A Space of Celebration is Taus Makhacheva’s first retrospective exhibition in West Asia, bringing together works created over the past thirteen years, including a new site-specific commission.
Makhacheva revisits and retells complex histories through a cast of characters and objects, including her alter ego, Super Taus. Her humorous and contextually grounded installations involve flawed gymnastics training arenas, Soviet-era circuses, wedding halls and suspended mountain ranges. In her works, facts meld with everyday myths, troubling the notion of cultural authenticity and making way for the fantastical. Makhacheva layers light-hearted tales with the uncanny and the unexpected, and occasionally, with incommensurable tragedy.
Much of Taus Makhacheva’s stories emerge out of the North Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, specifically the Republic of Dagestan. Over the course of her career, she has looked at the making and remaking of history and heritage, as the region was undergoing its post-Soviet recomposition.
‘A Space of Celebration’ brings together works from 2009 to the present, making visible the vast ensemble of practitioners Makhacheva has collaborated with. Charivari (2019) looks at the visual culture of the Caucasus through its circuses, bringing about spectacle, wonder and fantasies of the future. Quantitative Infinity of the Objective (2019) uses the setting of a training gym in which control is asserted through language and brings about ways of resisting constrictive social codes.
In Seismic Jitters (2020), missing objects recount their own stories of absence and disappearance, resisting dominant narratives. Superhero Sighting Society (with Sabih Ahmed, 2019) introduces a cacophony of voices from all over the world which attest to superhero sightings. In Makhacheva’s works, languages and voices often overlap, setting the stage for plural and complex tales where the truth is always in-between.
Taus Makhacheva (b.1983, Moscow) creates works that explore the restless connections between historical narratives and fictions of cultural authenticity. Often humourous, her art considers the resilience of images, objects and bodies emerging out of stories and personal experiences. Her methodology involves the reworking of materials, landscapes and monuments, pushing against walls, opening up ceilings and proliferating institutional spaces with a cacophony of voices.
Makhacheva holds a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London (2007) and an MFA from the Royal College of Art (2013). Her work has recently been exhibited at the Biennial of Difficult Heritage, Volgograd (2021); Yokohama Triennale (2020); Lahore Biennale (2020); Kaunas Biennial (2019); Lyon Biennale (2019); Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (2018); Liverpool Biennial (2018); Manifesta (2018); Yinchuan Biennale (2018); Venice Biennale (2017); Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art (2017); Shanghai Biennale (2016); Kyiv Biennial (2015); Sharjah Biennial (2013); and the Moscow Biennale (2011).
Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the P. S. Gamzatova Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts, Makhachkala; KADIST, Paris and San Francisco; Moscow Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp; Pushkin Museum, Moscow; Sharjah Art Foundation; Tate Modern, London; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.