18 000 Worlds
21 January — 4 June 2023
Saodat Ismailova is an important voice within the first generation of Central Asian artists to come of age in the post-Soviet era. In her work, she investigates the rich, complex and layered culture of the region where she was born. She portrays the spirit of Central Asia, crossroads of cultures, leaving lots of space for intuition, stories and music.
In 18,000 Worlds, Saodat Ismailova explores the invisible foundations of Central Asia. Moving from personal to collective memory, she connects myths from the region to its recent history and addresses its spiritual heritage for healing. In 2022, the artist and filmmaker received the Eye Art & Film Prize for her oeuvre, in which she devotes attention to the complex, layered culture of her motherland. This is her first major retrospective exhibition.
Ismailova interweaves myths, rituals and dreams with everyday life. She calls our attention, in a nuanced way, to social issues such as ecological problems and women’s right to decide whether to wear the veil. Women’s identities and emancipation is a recurring theme in her work. Women play an important role in keeping cultural and spiritual heritage alive – for example by passing on stories and customs from mother to daughter, generation after generation.
Archival footage is a recurring feature of Ismailova’s work. The tradition of Soviet cinema she grew up with has left traces in her work, and she carried out a great deal of archival research into the earliest Uzbek films, which sometimes feature as found footage in her work. The region’s turbulent political history is never far away. Successive regimes have caused languages, traditions and nature to be lost. Ismailova marks these losses, yet her work is principally an ode to the rich spiritual world of Central Asia.
Photography and textiles are included in the exhibition alongside her films and video installations. There will also be an accompanying publication and an extensive public programme.
About Saodat Ismailova
Saodat Ismailova (1981, Uzbekistan) is based in Tashkent and Paris. She studied film and has made fiction films and documentaries, which have won awards at various international festivals. In 2013, she presented her first video installation, Zukhra, at the Venice Biennale. Since then she has focussed on the intersection of cinema and visual art. Successfully: in 2022 her work was selected for both the Venice Biennale and Documenta.
To accompany the exhibition, a special publication will be issued containing an interview with the artist by Dina Akhmadeeva and essays by Erica Moukarzel, Yuliya Sorokina and Filipa Ramos. Marian Cousijn has written texts about all of the works in the exhibition. A richly illustrated publication that gives a prominent place to the huge quantities of source and archival material collected by Saodat Ismailova.
Graphic design: Joseph Plateau. Editor: Marente Bloemheuvel. A publication by Eye Filmmuseum with nai010 publishers Rotterdam. € 24.95.
Films, talks & events
In cooperation with the artist, a programme has been put together consisting of film screenings, discussions and introductions. In addition, a special programme has been developed around Central Asian films and video art, both for Eye’s cinemas and for the Eye Film Player.
Free guided tour
Every Sunday at 14:00 and 15:00, a guide takes you on a tour through the exhibition upon presentation of a valid exhibition ticket.
Every third Sunday of the month at 15:15, a Dutch Sign Language interpreter will give a guided tour. You can sign up by contacting email@example.com.
There's a special tour for students of secondary school and higher education.
Eye Art & Film Prize
The Eye Art & Film Prize was initiated in 2015 by Eye and the PJLF Arts Fund to support and promote an artist or filmmaker who combines art and film and displays exceptional imagination, artistic quality and conceptual ability in so doing. With an annual cash prize of £ 25,000 for the creation of new work.
Previous winners include Hito Steyerl (2015), Ben Rivers (2016), Wang Bing (2017), Francis Alÿs (2018), Meriem Benanni (2019), Kahlil Joseph (2020) and Karrabing Film Collective (2021). An international jury and advisory board, made up of key players from the world of the visual arts and film, appoint a winner each year.
Nalini Malani (IN), Visual artist
Chris Dercon (BE/FR), Director General of the Fondation Cartier, Paris
Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (LS/DE), Filmmaker and visual artist
Hila Peleg (IL/DE), Curator and filmmaker
Nanouk Leopold (NL), Filmmaker, theatre director, visual artist
Chaired by Sandra den Hamer, director of Eye
Advisory Board 2019-2022
Andrea Lissoni (IT/DE), Artistic Director Haus der Kunst, Munich
Solange Farkas (BR), Director and curator Associação Cultural Videobrasil, São Paulo
Rajendra Roy (US), Head Curator Film, MoMA, New York
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (TH), Director
Eva Sangiorgi (IT/AT), Artistic director VIENNALE, International Film Festival, Vienna
Simon Field (GB), Producer
Hoor Al Qasimi (AE), President and director of the Sharjah Art Foundation
Cuauhtémoc Medina (MX), Curator, critic, art historian
Chaired by Jaap Guldemond, with Marente Bloemheuvel (Eye)
PJLF Arts Fund
The PJLF Arts Fund was founded in 2011 to support artists, filmmakers, writers and musicians and has made an annual financial contribution to the Eye Art & Film Prize each year up to and including in 2022. The celebrated author Paddy Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) and photographer Joan Leigh Fermor (1911-2003) were greatly interested and involved in the arts. The Paddy Leigh Fermor Archive and the Joan Leigh Fermor Archive are located in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh.