Exhibition Upcoming – SHED

12 September 2024 - 12 January 2025

Saodat Ismailova

Curated by Roberta Tenconi

Saodat Ismailova (Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 1981; lives and works between Paris and Tashkent) is a filmmaker from the first gener­ation of Central Asian artists in the post-So­viet era. Her films and installations explore the collective memory, spiritual practices, rituals, and ancestral knowledge of her na­tive region to address issues of cultural her­itage, the representation of femininity, and resistance to the impact of human activity on the environment. Her films expand cinemat­ic temporality, emphasizing long shots that evoke the aesthetics of slow cinema, often combined with archival footage and installed within textile sculptural elements drawn from vernacular traditions. Her images and son­ic landscapes create powerful and hypnotic narratives that unfold at the intersection of cinema, sound, and visual art. Drawing on her family’s spiritual and intellectual roots, particularly through her grandmother, oral histories, and animist beliefs, Ismailova inter­weaves myths with personal dreams to ad­dress social issues such as women’s emanci­pation, identity, and the colonial past.

The exhibition at Pirelli HangarBicocca will be the first comprehensive survey of Saodat Ismailova’s work in an Italian institution, and will include works from over ten years of practice in a new specific spatial environment. Conjuring dif­ferent narratives and landscapes, the artist will engage with an intricate web of images and times, creating a dreamlike atmosphere in which visitors will expe­rience the multilayered stories of Central Asia, at a crossroads between West­ern and Eastern cultures.

Ismailova has exhibited at numerous major institutions includ­ing Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains in collaboration with Centre Pompidou, Paris (2023); Center for Contemporary Arts, Tashkent (2019); Ilkhom Theatre, Tashkent (2018); Tromsø Kunstforening (2017).
Her films and video installations have also been presented in in­ternational group exhibitions such as Sharjah Biennial (2023); Venice Biennale, documenta, Kassel, (2022); Meet Factory, Prague (2021); Para Site, Hong Kong, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2019); Lunds konsthall, Sweden (2018); Yinchuan Bi­ennale, China (2018).
In 2013 Ismailova was one of the artists representing the Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, while in 2018 her live musical performance Qyrq Qyz premiered at Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York.
Her work is also wide­ly recognized in the film industry and has been featured in festi­vals such as Berlinale International Film Festival (2014) and Rot­terdam International Film Festival (2005), among others.
She has received numerous awards, including Eye Art&Film Prize, Amsterdam (2022); Documenta Madrid (2018); Golden Alhambra Award, Granada Cines del Sur Film Festival, Tash­kent International Biennale of Contemporary Art (2014); Turin International Film Festival for Best Documentary (2004). In 2021 she founded the research group Davra, dedicated to the study, documentation and dissemination of Central Asian cul­ture and knowledge.


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