Pubblications for the artist films

ClientSaodat Ismailova
Category Editorial

In 2021, video artist and filmmaker Saodat Ismailova founded a research group in Tashkent called DAVRA dedicated to the study, documentation, and promotion of Central Asian knowledge and culture.

She went on to participate in Documenta Fifteen 2022, presenting a work on the figure of the chilltan, a shapeshifter in Asian culture. The word is derived from Persian and literally means “40 bodies, gender-neutral beings”, a theme explored by Saodat since her debut film 40 Days of Silence (2014). At Documenta 2022, she presents a labyrinthine work that takes place in a sequence of interconnected rooms in the basement of the Fridericianum Palace in Kassel, combining film, performance and environment. In an adjacent space, the works of 18 artists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, members of the DAVRA collective, are concurrently exhibited showcasing visual works, sculptures, crafts and traditional works, music, films, and texts of shamanic supplications that invite the visitor to discover Asian culture. For Ismailova, Metodo Studio curated the relative publications: Chilltan Shapeshifting Eternal Spirits from Central Asia, which compiles and presents the DAVRA exhibited works, and Bibi Seshanbe which presents the film dedicated to the story of Cinderella and how it has been reinterpreted over the centuries in various cultures worldwide. The 52-minute film also documents a precise female ritual still widespread in Central Asia that includes a recitation of an ancient local tale, equivalent to Cinderella, namely—Bibi Seshanbe Ona. Metodo Studio also oversaw the design of the booklet Chillahona (2022), which documents the new, three-channel video work recently presented at the 59th Venice Biennale. Filmed in Tashkent, in the three-level underground cells called chillahona, structures intended for practicing self-isolation and meditation often built next to the graves of local saints in Central Asia. The first screen documents people visiting the chillahona; the second portrays devotees performing their rituals and prayers; while the third follows the visit of a young woman in distress and her moment of self-isolation. Hanging next to the videos is a palyak (a traditional Tashkent embroidery that depicts feminine cosmology and invokes protection, healing and fertility) made by the artist from white fabric and illuminated by colored light. Operating between the boundaries of real and imaginary spaces, Ismailova draws on the specific cultural identity and history of Central Asia, often through ancestral knowledge and epic folk tales featuring women as protagonists, to reveal a broader understanding of what it means to be human. Celestial Circle – the catalogue for the exhibition of Saodat Ismailova at the Neue Galerie im Hohmannhaus, Augsburg, Germany (19.09-07.12.2014). Zukhra – booklet for the presentation of the installation video by the Uzbek artist Saodat Ismailova in the Central Asia Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition of the Biennale di Venezia. Chilla/ 40 Days of Silence – the catalogue for the presentation of the film 40 Days of Silence / Chilla directed by Saodat Ismailova and presented at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (the Berlinale) in 2014. Metodo, with this project, selected by Joost Grootens, took second place in the Fedrigoni Top Awards contest in the Books category, awarded in London.