Aaron Cezar: Central Asia reveals its complexities

Curated by Dina Nasser-Khadivi, “Love Me, Love Me Not” is produced by Yarat, a non-profit organisation setup by artist Aida Mahmudova whose work dominates the entry to the space. The sculptural assemblage of reclaimed Azeri decorative window frames with stainless steel contemporary forms gives a strong first impression. In many ways, it sums up the approach of the exhibition to showcase the complex histories around Azerbaijan and its cultural links with some of its neighbouring countries.

Aida Mahmudova's large installation Recycled, 2012-2013, on the floor.

Like Mahmudova's work, Iranian artist Afruz Amighi's powerful new commission uses form and patterns to express hybridity and multiplicity. But this exhibition does not only highlight parallels between practice and place—it also demonstrates the talent and potential that is emerging from Azerbaijan and the wider region.

Afruz Amighi, untitled, 2013

Two-thirds of the artists are aged 35 or younger, and while Ali Banisadr and Mahmoud Bakhshi have been acquired by major collections from the Met to the Tate, Sitara Ibrahimova and Farid Rasulov are among this younger group of artists who show the kind of potential that Yarat has been set up to nurture and support. Rashad Alakbarov's installation was a crowd favourite.

Rashad Alakbarov's crowd favourite Lost in Translation...this too shall pass, 2013

My personal favourite was Faig Ahmed.

Faig Ahmed, untitled, 2012

There are also a number of established international artists like Afruz Amighi, Slavs and Tartars, Farhad Moshiri and Kutluğ Ataman crammed into the exhibition to make the trip well worth the hassle of crossing the Arsenale by boat. Two important things to note. Firstly there is a free boat transfer available. The journey takes 5-10 minutes but it has random timings so check. Also the catalogue has contributions by Negar Azimi, Nada Raza, Suad Garayeva and excerpts of Slavs and Tartars' comical “Molla Nasreddin” book. The publication is a perfect complement to the exhibition, simply designed at A+B Studio.

Slavs and Tartars, Molla Nasreddin the Antimodernist, 2012

Worth the detour

Aaron Cezar is the director of the Delfina Foundation

Published Fri, 31 May 2013 15:59:00 GMT

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