YARAT Participate in VIENNAFAIR. The New Contemporary. 2-5 October 2014
YARAT, a not-for-profit contemporary art organisation, is delighted to participate in VIENNAFAIR The New Contemporary as the VIENNA Focus special exhibition for 2014. YARAT brings together new work by three artists responding to Sovetsky, an impoverished and run-down district in Baku. Orkhan Huseynov, Sanan Aleskerov and Aida Mahmudova present new works in video, photography and installation that consider community, renewal and nostalgia.
2014 marks the 10th anniversary of VIENNAFAIR, Austria’s largest contemporary art fair. The fair is a platform for contemporary art from Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe and is this year expanding its focus to include Azerbaijan. The VIENNA Focus section is devoted to institutions, non-profits and cultural embassies, and will be looking exclusively to Azerbaijan through YARAT.
The district of Sovetsky, meaning ‘Soviet’, gets its name from the style of its predominant architecture which makes this rapidly changing residential area unique. Sovetsky is characterised by cramped, low buildings and narrow roads as a result of chaotic construction, and used to be known for its high rate of crime. Although Sovetsky has a close knit community and is now viewed as safer, it is still an underprivileged part of the city. The YARAT artists at VIENNAFAIR The New Contemporary each make work about Sovetksy as a reaction to Baku’s modernising landscape.
Sanan Aleskerov (b.1956) offers a rare glimpse into Baku’s forgotten corners through his street photography of Sovetsky. With a career spanning several decades, Aleskerov predominantly produces work in black and white, ranging from portrait photography to photojournalism. His new series of photographs opens with a roof-top view and goes on to explore the urban landscape of the area, focusing on empty streets and their crumbling ‘monuments’ such as telephone poles and old drinking fountains. The focus of Aleskerov’s series of images is the dilapidation of physical surroundings and a need for renewal.
Orkhan Huseynov (b.1978) works across different media including painting, installation and video to express his ideas. He belongs to a generation of Azerbaijani artists who have gained international recognition in recent years. His new work is concerned with the individuals who live in the district of Sovetsky. In this series he exposes the ‘underbelly’ of Baku, recreating both joyful and violent scenes from his own childhood and those of his friends and family. Through isolating vivid memories in these filmed vignettes, he sheds light on life in Azerbaijan before its independence in 1991.
An installation by Aida Mahmudova (b.1982) repurposes an ornate door fragment from the Sovetsky district. The fragment is combined with ‘shadows’ cast on the floor in polished steel, brought together to highlight the transience of this urban environment and commemorate a moment in time. This work follows on from Mahmudova’s installation, sculpture and painting which are concerned with memory, nostalgia and identity in response to Azerbaijan’s modernisation.
The project is produced by YARAT. Aida Mahmudova is both an artist and founder of YARAT, which was set up in 2011 to help nurture an understanding for contemporary art in Azerbaijan and create a platform for contemporary Azerbaijani art both nationally and internationally.