taus makhacheva

taus makhacheva

Curated by Alexey Maslyaev

Russian artist Taus Makhacheva's works (1983, Moscow) are grounded in her national identity (Taus belongs the Republic of Dagestan, and she is an ethnic Avar. She lives and works in Makhachkala). These art pieces take the form of research trips, voyages of exploration, and attempts to understand how the regional community is changing under the influence of the new political conditions affected by the post-Perestroika period and the collapse of the previously existing ideological world order. What is happening to the artist's native republic, to its history and national memory, to the culture, everyday life, and customs and traditions, the local identity of the people that live on this land?

The works inspired by these questions have brought Taus Makhacheva recognition from the international professional community – she has received several prizes. This, however, has not led to her to simply use some one-time successful thematic or methodological strategy. To the contrary, Makhacheva is always expanding her conceptual and interpretational fields. She sketches out new directions and routes of exploration on the boundaries between traditional, authentic culture and the contemporary global world.

Landscape, one of the works in the exhibition "Dagestan. Not for sale", takes the form of a collection of 1:1 scale wooden replicas of the noses of inhabitants of the North Caucasus. In focusing attention on such an expressive part of the face, Taus Makhacheva invests the wooden block with a symbolic dimension of ethnic culture and speaks of the epic poems in which men who have lost their noses struggle to prove their manhood, going off to quest and wander in search of them.

And Makhacheva’s practice as a whole takes the form of a collection in which the cultural values shared by a national or regional community intertwine with personal interests. By artistically comprehending very different things, she “preserves” them – adds beautiful landscapes imbued with the surprising beauty of views (Rekhen, Walk), found objects (the sign Dagestan) and historical artifacts (the postcards in the series Caucasian Types), domestic scenes, people's facial features (Landscape) and personal qualities (The Fast and the Furious), and national customs and symbolic manifestations of regional culture (The Space of Festivity) to her collection. In such a manner, Taus Makhacheva creates her own, very personal image of the Republic of Dagestan that contains values and meanings that cannot be simply sold off or forgotten. Values that are not for sale.
Taus Makhacheva (b. 1983, Moscow)
Winner of “Future of Europe” prize (Museum of Contemporary art, Leipzig, 2014); “Innovation” state prize in contemporary art (“New Generation” category, 2012) holds a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College (London, 2007) and an MA from Royal College of Art (London, 2013). Selected exhibitions: Rewriting Worlds (2011, Fourth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Main Project, ArtPlay Сentre); 7th Liverpool Biennial: City States-Makhachkala, Topography of Masculinity (2012, LJMU Copperas Hill Building, Liverpool); Re: emerge - Towards a New Cultural Cartography, Yuko Hasegawa, curator (2013, 11 Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, UAE); Love me, Love me not (2013, 55 Venice Biennial, collateral event, Venice); Story Demands to be Continued (2013, Republic of Dagestan Union of Artists Exhibition Hall, Makhachkala); What? Whose? Why? (2013, Raf projects, Tehran); A Walk, A Dance, A Ritual, (2014, Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig).

Alexey Maslyaev (b. 1985, Moscow Region)
Curator & cultural studies scholar. Head of methodic and research section of educational department of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.