Eye on Art: Bibi Seshanbe
Special screening of a film that Ismailova created as a video installation. Different generations of Uzbek women carry out day-to-day activities: both ritual and domestic. We experience intimate moments when the boundaries between the mystic and the concrete blur. Introduced by researcher and programmer Marian Cousijn, who interviewed Ismailova at length.
Saodat Ismailova made the film Bibi Seshanbe (2022) specifically to screen within the context of an installation, such as at last summer’s Documenta 15 in Kassel. But now Ismailova has given Eye on Art special permission to show the work, which is not included in the exhibition 18,000 Worlds, in the cinema.
Bibi Seshanbe Ona – literally ‘The Lady of Tuesday’ – is a widespread blessing ritual in Central Asia. It incorporates elements of animalism, Zoroastrianism and an ancient story comparable to Cinderella. It is performed in a small circle of women and includes cooking special traditional foods, lighting candles and fortune-telling using flour. It is still performed in Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan.
Saodat Ismailova: 'The film weaves together three elements: the fairytale, which is totally re-enacted; the ritual which can be seen as an etnographic document; and the story of a contemporary 'Lady of Tuesday', or fairy godmother. I found her in Bibisora Aripova, a surgeon who founded a shelter for female survivors of violence and fire, who are rejected by their families. Women who protect other women exist not only in fairytales.'
This programme accompanies 18,000 Worlds. In this exhibition of installations and video works, Saodat Ismailova explores the invisible foundations of Central Asia. In doing so, she makes use of personal and collective memories, connects myths to the region’s recent history and investigates the healing effects of spiritual heritage.
Visit the exhibition page for the other public programming surrounding the exhibition and the screenings of Central Asian films selected by Saodat Ismailova. Some films specially selected for 18,000 Worlds can also be seen on the Eye Film Player.
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.
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