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We're a team of eight artists, curators and critics with a broader network of art professionals on the post-soviet, post-communist and diasporic spaces. With our ability to grasp, to describe and to invert the sensable, we might be your best collaborator.

How to contact us

Mission

 

TransitoryWhite is a journal of overlapping, multi-voiced accounts documenting peripheral artistic productions.

The project was launched in 2017 by a group of curators, art specialists and artists from Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia living in Berlin/Vienna. 

We aimed to create an intersectional platform for discussing decolonization, post-neoliberalism trauma and the possibility of dispersive views on the so-called post-communist territories.

Since 2019, the platform has also operated in the trajectories of migrant and post-displacement discourse, expanding its activities from the geographical pole "East" to the global. In response to the growing nationalistic discourse, it is crucial for our investigation to represent artists and theorists with different identities and ideas for the future. In this way, TransitoryWhite emphasizes the productive interaction between different multitudes rather than dualities. 

TransitoryWhite understands whiteness as a metaphor for colonialism, or as a white, self-contained exhibition space where the hierarchy of discourses and images is prejudiced. Instead, we turn to the idea of White Noise; a signal or constant disturbance, something cacophonic, turbulent and restless which fluctuates and transforms our perspectives.

Contributors

Laura Arena

Laura Arena is a Level 3 Reiki practitioner certified and licensed in the state of New York. She's a graduate of the Art of Energetic Healing School located in Manhattan with spiritual teacher and master healer Suzy Meszoly. Next to being a Level 3 Reiki practitioner, Laura is a multidisciplinary artist, activist, designer, and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. Arena’s work encompasses photography, video, installation, writing, and social interventions with a focus on storytelling, human rights causes, gameplay, race, and identity. She has exhibited in galleries and festivals worldwide and has participated in events in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Arena has attended residencies and workshops in Greenland, Iceland, Romania, Hungary, Palestine, Turkey, and the United States. 

In 2021 she will be mapping the Chakras of Berlin as an artist in resident at Z/KU (Center for Art and Urbanistics).

Read her article: CHAKRAS OF TBILISI

Ina Hildebrandt

Ina Hildebrandt is an art historian and cultural journalist. Born in Kazakhstan, she grew up as a so-called Russian-German in the south of Germany. After spending years of total assimilation she developed a strong interest in her cultural roots. Several long travels and stays took her to Easter-Europe over Russia to Central-Asia. Thereby she started to focus more on those regions also as art historian and journalist. She lives and works in Berlin. 

Read her articles and interviews: ON THE LOOP

Anna Kamay

Anna Kamay is an independent curator and cultural manager hailing from Yerevan, Armenia. Anna organizes community-based art projects with the goal of using public space and art to meet local needs and manages Nest Artist Residency and Community Center at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Yerevan.

Read her article: JUGGLING DINOSAURS, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Victoria Kravtsova

Victoria Kravtsova has studied International Relations in St. Petersburg and Berlin. In Berlin she is active in NGO projects in Eastern Europe, co-organizing seminars and exchange programs in the fields of environment, human rights, gender equality and civic education. Victoria receives a scholarship from Heinrich Böll Foundation and is engaged in writing her thesis “Between the ‘posts’, out of the void” where she traces the travels of the contemporary feminist discourses to and from Central Asia.

Read her articles and interviews: EMBRACE YOUR ANTITHESIS, WANDERING POETICS OF CENTRAL ASIAN MESTIZAS, WHERE THE ROSES GROW, Interview with Madina Tlostanova Part I and  Part II

Daria Prydybailo

Daria Prydybailo is a curator, researcher, founder of the TRSHCHN platform and co-founder of the NGO Art Matters Ukraine. Her background includes +7 years in leading cultural institutions of Ukraine such as National museum complex Art Arsenal and CCA PinchukArtCentre, as well as independent curatorial practice with a strong focus on the body in contemporary art, sensual turn, sound art, and in-situ projects. She worked on large-scale international projects such as International forum Art Kyiv, the First Kyiv Biennale of contemporary art ARSENALE 2012, and Ukrainian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. During 2013-2015 she curated online-platform & collective of artists, curators and writers  (wo)manorial, who contemplate the ever-changing concept of femininity. Her latest research is focused on love and intimacy in the context of emotional capitalism. Originally from Kyiv currently she lives and works in Berlin. 

Read her article: 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Thibaut de Ruyter

Thibaut de Ruyter is a French curator and critic who lives and works in Berlin since 2001. In the last ten years, he has organized exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Bochum, Museum Kunstpalais Düsseldorf, Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, HMKV in Dortmund, EIGEN + ART Lab and CTM in Berlin, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and CRP / in Douchy-les -Mines. One of his latest projects is a travelling exhibition co-curated with Inke Arns for the Goethe-Institut: The Frontier that calls into question the dividing line between Asia and Europe in the former Soviet states. Since 2017 this exhibition has been exhibited in St Petersburg, Moscow, Tashkent, Almaty, Krasnoyarsk (u.A.) and will open in Erevan in May 2019. His areas of interest range from new media to spiritualism to "exhibitions that are not exhibitions". Most of his projects are related to everyday, pop or underground culture. He has been the German correspondent for the French magazine artpress since 2003.

Read his articles: EAST WIND - ART IN THE FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS, UNFORTUNATELY, WE CANNOT PAY FOR YOUR FLIGHT AND ACCOMMODATION, ARTIST PORTRAIT: ALISA BERGER

Asli Samadova

Asli Samadova is a Milan/Baku-based curator and museum specialist experienced working with leading cultural institutions in Europe and the USA on cultural diplomacy, education and exhibition projects. She is the founder of Ta(r)dino 6 alternative art space that promotes contemporary art from Azerbaijan and beyond and is a platform for experiments. Ta(r)dino 6 Venice project brought Turandokht. Radio Riddles to Venice and was the first to present contemporary art from Azerbaijan in a non-institutional environment during the 58th Venice Biennial 2019.

Read her articles: WHEN THERE ARE NO OPPUTURNITIES, CREATE YOUR OWN GIARDINI, INTERIORS, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Saltanat Shoshanova

Saltanat Shoshanova is currently pursuing her Master's degree in History of Arts at the Free University Berlin. Her research interests include art in connection to queer and feminist theory, queer migration, decoloniality and post-Soviet space. She is an activist and co-organized several queer feminist conferences in Vienna and Berlin.

Read her article: ON LANGUAGE OF SUPREMACY: MEDINA BAZARGALI IN CONVERSATION, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Julia Sorokina

Yuliya Sorokina is freelance curator of contemporary art, lecturer, tutor, author of texts, lives and works in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Born in 1965 in Shchuchinsk (Kazakhstan) In 1987 graduated from the Artistic-drawing faculty of the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute named after Abai (Almaty). In 1992 she also completed post-graduate course in cinematology at the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (Moscow) and courses in art-management in 1998-1999 at European Summer Academy for Culture & Management (Salzburg) and at Institut fur Kulturwissenschaft (Vienna) Austria. Since 1999 she is chair-person of the Board of “Asia Art+” Public Foundation, which she co-founded in 1996. Major exhibitions & projects 2007 - “Muzykstan: Media generation of contemporary artists from Central Asia”. Central Asia Pavilion at the 52. INTERNATIONAL ART EXHIBITION LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA. Associazione Culturale Spiazzi, Venice, Italy (Commissioner and curator) 2007 – Central Asian Project.

Read her article: 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Antonina Stebur

Antonina Stebur is eine Kuratorin und Forscherin. Studium der Bild- und Kulturwissenschaften an der European Humanities University (Vilnius, Litauen) und an der School of Engaged Art der Kunstgruppe “Chto Delat?” (Sankt Petersburg, Russland). Sie ist Mitglied der Künstlergruppe #damaudobnayavbytu (“Frau, die bequem im Alltag ist”), die die feministische Agenda im russischen und weisrussischen Kontext untersucht. Sie war Kuratorin einer Reihe von Ausstellungen in Belarus, Russland, Polen, Frankreich und China. Ihre Forschungsgebiete und kuratorischen Interessen sind: Gemeinschaft, Um-Zusammenstellung alltäglicher Praktiken, feministische Kritik, neue Sensibilität, Basisinitiativen.

Read her articles: ICH LIEBE DICH!, ANOTHER PRODUCTION DRAMA, МЫ СЁННЯ ЗНАХОДЗІМСЯ Ў ІНШАЙ ВЫТВОРЧАЙ ДРАМЕ, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Annika Terwey

Annika Terwey is a German-Italian new media designer & artist. She studied visual communication at the Berlin University of the Arts and graduated from the new media class. In her work, she is exploring new forms of communication through interaction design, video installation and exhibitions. Her interest range from environmental science, new technologies and human perception.

Read her article: ON LANGUAGE OF SUPREMACY: MEDINA BAZARGALI IN CONVERSATION

Alex Ulko

Alexey Ulko was born in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) in 1969. After graduating form Samarkand University with a diploma in English he obtained an MEd TTELT degree from the University of St Mark and St John (UK). Since 2003 he has been working as a freelance consultant in English, Culture Studies and Art for various cultural organisations. Has been making experimental films since 2007 and is an active writer about Central Asian contemporary art. His current artistic interests: experimental cinema, photography, visual poetry. Member of the European Society for Central Asian Studies, the Association of Art Historians (UK) and the Central Eurasian Studies Society (USA).

Read his article: 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE, THE SHIFT OF THE PARADIGM IN MODERN CENTRAL ASIAN ART

Lolisanam Ulug

Lola Ulugova (Lolisanam) has been an activist in Tajikistan since 2000. Her last working assignment as an Arts and Social Activism Program Coordinator at Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation (OSIAF) in Tajikistan, 2014-2019, was a recognition of her skills and passion towards development of the Tajik youth, arts and activism at a professional level. She also was the founding director of Tajik Bio-Cultural Initiatives a non-governmental organization dedicated to Tajik arts and environmental issues. In 2013, she wrote and produced the nation's first 3-D animation film, a short designed to promote awareness of environmental issues among children. Previously, she has produced several cultural DVDs archiving Tajik dance and biocultural diversity; was a Field Production Manager on the documentary Buzkashi! By Najeeb Mirza (Canada); from 1999-2005 was the manager of Gurminj Museum, an important musical instrument museum in Dushanbe; has been involved in the administration of multiple government and NGO research projects and publications in Tajikistan; and has been the organizer of several important art exhibitions. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Turin, Italy and an undergraduate degree in Russian Language and Literature. She was a Global Cultural Fellow at the Institute for International Cultural Relations of the University of Edinburgh during academic year 2017-18 and participated in Central Asian-Azerbaijan (CAAFP) fellowship program at the George Washington University at Elliott School of International affairs for Fall 2019.
She has co-produced “After the Curtain” documentary along with Emelie Mahdavian (USA), covering the intimate stories of a few Tajik women dancers, also a “Youth for Laws Supremacy” performance that indicated her protest torture and violence.

Read her article: 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Katharina Wiedlack

Katharina Wiedlack is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of English and American Studies, Humboldt University Berlin. Her research fields are primarily queer and feminist theory, popular culture, postsocialist, decolonial and disability studies. Currently, she is working on a research project focused on the construction of Russia, LGBTIQ+ issues and dis/ability within Western media. http://katharinawiedlack.com

Read her article: IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO MAKE FILMS QUEERLY THAN TO MAKE QUEER FILMS

People

Ina Hildebrandt

Ina Hildebrandt is an art historian and cultural journalist. Born in Kazakhstan, she grew up as a so-called Russian-German in the south of Germany. After spending years of total assimilation she developed a strong interest in her cultural roots. Several long travels and stays took her to Easter-Europe over Russia to Central-Asia. Thereby she started to focus more on those regions also as art historian and journalist. She lives and works in Berlin. 

Irina Konyukhova

Ira Konyukhova is an artist, writer, curator, feminist activist and the founder of TransitoryWhite. In her practice, she explores the connection between female sexuality, pop-resilience, death as well as colonial technological practices. As an artist, her works have been presented on various international festivals and exhibitions, including DocLisboa, Athens Biennale, Teneriffa Espacio del Arte, Exground Film Festival e.t. Her latest article on the early 2000s Russian lesbian stars T.a.T.u. And their influence on queer politics has been recently published by Pop-Zeitschrift by University Siegen. Ira was a grantee of BS Projects Artist-in-Residence scholarship Programm and lives and works in Berlin.

Pavel Metelitsyn

Pavel Metelitsyn is a software engineer and developer focusing on interactive data presentation, user interfaces and web technologies. He is driven by the idea of making the information more accessible through interactivity and gamification. Working together with creative agencies he implemented interactive multimedia stations for Neues Historisches Museum, Frankfurt/Main, made a kiosk app for a permanent exhibition at Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Frankfurt/Main. Besides that, he works with a wide range of clients from FinTech Startups to national research institutions, helping them to collect, process and present the business information. Pavel holds an M.Sc. in Mathematics.

Daria Prydybailo

Daria Prydybailo is a curator, researcher, founder of the TRSHCHN platform and co-founder of the NGO Art Matters Ukraine. Her background includes +7 years in leading cultural institutions of Ukraine such as National museum complex Art Arsenal and CCA PinchukArtCentre, as well as independent curatorial practice with a strong focus on the body in contemporary art, sensual turn, sound art, and in-situ projects. She worked on large-scale international projects such as International forum Art Kyiv, the First Kyiv Biennale of contemporary art ARSENALE 2012, and Ukrainian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. During 2013-2015 she curated online-platform & collective of artists, curators and writers  (wo)manorial, who contemplate the ever-changing concept of femininity. Her latest research is focused on love and intimacy in the context of emotional capitalism. Originally from Kyiv currently she lives and works in Berlin. 

Sascia Reibel

Sascia Reibel is a graphic and product designer. Her focus lays on printed matter, especially books and posters, with a strong dedication for typography. She engages in projects within the field of culture, art, and education. She studies communication design at the University of Art and Design Karlsruhe and has also studied in the design master program of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. Her work has been honoured with several awards, including «Most Beautiful Swiss Books», «Most Beautiful Books from all over the world», «Bronze Nail, ADC», as well as the «Badge of Typographic Excellence, TDC New York.

Kundry Reif

Kundry Reif grew up in Vienna, Austria. Whilst studying cultural studies at university in Berlin she started to work in art collectives and galleries. Last year she went to work at the Goethe Institute in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for a year. Having never heard a lot about Central Asia before, this year abroad sparked her interest. Being back now, she misses Central Asian Kurt, and has decided that her favorite museum of all times is the Sawitsky Museum in Nukus, Uzbekistan. 

Willi Reinecke

Willi Reinecke is a film director, writer, and researcher on Lev Vygotsky's Psychology of Art at the Institute for East European Studies (Freie Universität Berlin). He is teaching at Szondi-Institute for Comparative Literature and Institute for East European Studies. He worked as assistant director of the documentary film "Familienleben" which premiered at Berlinale 2018. The film was nominated for German Documentary Film Award and was awarded prizes at Saratov Sufferings Festival (RU) and Neisse Filmfestival (GER). He's currently working on documentary films for Institute of Contemporary Art Yerevan and Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V.

Thibaut de Ruyter

Thibaut de Ruyter is a French curator and critic who lives and works in Berlin since 2001. In the last ten years, he has organized exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Bochum, Museum Kunstpalais Düsseldorf, Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, HMKV in Dortmund, EIGEN + ART Lab and CTM in Berlin, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and CRP / in Douchy-les -Mines. One of his latest projects is a travelling exhibition co-curated with Inke Arns for the Goethe-Institut: The Frontier that calls into question the dividing line between Asia and Europe in the former Soviet states. Since 2017 this exhibition has been exhibited in St Petersburg, Moscow, Tashkent, Almaty, Krasnoyarsk (u.A.) and will open in Erevan in May 2019. His areas of interest range from new media to spiritualism to "exhibitions that are not exhibitions". Most of his projects are related to everyday, pop or underground culture. He has been the German correspondent for the French magazine artpress since 2003.

26th February 2020

The shift of the paradigm in modern Central Asian art

article

Alexey Ulko
en

4th February 2020

Embrace Your Antithesis

interview

Interview with Slavs and Tatars
en

1st February 2020

Chakras of Tbilisi

article

Laura Arena
en

29th January 2020

2019 Curator's choice

article

en

17th January 2020

On the loop

interview

en

23rd December 2019

"Мы сёння знаходзімся ў іншай вытворчай драме"

interview

Работай Больше! Отдыхай Больше!
by

5th December 2019

Another production drama

interview

Interview with WORK HARD! PLAY HARD! working group
en

20th November 2019

Wandering poetics of Central Asian mestizas

interview

Interview with Krëlex Zentre
en

6th November 2019

Conversation with Julieta Aranda and Anna Kamay

interview

en

29th October 2019

Where the roses grow

interview

Interview with Almagul Menlibaeva
en

25th October 2019

On language of supremacy: Medina Bazargali in conversation

interview

en

16th October 2019

Interiors

portrait

Exhibition by Xenia Fink In Ta(r)dino 6 Baku
en

10th October 2019

Madina Tlostanova on decolonizing the post-Soviet, exotization and political imagination(s)

interview

part two
en

1st October 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union! (German)

article

Ira Konyukhova
de

26th September 2019

Madina Tlostanova on feminism, coloniality, returned pasts and reimagined futures

interview

part one
en

6th September 2019

It is more important to make films queerly than to make queer films

interview

en

12th July 2019

When there are no opputurnities, create your own Giardini

article

Asli Samadova
en

1st July 2019

Juggling Dinosaurs

article

The precariousness of motherhood in arts
Anna Kamay
en

24th June 2019

Interview with Elene Abashidze

interview

en

14th June 2019

Unfortunately, we cannot pay for your flight and accommodation

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

28th May 2019

Ich liebe dich!

article

Antonina Stebur
de

17th May 2019

Interview with Anna Vahrami

interview

en

23rd April 2019

Artist Portrait: Anastasia Akhvlediani

portrait

en

13th April 2019

Artist Portrait: Alisa Berger

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

21st March 2019

Faig Ahmed

interview

de

18th March 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union!

article

Irina Konyukhova
en

11th March 2019

Interview mit Samvel Saghatelian

interview

de

8th March 2019

Artist Portrait: Salome Dumbadze

portrait

en

4th March 2019

Interview mit Chinara Majidova

interview

Klang des Brunners vor einer Fassade
de

26th February 2019

East Wind - Art in the Former Soviet Republics

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en
"Turandokht" at 58th Venice Biennale
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn
Artist Farhad Farzaliyev
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn
Ta(r)dino-6 Team (Asli Samadova, Olga Selezneva and Farhad Farzaliyev) with visitors of the installation
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn
Turandokht: 58th Venice Biennale
Video by Pavel Metelitsyn

When there are no opputurnities, create your own Giardini

Asli Samadova

12th July 2019

The first years of its independence Azerbaijan, a new country on a post-Soviet political map with a very difficult name to pronounce yet to remember, was known as a conflict zone with vast oil resources. Apart from political journalists and oil sector businessmen, Azerbaijan would rarely interest anyone else. 2012 Eurovision, the first among many major international sport and cultural events, promoted the country as a unique blend of Oriental and Western civilizations.

 

Many if not all contemporary artists from Azerbaijan have referred to a carpet or other craftsmanship traditions, yet very few could articulate the reason why they chose carpets as subject-matter or medium. Reflecting this fashionable local trend, Western curators invited to represent National Pavilion at Venice Biennial would make group shows reshuffling two dozen contemporary Azerbaijani artists and having at least one ‘carpet’ artwork - woven, photographed, drawn, used as decoration pattern, digitized. Mainstream contemporary art from Azerbaijan deviates more towards decoration which is easier to attribute and connect with the country’s identity and heritage whereas most of the conceptual artworks remain local without making one step further to become glocal - a business term that Encyclopedia Britannica explains as “simultaneous occurrence of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies in contemporary social, political, and economic systems”. This situation, however, is not exclusive to Azerbaijan: one observes similar trends in the neighbouring countries and across the Caspian Sea. Unsurprisingly these are post-Soviet republics that thirty years after the collapse of the Union are forming their intellectual basis and shaping national identity.

WHEN THERE ARE NO POSSIBILITIES, ONE SHOULD CREATE THEM 

Short-lived Wings of Time art association founded by the late Leyla Akhundzadeh has inspired Aida Makhmudova to build Yarat Contemporary Art Space – a Baku-based institution that consistently supports and help the sustainable development of the local art community. Yet, as a non-profit organization, Yarat cannot alone fulfil the mission of broadening the perception of what is art working in parallel with the general audience and professional art community through exhibitions and events programming and commissioning artworks to international and local artists to expand its collection. Interest in collecting contemporary art still has to pick up as without it Azerbaijani artists struggle to create contemporary forms of expressions.

 

When there are no opportunities, one should create them: an ‘alternative Azerbaijan Biennial pavilion’ to showcase the migrating sound installation Turandokht. Radio Riddles in the oldest and largest Venetian private garden was organized within less than a month by a small group of enthusiasts. Coincidentally, a private garden was within walking distance from the Accademia Bridge and Campo San Stefano, where the traditionally Azerbaijan National Pavilion was situated. As a result, an opening of the National Pavilion on May 9 was chosen for showcasing Turandokht. Radio Riddles. This five-channel radio installation resulted from a collaboration between Farhad Farzaliyev, Leyli Salayeva, Asli Samadova and Jahangir Selimkhanov. It found a home for one day.

 

Fascinated by the centuries-long journey of a narrative fragment from the epic The Seven Beauties (1197) by Azerbaijanian poet Nizami Ganjavi (1141-1209), the team studied the original plot. It is about a wise and self-sufficient Slavonic beauty who declares she will marry only her equal, and thus tests her suitors with riddles. Only the brave and wise successfully pass all challenges to conquer the special heart. A quest for personal identity and asking a question of what it means to be an Azerbaijani woman living for most of her adult life abroad. Surprisingly, some answers were found in medieval literature.  Nizami Ganjavi is as important for Azerbaijanis as Dante for Italians, Goethe for Germans or Pushkin for Russians. He wrote predominantly in the Persian language, but presumably never left Ganja, the second largest city of present-day Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, his influence is spread across a wide territory – Caucasus, Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. Unlike Rumi or Omar Khayyam, he still needs to be discovered in the West. His influence in Western culture is not known outside narrow academic circle: the plot and its slight adaptations are found in the writings of the Frenchman François Pétis de la Croix (1653-1713), the Italian Carlo Gozzi (1720-1806), and the German authors Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), Karl Gustav Vollmöller (1878-1948) and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). A nameless princess from Nasrin Nush’s story became the famous literary figure Turandot, a princess from China. The plot further migrated into music: the German composer Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826), the Italians Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) and Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), and the Briton Havergal Brian (1876-1972) are among those who composed operas on this subject. 

 

The amount of work and number of collaborators - over 40 actors, musicians, composers - involved in the creative process makes Turandokht. Radio Riddles one of the most complex artworks ever made in Azerbaijan. The artwork touches many hot buttons of modern society in a series of interviews and poetry recitals: culture and self-identity, solitude, empowerment, relationships and balance with oneself and outer world, setting priorities. These topics make Turandokht. Radio Riddles a multilayer piece that requires time and concentration. It re-explores popular sound material, mixes and distorts it along with the text. So, Nessun Dorma, which is sung in by a tenor in Puccini’s opera Turandot, is voiced in the sound installation’s multiverse by a countertenor, a chorus of female voices and even a Vocaloid (computer programme). Another famous piece, Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns, illustrates the reverse journey of a classical European music piece into Eastern classical music traditions. The composition is recorded in Azerbaijan mugham modes on the Medieval musical instruments mentioned in Nizami’s poetry. The modality of a riddle is continued in poetic texts translated into different languages. 

 

Almost like an initial message in the game of Chinese whispers, Nizami Ganjavi’s plot has passed through countless transformations over the centuries. The creators of Turandokht. Radio Riddles have taken the process further, to imagine what kind of person Nizami’s protagonist, a smart and astute princess, would become in modern times; what would her thoughts and essence be? As a result, they have created a composite portrait of someone simultaneously strong and vulnerable. The sound installation thus immerses the listener into a carefully constructed fantasy world of a present-day Turandot, a protagonist of Giacomo Puccini’s eponymous opera and one of the most recognizable works based on Nizami’s plot. Centuries long transformations of the story are traced in the sound installation which is an allegory of the shifts in gender attitudes and cross-fertilizing cultural mutations that have taken place throughout human history. For example, tenor arias are sung by sopranos, European 19th-century classical music is performed on medieval Azerbaijani instruments, due to English grammar construction some texts are gender-neutral. The sound material is mixed and distorted along with text, creating a variety of possibilities to experience and interpret the artwork.

 

The Venetian garden opened up new possibilities and pushed the creative boundaries for artist Farhad Farzaliyev who engages in anthropological research on the Azerbaijan cultural context and the cataloguing of striking forms of neo-folklore. Farhad mixes puns, social content and self-irony in his works by using paintings, objects, video and sound. His artistic practice is deeply intellectual reflected in multiple layers of experiencing his artworks. With the nonlinear narration and overlapping sound, Turandokht. Radio Riddles offered a unique experience to each visitor: interaction is personal and unique since one’s body placement, even its slight tilt or move would affect what a person would hear in a given moment. The further one walks and the longer one listens to the radio emissions, the deeper and more confessional they become. Turandokht. Radio Riddles is a poetic multiverse of possibilities in the quest for love striving to rebirth its essence. It is a refuge from reality, a spiritual delve into a polyphony of sound in an attempt to reach catharsis.

 

 

Asli Samadova is a Milan/Baku-based curator and museum specialist experienced working with leading cultural institutions in Europe and the USA on cultural diplomacy, education and exhibition projects. She is the founder of Ta(r)dino 6 alternative art space that promotes contemporary art from Azerbaijan and beyond and is a platform for experiments. Ta(r)dino 6 Venice project brought Turandokht. Radio Riddles to Venice and was the first to present contemporary art from Azerbaijan in a non-institutional environment during the 58th Venice Biennial 2019.

"Turandokht" at 58th Venice Biennale
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn

Artist Farhad Farzaliyev
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn

Ta(r)dino-6 Team (Asli Samadova, Olga Selezneva and Farhad Farzaliyev) with visitors of the installation
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn

Turandokht: 58th Venice Biennale
Video by Pavel Metelitsyn

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