graduated from Tashkent State Art Institute in Uzbekistan and Le Fresnoy, National Studio of Contemporary Arts in France. Her films and video installations have been presented in the Biennale of Venice, Berlinale International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, CPH DOX, Centre Pompidou (Paris), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), and Parasite (Hong Kong). Her stage work has appeared at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music, Musée de quai Branly (Paris), and other venues around the world. Ismailova’s work will be presented in documenta fifteen, 2022. Her works are in the collections of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

About the series 
e-flux Video & Film: staff picks is a monthly streaming series of staff picks and recommended videos designed to disrupt the monotony of an algorithm. Before the end times of big data, we used to discover suggested content along dusty shelves in video rental stores, where Post-it notes scribbled by shift workers implored us to experience the same movies that made them guffaw, scream, or weep. Sometimes the content bored us, sometimes it overwhelmed us, and sometimes, as if by magic, it was just right. e-flux invites you to relive this rental store mode of perusal, with personalized picks curated through judgment that does not take into consideration your viewing history. 

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November 1, 2021

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