RUSSIA|DAGESTAN-UK: Taus Makhacheva and Natalia Mali

This dialogue ran from 22 November 2009 – 17 January 2010, after which the artists were invited to discuss ideas for new work. The dialogues have now ended, but you can see and engage with the development of the selected proposals here.

Taus Makhacheva

Taus Makhacheva

Natalia Mali

Natalia Mali


Transparent Bag-Exchange Proposal

Taus Makhacheva

For this project I’m planning to make 100 absolutely transparent luggage bags (image attached). The shape of the bag would be simulating a standard sports bag, popular in Dagesan. Everything inside of it will be seen. Then I will advertise in the local newspaper “From hands to hands” that I will exchange new transparent sports bags for old bags/suitcases and will document the exchange.

I will exhibit the documentation of exchange, advert in the newspaper, transparent bags, if there will be any left and audio documentations of the conversations I had with people who wished to change.

I have been interested in works that were done via adverts in the newspapers, for example the work of Nina Khachadouryan and Julia Meltzer in 1996, where they have advertised a non-existing studio to let, that was exactly the size of standard prison cell. Or Nancy Burson, who put an ad in Village Voice in 2002, where she was looking for people (of any nationality) who thought they looked like Jesus, she photographed everyone and exhibited selected portraits.

What am I doing? A transparent bag as it is, is a self-explanatory comment on the situation we are in. I’m also interested in exchange of something regarded more valuable for something of less value. But the main goal of the project is conversation and penetration of another social sphere. Who are those people reading exchange ads in the newspapers? What do they remember? How do they live? What is art for them? My conversation during the exchange is part of the work.  Conversation about their everyday and historical experiences (I envision that its mostly old people read this particular newspaper). Their interpretations of my actions and results.


Taus Makhacheva

This is a project that grew out of furball. It is an Intervention with anthropological research of the subculture, that is beening formed at the moment. There is a new highway being built from Makhachkala to the airport. Every Saturday from midnight till 3 am an unauthorised highway racing contest happens. Crowds of man in black gather to watch, socialise and be part of the small newly forming subculture. I hope to make a video about this dynamic. I will not only be an observer. I will participate and document a carefully choreographed intervention with help of video camera. I intend to produce a full fur cover for one particular car and film its arrival and participation in this contest. Me and my friend(who often works as cinematographer with me) will also film the reaction of men who regularly come to these gatherings to hang out. The fur cover will be made out of old monster-like Soviet fur coats that I will collect. As I said this idea grew out of my FurBall proposal on IAA website. I kept thinking about it and there was nothing in it, apart from visuals and a rather simple idea of going back to nature, references to minimalism and the beauty of the landscape, it seemed too dry, too formal, too arty I would say. This idea on the contrary has a strong sense of exploring new social formation and critique. The end product would be an edited video of this performative action. I’m thinking of shooting another video with this fur car. I will either mix the two footages or display two videos in the same room in close proximity. The second video would be like a mock advert of luxury cars. Driving in this FurCar through mountains and fields with flowers, possibly chasing after another Russian minivan car called gazelle, FurCar like an animal chasing a deer.

In regards to emotions behind this project I can say a few things. I have always been very interested in observing various social dynamics. I want to intervene, have a dialogue, have a say, make a comment on zillions of car adverts that present automobiles as key to freedom, masculinity, phallic power, autobeasts that go wild, free when on the road, or when there is no road at all. I want to comment on the fact that Russia is overflowing with oversized cars, that would usually be used by farmers elsewhere. I want to comment on how disposable fur can be, and how unethical an artist can be, I want to get a response from real Dagestan man to what would be going on when we will arrive to participate in this street racing contest… I want  to use humour as a tool to connect…and critique. Its not only the  critique of consumption, comment on exclusive masculine Dagestan space, half-bestiality of fur(1), RnB culture if you wish, but I see it as a gateway to communication with the environment, new social group. It is impossible to predict a response I will get from the people at the event or driving through a city of Makhachkala. It is like tapping on new ground, somewhat similar to my video work A Space of Celebration, where two anthropomorphic brides explore new eclectic architecture of popular Dagestan wedding halls.

(1) “It is necessary to note that turning fur coats inside out is a characteristic ritual in a great many ethnic rites that marks representatives of the other world (evil spirits in a number of cases) who often look half-bestial according to popular beliefs.” (“To be presented with a fur coat off the tsar’s back” by Patimat Gamzatova)

Tied together


indeed where are we with our proposals, my furball mutated into a furcar in the last few days, because i couldnt justify its presence in the beautiful nature. Thats how my development looks now! ))))))) wont go on about the performance video with it.

Taus Makhacheva

a fox, a horse, biting, decay, residue, yes yes yes, lets become one, lets leap into regression…

After i read you suggestion i have immediately thought about few works that i wanted to post… “Dark side of slapstick” !!! Brilliant, i know exactly what you mean!  I see you are wearing fur in the images… I should probably throw in a few ideas…do you think there should be a dialogue between us, may be we can write smth…or should there be some tension/longing to be separated? On my trip to London i went to white cube and there was a show by Candice Breitz:Factum, video portraits of twins, and some of the twins talked a lot about how they wanted to separate from one another and the opposite and how they felt they were one person….

Throwing in some works for us to bounce off…

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Lygia Clark  Dialogue Goggles 1968 (left)

Laura Lima Quadris/Hips 1996-97,  Marra/Fighting 1996-97 (right)

Taus Makhacheva

Sigalit Landau   Three Man Hula  4 min  1999

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Lovett/Codagnone Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves 2005, performance,

Lovett/Codagnone sat  back to back on a gallows, their hands tied on their laps and their hads bound together by a double leather hood (evokes executioner and victim) performance lasted 1 hour, artists recorded voices could be heard reading an excerpt from “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”, after the performance ended, the installation and sounds were left.




Breaking the apple with your forehead! I remember that! I knew we were going to have a future together when you suddenly did that on the coffee table somewhere in Baku. I meant to write that before, I don’t ever want to forget it, so I wrote it down, for the record.

Where were we? With our respective works, the last time we were both here; a furball, a fox ?

I thought for tonight, I’d post up some images of the most recent incarnation of Fox Cub which I performed for Winter Rites in London in February.

A thought. An ‘animal’ performance piece, this time involving both of us. Something we could not do alone. Ever thought about how if you tie two people together it’s easy to think of a horse or some other four legged thing, immediately. The results being possibly gracefully restrained and perfectly timed, possibly injured. Tragicomic probably. Thinking the dark side of slapstick together with genuine wanting it to be convincing, to be a horse. A costume is not even necessary. I love our awkward chemistry as it is. We should try this! Sort of the opposite of never thinking about the fact that Claude Cahun was shaven most of the time and that everything else was a fake. All that hair. Horned curls of wet black, blonde plastic plaits. Shaven by night.

Let me know what you’re thinking. About.

It’s raining in London. Again.



Fox Cub Blue

Fox Cub Blue 

Fox Cub Blue

Fox Cub Blue

Fox Cub Blue

Fox Cub Blue

(Photos by Julia Suermondt, mostly, the blonde woman with the bite marks in the above photo, so this is not one of hers.)

Proposal form

All our artists are invited to submit one or more proposals for new work, individually or collaboratively, by 1 April 2010. Please click here for the form:

iaa proposal form

what do YOU want (really)

back to basics – (I) what do YOU want to say? (II) how is your desire going to inhabit the language (medium) you intend to use?


confined in my research

G-d = morality? not sure

Susan Faludi: “everything that’s been said about feminism is not what it is – it’s to me about… retrieving your whole self, and I think it applies to MEN as well as WOMEN – feminism is about being a full human being, being a grownup, and having not only attention, but authority, agency, and… being a full enough person of having a full responsibility and engagement in a larger world.” extract from:


for a western women God plays aesthetical role.From my life experience I have learned that for non western women G-d is an attribute of morality. I’d love to discuss this issue when working on my project. this is why I brought into discussion the book ‘does G-d hate women’…


You say:

“Muslim women, women from post soviet block and middle east are perceived to have predominantly traditional self-identities and social roll”

“Ophelia… was brought up as a catholic, eternal bride and a great sinner according to Church she committed suicide being pregnant…”

consequently, Ophelia represents Muslim women & women from post-soviet block (and NOT women in ‘Western’ society)

women role in ‘western society’

It’s a known fact that Muslim women, women from post soviet block and middle east are perceived to have predominantly traditional self-identities and social roles and thus are believed to be less adept to adjust to modern societies.

The truth is, immigrant women’s experiences in general and Muslim women’s experiences as immigrants in particular are quite diverse and complex. Within today’s increasingly globalizing world, more and more Muslim women and others find themselves in modern or modernizing situations and are able to successfully adjust their traditional selves to fit the needs of a modern lifestyle. I want my heroines look through Ophelia’s life who was brought up as a catholic, eternal bride and a great sinner according to Church she committed suicide being pregnant…

Ophelia carry on

the text you supplied a link for centers on religion as a bastion of patriarchal power, and references Catholic clergy (in Chile), and some Islamic countries – how is this relevant to the roll of women in the ‘Western’ society (especially in the UK)?

Wikipidia on gender – yep, we are aware that, amongst other concepts, gender roll is a theoretical construct; and that contemporary psychoanalysis claims that we are all bisexual because we all had a mother and a father.

First- Gender Role

from Wikipedia

A gender role is a theoretical construct in the social sciences and humanities that refers to a set of social and behavioral norms that, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific gender. Proponents of gender role theory assert that observed gender differences in behavior and personality characteristics are, at least in part, socially constructed, and therefore, the product of socialization experiences; this contrasts with other models of gender that assert that gender differences are “essential” to biological sex. Research supports this theory, finding gender differences in almost all societies, but with differences in the norms adopted, suggesting that gender differences are, at least partly, influenced by culture.

Gender has several valid definitions but it here refers to an individual’s inner sex or psychological sense of being a male or female irrespective of one’s (outer) sex identity as determined by one’s sexual organs. There are two main genders: masculine (male), or feminine (female).

Gender identity refers to the options available to members of a society to choose from a set of social identities, based on the combination of one’s sex identity on the one hand, and one’s natural gender, interests and social experiences on the other. Some ancient tribes have more than five human genders. Most non-Western societies have three human genders — man, woman and third gender. In the West, gender is considered to be an invalid concept, and is considered to be the same as one’s sex identity, for which there are considered only two valid options — male or female. Any gender variation from one’s sex identity is treated in the West as a disease or abnormality to be corrected.

Gender roles refers to the set of attitudes and behaviors socially expected from the members of a particular gender identity. Gender roles, unlike natural human genders, are socially constructed. They may reflect natural gender aspirations of the members of that gender identity, or they may be politicised and manipulated, which then result in the oppression of people.

For a long time now, penetrative sex with women and reproduction within the marriage institution has been adjugded as the most basic criteria for granting manhood (gender identity for men) by most of the non-Western world. In the modern West, this essential requirement has been changed to a heterosexual desire, resulting in the Western concepts of ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual,’ instead of the usual gender identities for males.

Women and G-d–jeremy-stangroom-1764856.html

does G-d exist?

the question ‘Does God hate Women?’ implies that God exists, no?

Does G-d hate Women

Thus, I would like to stand up for Ophelia and get more specific avoiding speculations around my hypothesis about her being a best example of a ‘femme total’ or the best example of the Western Female Archetype to undertake. I would like to highlight Ophelia’s individuality, her being a fictional character, a potential wife that asks herself a lot questions. Her question ‘Does God hate Women?” brought about a vast discussion among academics and writers. Recently I consulted the British Library catalogue (became a member of BL) to be able to perform my further research.

I found several books confirming my thinking such as ‘Early Modern Tragedy gender and Performance’, ‘Contemporary Feminist Theatres’ by Goodman and many others. I would like to take some time to read and research. Will get back to you in a bit.

Question for Natalia (again) – how is Ophelia’s character relevant as a starting point for a discussion about the roll of women in the contemporary ‘western’ society’?


the iaa team is at it too (+ bit tired) – as for the london sunshine, we know cos we’re throwing glances towards a large window

no air no sunshine



research & development workin’?

love to keep the title

I really like to change the title into “Run Away with Ophelia”. Its brilliant! Thanks you Breda. Going to write you about (II) project in progress Shlyager Stars…

‘fresh air’

and sunshine in london today…

fresh air

need to get some freash air. going for a walk, but will be back in discussion later on. I remember about your question, Breda.

Question for Natalia (again) – how is Ophelia’s character relevant as a starting point for a discussion about the roll of women in the contemporary ‘western’ society’?

Need some time to write you back, its a long one.


if the dynamic between the question and the answer perpetuates some kind of a contradiction)

before we run away with Ophelia

Yes, of cause. This time I like to be a mediator. Substituting Ophelia can be a project itself. Should offer this form to the immi girls. I love it!

P.S. just realized I was writing my comments on comment box and not posting them

Work of art

Work of art is in the questions one asks with that work…

FurBall project and Revisiting Personal memory project

FurBall is a single screen video

Everything else i said was in relation to the II project of Revisiting Personal Memory

(II) Why an environment for a gallery space, because i want the viewer to be able to experience it all at once, in a dark space, inside a story, that possibly never existed, inside a fake “randomish” personal narrative. Online, its only 15 inch screen, there is no immersion, no sense of time, there is a choice what to see/when in the real space you see all at once…

I was referring to the point of view and perception of the audience, that will be in the real space surrounded by slide projections and different “altered memory” videos, played all at once…

where is the work of art, Taus?

unity of form and content?

Revisiting Brangelina

Breda, Im not saying its irrelevant, im saying that the character can be almost anyone/with relative depth of course. What im saying is that Ophelia is secondary and i would not think differently about the project if it was any other deep female character with history…What  im trying to do is ask: where is the work of art? in the character that Natalia has chosen? In the artist herself? In 6 females? In the fact that she gains a dominant position of an educator? In the works they produce? In the fact that she almost erases her artist-self from the show? In the dialogues they have? In the way those 6 females will carry on with their lives after the project will be finished? May be it is all of it, but i think that the choice of Ophelia means less then all the other things i have mentioned…

who is the mediator? im trying to swap places envisioning Ophelia and Natalia as mediators at different times, and i cant answer…Natalia? Ophelia? Mediator of what…

Thank you for Afterlife reference (just great! surfing through torrents now) and what you said…im still thinking about why you posted ‘I Like America and America Likes Me’…


if FurBall is a single-screen video, then all events take place one after another within a single ‘cinematic’ frame. consequently, how do you anticipate that it will be possible for the viewer to experience: “it all at once” and chose “what to see, and when”. Also, not sure what this means “in the real space you see all at once” – are you referring to the general low of perception? are you referring to the concept of a point of view? if so, whose point of view is it? the artist’s? the viewer’s?

revisiting Angelina Jolie?

if I understand well – you are saying that Ophelia’s character is irrelevant for the project ‘Revisiting Ophelia’?
if so, why not revisit Angelina Jolie? or even James Bond?

Who is the mediator – Ophelia’s character, or the artist herself who should be embarking on the multi-stage project together with 6 other participants?

I’ve just posted ‘After Life’ link – a range of characters with their subjectivity, experiences, (learning process)… and yes – a production of a piece of work together with cast & crew.

Revisiting Ophelia

Breda, because the project is not invested with Ophelia character, it is invested with 6 women characters with their subjectivity/experiences/research,learning and dialogue skills. As Natalia said “In order to discuss somebodies life you need to discuss and understand your own”. The mediator or character can be anyone …Sonya from Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, anyone…thats why i think it has nothing to do with Ophelia.


a film by Hirakazu Koreeda

brief synopsis: After people die, they spend a week with counsellors, also dead, who help them pick ONE MEMORY, THE ONLY MEMORY they can take to eternity. They describe the memory to the staff who work with a crew to film it and screen it at week’s end; eternity follows.

I and II

FurBall(I) is intended like a single-screen video. (II) Why an environment for a gallery space, because i want the viewer to be able to experience it all at once, in a dark space, inside a story, that possibly never existed, inside a fake “randomish” personal narrative. Online, its only 15 inch screen, there is no immersion, no sense of time, there is a choice what to see/when in the real space you see all at once…

In regards to your second paragraph…i know that i have to define the characters the story the story time vs video, but i dont know how, where to start, because it is all half-baked and i have no answer to why my story is different… i go away to turn the oven on…

at once: visible & invisible

excellent, Taus.

for yet another  journey that is at once invisible & visible; internal & external; personal & political; contemporary & historical:

‘I Like America and America Likes Me’ performance by Joseph Beuys

In May 1974 Beuys flew to New York, and was taken in a veiled ambulance to the site of the performance, a room in the René Block Gallery on East Broadway where he shared this room with a wild coyote, for eight hours over three days. At times he stood, wrapped in a thick, grey blanket of felt, leaning on a large shepherd’s staff. At times he lay on the straw, at times he watched the coyote as the coyote watched him and cautiously circled the man, or shredded the blanket to pieces, and at times he engaged in symbolic gestures, such as striking a large triangle or tossing his leather gloves to the animal; the performance continuously shifted between elements that were required by the realities of the situation, and elements that had purely symbolic character. At the end of the three days, Beuys hugged the coyote that had grown quite tolerant of him, and was taken to the airport. Again he rode in a veiled ambulance, leaving America without having set foot on its ground.

“I wanted to isolate myself, insulate myself, see nothing of America other than the coyote.” J. Beuys

for some extracts from the performance visit:

Whats in it for me

It’s the easiest way to remodel my present, Eline, to remodel and extend my existence, like leaving passport photos of yourself behind couches, under carpets, under the seats on the airplanes, in the hotels and cafes you visit. To imitate a memory i don’t want to forget and to make the one i craved for real, now that i say it, it all sounds like therapy, which is a bad thing. It all has to do with a fact that i remember things differently than other ppl in that same situation. In a way it is a licence for a lived experience, justification, video as a proof of fiction and reality, justification for my memory. Its a way of capturing those memory flashes that one gets-capturing and adding to them. I remember a voice, an image, or a detail, a short frame, i want to build a video sculpture around those fragmented memories…add plaster of imaginary to a fragment of real.

I care about the fact that i see it as a mix or “real” and “fictional”, for audience it can be all fiction…this part is a bit blurry in my concept…what if its a completely imaginary archive? what if i never belonged to a family, a culture i claim i belong? im not sure myself how should i do it…i do not have a definite answer yet…


I have caught up with your dialogue and im interested in what you are talking about, but i think it is different. Because you are talking about virtually fulfilling your mothers dreams, you are talking about altering reality, where im thinking of altering the past… If its any help there are three projects i have seen so far that come to my mind immeadiatly, Emily Jacir (Palestine) Where We Come From (2001-2003) Jacir, holder of an American passport, asked more than 30 Palestinians living both abroad and within the occupied territories: “If I could do anything for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?” She collected responses and carried out tasks in an extended performance of wish fulfilment by proxy…    Or Mona Hatoum, Measures of Distance 1988 in relation to a dialogue with your mother..    And the third thing…i can not remember the name or if it was even an artist who did that…the way i remember it was a philosopher/writer he locked himself in his room for an experiment, he claimed that he can make a journey to (i think London) without leaving his room. He surrounded himself with images of the city, videos, sounds of train moving and stayed locked in for 2 days, some ppl claimed that they saw him in London during these 2 days…

what do you think of these works?

I dont think there is any way to merge our altered memory works, but discussing them further and helping each other develop would be good?

before we run away with Ophelia

the iaa team is aware that the ‘Revisiting Ophelia’ project is ‘older’ than 22 Nov 2009, our dialogue start date (pls refer to R&D stage guidelines).

Question for Natalia (again) – how is Ophelia’s character relevant as a starting point for a discussion about the roll of women in the contemporary ‘western’ society’?

Question for Taus – regardless of its ‘educational’ streak, how can a project that is invested with Ophelia’s character have nothing to do with Ophelia?

revising ophelia

Taus, giving you a short answer. Still dealing with my Internet connection at home

you asked me – what do you see as the end product?

I was going to show a video documentation of the the work we have done together presented on 6 screens, our dialogues, collection of the working material and as a main body of the exhibition the final product, an art piece that each girl will make. Art work will be dedicated to Ophelia, therefore will give her presents in the project. Their work will be based on  researching her life. As you know Ophelia was Hamlet’s great love but she had her own story. Her childhood, her being brought up as a prostitute, her education, her ideals, her madness and many more. The fact that her character will be discussed by 6 immigrant girls will give to the project a multi dimension. In order to discuss somebodies life you need to discuss and understand your own. don’t you think?  this will be tough but interesting. natalia

Will you be showing works by the 6 participants? Or your own documentation and description of the process? For me this work is about passing on the skill, the research skill, I like it, but I feel that it has nothing to do with Ophelia…what do you think?

(I) FurBall, and (II) revisiting personal history

a question in relation to both projects: why a three-dimensional ‘narrative’ for a gallery space instead of a single screen film/video for festival and cinema distribution? furthermore, if it’s supposed to be  a ‘randomish’ scroll through objects, characters, various aspects of time – why not an online project?

whichever, it seems that you have to find (I) your own character as well as the characters for both projects; (II) the ‘story’ (memory and family/ancestors is not enough – it has been done many, many times before – what makes your ‘story’ different/new? ); and (III) the ‘story’ time vs the film/video time.

past & present

what’s in it for the audience, or rather what’s in it for you? what does re-staging the past say about the current Taus?


hello taus, i just read your proposal and infact was about to submit exactly the same proposal about private history/memory/altered memory…in exactly the same manner as you were,  i was wondering if we could collaborate on this thought it is a very personal work. The similarities and approach are too similar in our proposal to ignore.. just a thought,




Hello Ana, Breda, Natalia!

Natalia good to have you back! About your proposal/what do you see as the end product? Will you be showing works by the 6 participants? Or your own documentation and description of the process? For me this work is about passing on the skill, the research skill, I like it, but I feel that it has nothing to do with Ophelia…what do you think?

I do not have  a finished proposal  to present, but I have a couple ideas I want to throw into the conversation. Things that’s been on my mind.

I guess the first idea is the FurBall video, the idea I have already posted. I have no narrative in my mind yet, but I have this furry object, and the image of smb rolling it, and I have one particular image from Shirin Neshat’s  Tooba video in my head as well…I cant get rid of it…this crowd of man in black…the tree…the female that becomes part of the tree  here and here

And I feel that I want more people involved in this video, people that live in the mountains during winter, those for whom the waterfall (in the furball photo) is home…that nature is real home…

I have been thinking about what I wrote here when I replied to a question what do I want? I want to do a big project on private history/memory/altered memory… I have already talked to some friends artist/curators about the idea and I think I can do a show out of it, may be in the beginning of summer or later. What I want to do is shoot videos of my memories, real and fictional. It will be like a home video archive that never existed about the events that happened and never happened… technically I would have to find girls of different ages that would look like me and film in different places like Tsada/Makhachkala/Moscow/Zheleznovodsk (it is like a kids health camp that I was sent to once a year, every year)…in the end I see several films (home-video style) and several slide projections around the space. Changing slides of different objects from my grandfather’s house and childhood photos-where I would photoshop myself into the images I was not meant to be in…

Im too captivated by the idea to see it from the outside, so please do give me your opinions/push me…the main question I guess is…what’s in it for the audience? The fact that you can remodel your childhood? The restaging of real memories in an attempt to keep smth?

Warmest regards from Coldest place,


P.S. Ana…I am patiently waiting for you )

why Ophelia

why revisit a tragic female character as the main point of reference in a discussion about the role of women in Western society?

I’m sure you are aware of ‘Languages of Theatres Shaped by Women’, book by Jane De Gay and Lizbet Goodman (references to Ophelia in ‘I, Hamlet’, performance by Jane Prendergast)

Just for info – this was on at the Linbury Studio Theatre from 3-6 Feb: ‘Dalston Songs’, a song theatre by Helen Chadwick inspired by the stories and memories of people in her local community in Dalston, East London, where many different cultures co-exist.

Proposals for new work


Today I am posting my proposal for new work. Waiting for your comments.

Project Working Title: Revising Ophelia

The project Revising Ophelia will present six stories: six portraits of six immigrant women coming from Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Serbia, Russia-Ukraine and Israel and their six perspectives on women’s role in Western society.

These women (need to search for them), all of who live in London, represent the first generation of immigrants and don’t have any artistic background, will be invited to participate in the project Revising Ophelia. In this  project Ophelia becomes a mediator, a connecting agent between Western and Eastern female archetypes. In my view, today Ophelia can be viewed as a perfect model of modern female stereotypes that are actively present in our society.
Using resources provided by me, each participant would study and analyze Hamlet’s Great Love, Ophelia. They will be asked to read Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, watch Colestino Coronodo’s 1976 film Hamlet, see an episode from the ballet Hamlet (Ophelia’s Mad Scene), listen to the aria from A. Thomas’s opera Hamlet, and study paintings depicting Ophelia.
Pointing out Ophelia’s best qualities and making intellectual analysis of her image, the participants will be asked to create a body of artwork based on this study. The outcome of this collaboration between the six women and me (I will give an artist talk for the participants, give individual workshops aimed at developing their artistic skills and discuss their ideas) will be an artistic commentary of a personal understanding of one of the best-known and important Western female icons. During these joint workshops, the common language of which will be English, the six women and I will discuss our ideas about the role of women in Western society and demonstrate examples of their proposed work for the future exhibition.

I see this project as a collaborative journey in which we will begin to examine how a social worker, a single mother, a DJ, or a widow can learn to use the language of art and express their views by means of making art.*here I would like to write more what this project does to us.

In our joint work we intend to use the story of Ophelia to be able to expose the confrontation between cultures, cultural and female stereotypes, as well as create a personal story of the woman living in contemporary times, the story which is based on our lifes.  Through this dialogue, the participants in this project will be introduced to a new media art such as video, digital photography, sound and text and how to apply them.
Implementing this project I will collaborate with partners such as IFA Gallery Berlin (co-funder) Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien and Imagine Art After,  (I collected letters of conformation ).

As a performance and visual artist, I have done much work that involved local communities. During my performance Life in the UK 2007, I asked British-born citizens to participate in a test that foreigners are required to take in order to be qualify to become a British Citizen. In my other work, The Shooting Time, I set up an old photo atelier in the former Museum of Lenin in Baku. I invited young Azerbaijan women to change their modern dresses into national costumes and participate in a photo session. In my work I am Black or Black Cancellation, I picked out men from the audience and covered them with a black cloth. Then I asked them to stay still for 10 seconds.
This time I want to play a role of an educator, a mediator and a friend. Natalia

back to live

Greetings to Taus, IAA working team and the rest of my colleagues.

I am back to live:
This simply means I am back in live conversation. I have survived Russian winter, German coldness, English superpolitness, and all the breaking news such as the earthquake in Haiti, global conference discussing global warming  (funny enough we are still covered by snow) winning election new Ukraine president Janukowitsch and etc.

I will post my proposal ideas in a bit.

Lots to  all.  Natalia


Wanted to share some images of my weekend trip to Suzdal.

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Just an ordinary house. I like how the birds occupied the architecture.

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Fairy tail Russian bogatyr/hero with Fiedrake, the princess is nearby. Its a hotel. Forgotten bottle of water in the car, turned out to be a bottle of ice in the morning…

Exhibits from the local monastery museum

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The first time i have ever seen a small icon that was made to be worn on your neck…never seen before…Archangel Michael end of XV-begining of XVI 6.9 x 3.7

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This embroidery really made me gasp, its called pokrov/cover and usually shows a saint full length and was сovering a tomb of the saint depicted… dates 1645 size  212×102, Saint King George Vsevolodovich. The face…THE FACE! Do you see what im astonished with?


Dear Ana,

So, the time has come) I bring Dagestan brandy, wine and Kizlyarka-grape vodka) we can break the apples with our foreheads!

I used to think that airplanes flapped wings when they flew…

white white red …is that a metaphor for the flashing light on the plane wing? … im being retarded here

Brilliant idea about a show in your warehouse/i love the one evening shows and shows in private spaces)!!! we will not freeze as we are already drinking in a virtual discussion, no chance we wont do it for real!

i’m thinking about doing a show in Moscow, slide projections, videos in one space/a private narrative will built out of it/some objects (slides) from my grandfathers house will be there, may be short video  “Dogs-as Natalia called it” that i shot for IAA and more, i can bring the things i have ready so far and test the concept…or may be we will have time to shoot smth)

What do you have in mind? Will you perform?

I would love to see you Fox Cub, or hear about it face to face, the information i have now in my hands/not enough…) do you want to put some pics up?

What do i want to do with you…biting back, bouncing ideas here and in reality, i want us to help each other develop our ideas in this strange migrated dialogue, that’s what i want from us.  From you i want criticism, i want to know what you think! if smth is not working, if smth is bad, i want you to be as harsh as you can when we talk about our art…and i want to understand the poetical dimensions of your work….like earlier i was so narrow-minded not understanding your white white red…teach me/expand my forehead dear Ana!

Till very soon!





I’m here, finally. I swear, it’s been with me, sort of on my forehead, for past couple of weeks, to move in! Last thought at night, first thought in the morning and on a stupid day like today, I’m finally here. I bring rakija, Serbian national alcoholic beverage of choice, of course. And as you say, I have had it warm, in me or on me, and it works, for anything! Including this Sunday, which ending, I shouldn’t have begun. I’ve been in a bad mood, for so many reasons “beyond my control”, like Vicont de e Valmont. I probably said and did things I shouldn’t have. All day long. Probably. And then you came along and with your way past midnight over there, over here. So, I’m over this Sunday, finally. This last day of January, undoubtedly my least favourite month of the year. Consistently.  

I had thoughts of flying somewhere today. Whenever I imagine flying I think of myself on a wing. I wrote this the last time I was out there.

On a wing

White white red

White white red

White white red

White white red

White white         red

White white                 red

White white                  red

White white       red

White white       red

White white red

White white red

White white red.

Would love to have seen your works installed for real. As I would have loved for you to see my ‘Fox Cub’ performance the other night, for real. Anyway, I promised I would bite you one of these days, and I still intend to! I know! Let’s have an exhibition in my warehouse when you come over! We can install everything, everywhere! That is, if we don’t die of the cold first, though I feel like revisiting The Little Match Girl or Snow Queen anyway.

So, what do you want to do, with me?



Come back from the dead

Ana the Russians are waiting))) i liked the way you put it “Moving in with the Russians”

Well i have some sort of muscle seizures on my right/waist area…ill go have a hot shower after i write this, or may be rub vodka all over my body/actually when i was a kid and had temperature i was rubbed with vodka and it helped/but its probably not good for muscular pain.

I have seen few shows recently, Summa Summarium in NCCA, national centre for contemporary art /on collage in art/some good works, but it didn’t work as a whole for me and a show in a flat called freedom/extremely bad, like we are back in…not even 60…there was no time in history of art that can be compared to the works i have seen. Total one-liners all about censorship in art in Russia (the famous Andrey Erofeev trial was referenced).

But these works were just bad/politically, religiously, bodily insensitive gestures/superficial gestures just for the sake of gesturing…one work that i liked was by Liza Morozova where she made a soap out of her own blood, nails and hairs (she boiled it) and put it in the bathroom/it smelled strange but was foamy)

The festival we took part with Natalia is over now, there were some very interesting lectures, i went to a lecture about Hussein Chalayan and on contemporary jewellery by Elizabeth Fisher/very interesting…Chalayan represented Turkey in 2005 Venice biennial, he made a film featuring Tilda Swinton…i never knew what to make of it…The jewellery lecture was amazing, you can make jewellery out of your own bone now..grow it…smb at RCA did it with a medical unit and so on…and what she said about an old tradition of making braids out of real hair…is fascinating…similar to carrying the hair of your loved one and so on…got me thinking about many things.

Im happy about the fest/i still don’t know what to make of it/I’m still thinking about the site specific video projection i made and whether it was site specific enough…if you know what i mean…take look  at the pics…)

Oh there was a performance by Liquid Theatre (Chelyabinsk) next to my projection at the opening, very good!


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Natalia’s Madamess installation

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My Video program entitled “Performance for Video” and performance by Liquid Theatre on the night of the opening

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Move in g

I’ll be here tomorrow night.



Moving in!

ANA why dont you move in here with US)))

We can gossip about night-gowns and talk art!



iaa dialogue official end date 17 Jan. however…

some dialogues will continue

after midnight

Thank you!

Those of you who have expressed interest in communicating beyond today’s end date  can do so by either continuing the current dialogue, or by migrating to another ‘country’ and establishing a dialogue with a new artist/filmmaker. The IAA team will stay with you.

Thank you…everyone.




Goodbye and Thank You…

P.S. I wonder if today is the real end date, or we can hope for another extension ; )


I know you are in Moscow already.

Im rather blank, sitting by my laptop and staring at my external 1 TB hard drive, there is about 10GB of free space left, and 10GB free in my laptop, its not much for video work.

Im editing in final cut the video for Central House of Artists, i have entitled my video program Performance For Video, its a rather formal definition, but i could come up with anything else, as the general theme of the festival is the use of new technologies in culture…

Dont know what else to write.

Identity… we are both interested in revealing our identities through our works…i wonder how self-centered we have bee throughout this project, that is coming to an end now…?

Magic tablecloth

Hey Natalia!

We will have a drink for sure! Esp keeping in mind that we will be in the same show at CHA, hectic week coming up.

I wanted to share what i did today.

Magic tablecloth) As you probably know it originates from russian fairy tails. The only thing you need to do is put the table-cloth on the table and a vast amount of different food will appear on it, when you finish eating you have to wrap the leftovers and dirty dishes in this cloth and they will disappear.

I was travelling round Dagestan few years back and spent some time in Andi mountain village, where i came across interesting posters and tablecloths that had different food pictured. Imitation of magic tablecloth from Slavic folclore tradition :) These posters/tablecloth’s are nothing specific to Dagestan, i have seen them in other places as well, actually the ones i used, were bought in Moscow.

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I was amazed by another thing as well,  photographic wallpapers, same with table-cloth not only in Dagestan. They were tremendously popular during Soviet time, ppl would put them across the whole wall in their flats and sometimes put some curtains on each side, so the imitation of the window into another world would be more tangible. The good photographic wallpapers were brought from GDR, it was considered i luxury…i suppose. My video “By the lake”  (you can see a still from this video on my IAA profile page) is about these wall papers, i have managed to find an original one and found a similar real scenery and took these wallpapers for a walk.

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Nature poster in Andi mountain Village

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Wallpapers i found

I guess these magic tablecloth videos, that i did today, are research in the same field ;)  Have a good flight my Dear)

[flickr video=4276025283]

[flickr video=4276126719]


1 more day to go

Hey-hey Taus

Sorry for the silence.  I have to organise a lot before hadding off to Moscow. My son G.P. is staying here as he has to attend the school.I had to organise everything fo him too, he is taking a lot tests before the end of semestr.

Hey , I will come to Moscow Jan 16, Sat not Sun as I thought… hm.. and I can finally see you, girl.

How about going out together for a drink? Do you drink, Taus? I know you can do…

dasshing off to finish packing. its got totally messy and maybe crazy…

see you soon. Natalia






I like the pics of your grandparents, may be you can invent an imaginary archive, collected from different random flea market photos, imaginary family history mixed with real….

Ill think of this archive idea, now its too anthropological, i see it as a catalogue or video for now…



culture memory


You must work on this archive, this is the only real and valuble thing that you have got.

I have got nothing. Exept maybe the graves of my ancestors and this makes me  very sad. I found a few old picture of the.

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Grandpa Nison, 1910

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Grandma Mazanot


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Girl from Derbent

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Don’t cry for me Natalia) Thank you. Its all real isn’t it? We feel whats important and its not rational…

Kisses to you!


I have a big archive of his images, i really like the fact that you can immediately  tell what political time they belong to, may be not the one i posted, but all the other ones.

He was a poet – Rasul Gamzatov, wiki on his most famouse piece

video/in russian here

Yan Frenkel performs

He wrote about very noble Dagestan… and he only wrote in his mother-tongue Avar/all the million copies of his books around Soviet Union were translated from Avar…

At some point the house i grew up in will become a museum, i feel the urge to clean every room and pack/clean/touch all the presents (very symbolic of his time) he received, his library, all Dagestans arts and crafts that the house is full of, its like i want to know every object in the house that he ever touched/was connected to, its probably what my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder wants)

my tears


I just open your “What do I want” post and tears spank to the monitor of my computer.

I am crying, Taus but for the first time I feel that these  are the  tears of happiness…

Love you.


lol dagestan!

what an amazing photograph of your grandfather! he was a poet, no?


Dear Ana)

Thank you for the reminder! I already forgot about it)


My Wanting

Dear Breda, Dear Natalia

I have been thinking all this time about what do I want. This is the first thing that came to my mind after I saw your comment.

I want to have my language/Avar in my art [flickr video=4267010293]

I want to have my grandfather and his works in my art

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I want to have my grandfathers house in my art

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I want to have things that remind me of Dagestan in my cousins Moscow flat, where i am now, in my art

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I want to have Dagestan jewellery in my art

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I want to have my family in my art

I want to have me in my art

I want to have my traditions and identity in my art

I want to have Dagestan’s reality in my art

I want to have Dagestans history in my art

I want to have Dagestan in my art

I want to ask questions with my art

I want to be a good artist

I want to have history of art in my art

I want to be productive and never stop questioning what I do

I want to study

I want to teach

I have been delaying posting this on IAA, because I got a feeling that your question and esp  the quote given was about smth else…I still cant get my head round to it … i don’t want to believe the fact that my artistic wantings may be a product of my education and brainwashing… because after Goldsmiths what I should be doing Is working with pure art and its legacy, that only certain type of audience can understand/or decode, but I went back to my cultural identity and Im trying to create works that deal with it in a not very straight forward way, because this is the only thing that make me passionate.

Partu Patimat

Dear Natalia

Thank you for sharing this personal story. Makes sense! And makes me understand your works more/the theatrical or even burlesque aspect of it.

I don’t know if this is relevant but I have recently discovered the female Dagestan military leader, second half of 14th century Partu Patimat (Partu- meaning lightning Парту Патимат)   may she is worth researching?

I have actually seen the videos of both of your works you are talking about.

“I Cant Take My Eyes, Off You”-absolutely understandable, interesting and justified decision to present yourself the way you did! Im taking my words back on that one))))

“… oh, sweet embrace, happiness is at the end of our journey”  I just don’t get it, I get the concept I get the idea, the only way I can understand it is as trying to erase any possible identity, having only bandages…which makes you a person covered in scars for this performance…


what do ‘I’ want

Dear Breda,

Dear Taus,

I can make my answers sound very abstract, devious, progmatic, strictly confidential,
but I won’t do that since I know exactly what I want.

My best wish is to make art that describes my feelings, my observations, my positions, my every day life away from labels, pragmatism, fashion, dogmatism and any kind of rubbish.

I believe that a permanent dialogue through art can bring about challenges, changes, transformations,  ideas, and a deeper, honest understanding of culture, history, and society we live in.



Dear Breda,

Dear Taus,

I really want to carry on posting something, especially giving a proper answer to your last comment, Breda, but got lucked up in the studio again. Sorry for that but at the moment this is a priority… Must finish work and send it over by the end of this week. Flying over to Moscow on Jan 17, trying to sublet my studio here before taking off. Expenses are killing me. Will write you very soon back.

Hugs. Natalia

Meat Love (for Taus)

Meat Love

This is the film I mentioned, by Jan Svanmajer, self flour and into the frying pan!



what do ‘I’ want?

Would it be possible to move from the particularities of performance art, via some general insight to a very personal question?

“All blueprints of what people should be like are at once denials of reality and attempts to create it anew. It is one of the peculiar characteristics of human wanting that it always involves being persuaded about what it is one should want. This persuasion, which takes many forms – from brainwashing to education, from seduction to conversation – is one way of describing the experience of growing up in any society.

The wanting without which human survival is impossible is symbolically organised; wanting is inextricable from what our societies tell us we should want. If our loves and hates, our likings and our curiosities, our passions and aversions ‘come under conceptual definition, manipulation and control’, then there is no natural state in which we can live, or to which we can return. Indeed, the whole notion of a natural state, or significant origin, is itself one of those culturally generated conceptual definitions.”

Whether in country of origin or in country of destination, one burning question seem to overlap – What is it that we really want?

Tais and Natalia what do you really want?

How I have become a performance artist…

Dear Taus

I have to start from the beginning. I spent my childhood in a small provincial city called Makhachkala, situated in the tiny republic of Dagestan  – a narrow stretch of land squeezed between the majestic Caucasus Mountains and the beautiful Caspian Sea whose ethnically diverse population speaks 37 mutually unintelligible languages. There was only one theatre in the city. It was named after the novelist and playwright Maxim Gorky and its main repertoire were Soviet plays full of daily-life scenes a la Socialist Realism. My mother had a friend who worked at the Gorky Theatre as a costume designer and who also made many beautiful dresses for her. We often visited the theatre’s costume design workshop, and I would spend hours wandering around the building, walking up and down the main stage, popping into makeup rooms and workshops, watching stage and scenery people working, witnessing developments in hectic backstage life.

Already then I developed tender and quivering feelings towards theatre as a SPACE you could gather the most fairytale and unworldly experience. Later in my life I would recall those magic hours I spent in the entrails of the Gorky Theatre, how I imagined myself being „Alice in Wonderland“ and how I, some day, would return to this world of supernatural forms and light.
Now, when I look back, I understand that every bullet has its billet. I don’t want to repite the rest of my story, moving to the West, study at Yale, getting together with my X partner A.Prigov, having a child, splitting up
When I think about my early performance work, it seems to me they were the most optimal mode to articulate my practices of self-transformation whereby I explored the fictional recreation of my identity and regression into my childhood’s memory. In performances I use my body as a communication medium that enables me to get reincarnated as my favorite heroes from mythology, fairytales, history and even Art history.

I have performed naked or half naked several times. Most known performance  “… oh, sweet embrace, happiness is at the end of our jorney” that I have done in Matthew Bown gallery window in Mayfair… Please find info and images in my site.

Later I made a piece “I Cant Take My Eyes, Off You” See some stills here

In this performance I had to perform almost naked in the metal container because I had to illustrate an Eastern European prostitute. This work a dedicated to the troubling issues of eastern European traffic of prostitutes to the west.


Thank you! What you say is truly relevant for the development of my project! Minimalism!!! Hell Yes!!!

The way i think of it is a merge between Minimalism and fur breakfast.

Why fur? hm, my facination is not enought? the fact that it surrounds me is not enought? the other world half-bestial references not enough? the (non)ethical side of it not enough? the recycling of private memory not enough? the soviet reality present in those garments not enough? i ll have to think more about this…

Trying to return murdered nature back into some natural context, via processing it through history of art… may be this can explain smth… for me… for you

Performance NOW!

In regards to your comment “I think before you make a statment you should analise, examine and/or dichotomize the subgect of your interest.”

I am constantly dissatisfied with my research, but i have been researching the fild of performance art for the lectures i gave at MSU last year/ 12 lectures/was the hardest thing for me/ 90 min each, it involved a lot of research to be done…and that is the examination behind the statement i made.

This is what i said “To be honest undressing for a performance piece right now doesn’t mean anything for me…it has no value, it’s a line that is now crossed with no purpose…”

Thank you for this article, here comes what I think about it

The article you send me is irrelevant to what I said and not very good, Abalakova is mixing up her own definitions, the way she describes performative speech has no reference to John Austin. How is that possible? And her language – metaphorically complex doesn’t get the reader anywhere. Its is not a theoretical or philosophical  piece, it is somewhere in the middle, which is a bad thing, its secondary…

“performer is a sensual paintbrush”- im quoting her here. Or the “destruction of the last tabooo” ???

The only more or less interesting thought in this text is that nakedness can be compared to Kleins leap into the void and showing reality, imperfections of the REAL body,  but now its irrelevant, everybody knows this!

Its absolutely true what she is saying about ritualistic, tribal references in performance, but how much longer we can be repetitive of the gestures that we have seen so many times?

I went to see Orgy of Tolerance play by Jan Fabre -naked, masturbating, shocking actions, politcly incorrect, critique of consumption… I felt NOTHING, because there was no reasoning behind it for me! And I cant remember contemporary performances, where nakedness did mean smth…

Like that cowboy performance in Baku, would it be any different if he was striking those stereotypical cowboy poses naked (like he wanted, but wasn’t let ). For me, no.

I was talking about performance TODAY And this article if full of metaphorical descriptions of problematics raised in the performance art of the 60/70 (the only later reference being Orlan- but the author doesn’t even mention that all her manipulations come from famous art works (protruding brow of Mona Lisa, etc), not any type of beauty standards, thus she is trying to create an ultimate work of art out of her body)

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I can rarely justify being naked in a performance NOW, for me, most of the time, is it a cliché of what performance art is, and an attempt to fit into this stereotype of the genre…it is an imitation…

I went to a talk by her (Abalakova-author of  the article) and her husband/they work together. I have asked few questions and they were clueless of what is going on in contemporary performative practices now… Yes they were doing interesting works in the 80-90 during the so called Moscow conceptualism movement, but critically they are cut off now, I cant blame them for it…

Thank you for this recommendation, I have spent some time on it, but I don’t feel it was worth it…

I believe that any discussion should be constructive and logical, and Im  interested in hearing YOUR own original opinion, may be in relation to your performance practice, even if it is only few thoughts…

on corporality

First excerpt is for you Natalia and probably a comment on general nakedness in the performances of the 60,70 and later on.  To be honest undressing for a performance piece right now doesn’t mean anything for me…it has no value, it’s a line that is now crossed with no purpose…

“Undressing presupposes a feeling of helplessness, vulnerability, violation of human rights, humiliation, abasement (for example, description of execution and agony of stark naked people in “One of the three is still alive” by Italo Calvino). A protective function of clothing might be of such importance that can be applied not only to an individual but also to the society as a whole (e.g., festival of the Protection of the Virgin – miraculous protection with a veil – a ”maforij” (the Church Slavonic language) of the Virgin) and inanimate things (city fortifications were called “kozukh” /enclosure/ and “ohaben’” in Old Slavonic).”

Thank you for sending me this comment, Taus. I find your statments sometimes very categoric or dogmatic if you want. I think before you make a statment you should analise, examine and/or dichotomize the subgect of your interest. I incorrage you to read this article written by Natalia Abalakova. Find bellow. I hope you will understand the notion of  corporality in performance art. Sorry, its in russian only.

Between Subget and Body

your new post


I like your new post, pictures, and the project that you are working on.

You are right, making research is important in order to develop and systemize your thinking, but at the same time it might take you of the ground, the main idea is getting lost. Maybe if you answer to yourself why FUR and why BALL, where is the connection between two? this will help you to find a deeper understanding of your idea. You know round forms like any kind of formd is a big subject for minimalism art.

Look at early work of Russian Constructivists, Rodchenko and others + Frank Stella and from today Richard Serra.

Good luck with that. Natalia

P.S. I can’t write more rith now since I have to go to the Turkish market. Speak soon. Natalia


This is the image I have in my head at the moment. For a future video.

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Giant furball in the nature, im not sure If ill be the one to roll it, or I’ll just let It roll on its own….it will be made out of different fur and sheepskin coats.

I have been thinking about this fur project. The thing that is troubling me now is that I want to collect 20-30 old fur coats and take it apart to make a ball-the taking apart of smth that holds significant memory is what I doubt. I was reading, browsing Internet on this matter and reading my Mother’s article (Patimat Gamzatov-she is an art historian) entitled “To be presented with a fur coat off the tsar’s back” I would like to give a few/very few excerpts here/  excerpts not concentrated on th act of giving a gift, sacred status of the tzar, healing through the clothes of saints, but rather on the semantic meaning of the fur coat.

First of all I must mention that this long standing tradition was a necessity in Russia (climate), rather then smth else, may be not any more, but it was before new types of materials were invented.

The word shuba/fur coat in Russian was first used in 1382, it was worn by everyone in Russia, peasants wore shuba’s from sheep and rabbit, the wealthy ones wore shuba’s from sable, marten and silver fox.

In ancient Russia fur coats were massive, big and long, it was made with the fur facing inside and the top was covered in fabric, the edges were decorated with fur. Different types of fur coats were worn for different occasions, sometimes in summer as well.

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A shot from a new film by Lungin “Tzar” about Ivan the Terrible.

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A painting of Ivan the terrible by Vasnetsov

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My photo of an old fur coat from Dagestan Museum of Arts

First excerpt is for you Natalia and probably a comment on general nakedness in the performances of the 60,70 and later on.  To be honest undressing for a performance piece right now doesn’t mean anything for me…it has no value, it’s a line that is now crossed with no purpose…

“Undressing presupposes a feeling of helplessness, vulnerability, violation of human rights, humiliation, abasement (for example, description of execution and agony of stark naked people in “One of the three is still alive” by Italo Calvino). A protective function of clothing might be of such importance that can be applied not only to an individual but also to the society as a whole (e.g., festival of the Protection of the Virgin – miraculous protection with a veil – a ”maforij” (the Church Slavonic language) of the Virgin) and inanimate things (city fortifications were called “kozukh” /enclosure/ and “ohaben’” in Old Slavonic).”

On the Russian fur coat.

“In Russia a fur coat was used as a particular type of ritual clothing in rites that followed a model of “transition rites” in seasonal calendar festivals. Fur coats for royal coronation and royal wedding had a special meaning. According to S.V. Gorozhanina and L.M. Zajtseva, researching in the field of Russian folk wedding costume, a ritual meaning of fur used to symbolize reproduction and prosperity. Fur coats were used even during summer wedding ceremonies. According to a number of local customs and traditions, parents wore fur coats turned inside out to meet a newly-married couple from the church and gave their blessing to them, having planted them on a fur coat and chanting: “a fur coat is warm and shaggy, live in harmony and in clover” (“Russian folk wedding costume” by S.V. Gorozhanina and L.M. Zajtseva, Moscow, 2003).

It is necessary to note that turning fur coats inside out is a characteristic ritual in a great many ethnic rites that marks representatives of the other world (evil spirits in a number of cases) who often look half-bestial according to popular beliefs.”

Here! Turning the fur coat inside out is what we are wearing now, so I am walking among evil spirits on the underground.

I  don’t want to go on with quotes, but after my tiny research im not sure I have the authority to take apart smth that is so loaded with not only history, but personal memory…damn…damn the ethics?  Is this awareness makes my recycling gesture more loaded with meanings? Natalia over to you!!!

Dogs that want to bite)

Im glad you had fun watching the video)))


Dance Baby, Dance!

[flickr video=4255315536]


I actually feel the same urge to dance when i hear Lezginka)))

It is interesting what you are saying about hiding your real identity, i have encountered that a couple of times in Lndn, ppl do not acknowledge themselves as russians, esp girls, probably because of stereotypes, i got really disgusting grins a few times after saying i was from Russia. Its funny how ppl try to hide their identity and would speak english, in order to be universal, global, in order to belong…Like there is a sense of being incomplete or lacking smth. I read a comment on FaceBook by Megha Joshi that while reading through dialogues she got a sense of guilt from the artists who left the country, and live in better conditions…but how does it work backwards, why would one hide identity, why would one try to “dress odd so no one can guess in what language they can speak to …”   May be sometimes you cant be bothered to explain where you from, why, and that you are not in love with the 1st world country you are in at the moment…







writing with delay

Dear Taus

I am glad you are back on your feet… Once you are standing on your two feet next step is finding your center. This could be much more difficult. I encourage you to start making yoga exesizes, it helps a lot.

You know, the notion of identity has been extremely important to me for the last 5 years. I have done a lot of work dedicated to this subject, but this was more of a game since my photographic series Sono Straniera (I am a Foreigner) that I shoot between 2004 and 2005 brought me to the point when I start “playing identity” in every day life not only in front of the camera. In real life I have got a conflict between the two, or multiple identities’ I carry. This conflict leaded me to finalize who I have become. Now I can say I have become a total hybrid. Western because I have become a very private person, I don’t speak too much about my relationships, I don’t ask too many private questions when I see someone for the first time, I never ask about age, I only allow myself to say hallo to my neighbors, I never mix too much with immigrants, people coming from my region or Russia, I hide my identity, I dress odd so no one can guess in what language they can speak to me…
But when I hear national music I immediately start to dance plus I don’t celebrate X-Mass…


Real Objects

My today)

[flickr video=4251244431]

[flickr video=4252065004]

[flickr video=4252057424]



Im getting back on my feet.

It was definitely the party i went to tonight, people around me make me feel normal)

Taus Makhacheva

Got a drunk drawing from smn)

About your work, sounds interesting, i want to ask millions of questions now to understand your choices in this particular work, but i wont, because you dont have time for replies, ill do it when i see you here.

Its interesting what you are saying about acting out an identity, i feel that i do that sometimes…, BUT I so diagree with you on the mannishiness of the western women, it is such a superficial thing to say, and even if in general russian women are more obsessed with looks and stereotypical female tender behavior, then others, i see it as a bad thing (its not real for me, its acted out most of the time, like acted out identity).  Smb once told me that Russian women are so obsessed with the outer because they feel that russian man dont notice them, but its not because they are not sexy enough, its because russian man drink too much vodka, stupid joke i know…

As for Olga Chernisheva work, i know/saw the one you are talking about, i can visualize it now.That photographic work, but im not sure i saw the video you are talking about. What i find amazing about her videos is the way she work, she is like an anthropologist. Walks around with her camera and shoots with no preparations or set ups, soots something completely disbalanced/outofplace, like a woman frozen in the crowd, strange cheer-leader girls at the parade next to young boys in soldiers uniforms. Technically it is all accidental, but i cant be so dismissive to call it that way. She sees and shows current social state very well, and for me she is a conceptual artist. I would not allow this approach to my work, but may be it is a weakness, me  being a control freak and naively believing in the modernist act of creating an artwork.

Ill try filming fur and post it. As part of my research i have been reading an article about tzars giving fur coats as gifts, ill write about it tmrw…




Dear Taus

Yes, I am lacked up in the studio. Made a lot of progress, which is great since I really needed to move on and start to visualize my idea.

The idea behind this installation (called MADAMMESS) is to introduce famous, female icons coming from both WEST and EAST Europe.

I have shortened my list to 9 figures in total. Among them Russian poetress Anna Akhmatova, Lili Brick, Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in Cosmos), Princess Dianna, Romy Schnaider (German actress) La Cicciolina Ilona Staller (porn star, X wife of Jeff Koons), Anna Magnani, Sophie Loren and Brigitte Bardot. I had to kick out Diana Arbus (shame though), Paloma Picasso, and Marguerite Peggy Guggenheim. My idea is to make for each an ALTAR out of images and text or one single image that will represents my heroine. I have selected more then, I don’t know thousands of images that often appeared on pages of glance magazines, memoir books, film and porn magazines, as well as Internet. I am up to make a large-scale collage 9 m2 inside of “bytovka” which is a toilet, container for builders. In this container the walls will be covered with my pin ups, objects and text. I am spraying a lot and this is new for me. I think spray give a new dimension to the picture and gives extra, substantial meaning. It makes it totally rough and at the same time alive. I had to learn by practicing how to use spray. Trying not to spay my hands too much as it is difficult to take it the color. I am using acryl for writing the text.

The video link of a song I’ve posted before, singing part performed by Barbara Brilska was part of my research. I personally think she did an amazing job acting single Russian woman although she is polish. Although the song she sings vocalized  by known Russina pop singer Allah Pugacheva. In any case I really like her singing for a man in the way she does. First she does it with tenderness and moderateness, which is very typical for Russian women. This makes them very different, don’t you think? I think WESTERN women like to play tough especially German and this makes them extremely unattractive, mannish. Sometimes I see they just began to reflect the 80’s feminists movement in the states.

As to your idea with collecting old soviet fur coat–and making it into smth for a video. I remember one photographic project by Russian Contemporary artist Olga Chernysheva. She made a series of photograph of women wearing these coats and fur heats. There was a video by don’t remember who showing this image. I think first you need to develop the idea. Try to film fur first, maybe you will find a clue.

Speak soon. have a nice day, Taus

lost it


i wasnt able able to write, i have so lost it, im up all night staring at my laptop screen, and sleep throught a day. I do whatever is necessary to keep up, but no extra activity. It feels like i was unplugged.

I envy that you are locked up now and working, i crave this, but it seems too big as an effort for me.

It seems like all my tiredness from sleepless nights, streess, brain activity has crashed on me at once, and i just want to be brain dead. I should take it as a necessary rest, and i will.

im looking forward to discussing your idea.

Im thinking about collecting old soviet furcoat-i found quite a bit on the internet-and making it into smth for a video.

In regards to you link of Barbara Brylska-she is polish, soviet, russian-its multiple identity-like we all at IAA, some more then others.

Are you still locked up and working?

Hug from -20 C


Women Icons

she is the russian one, or eastern europian

what do you think, taus?

remember me…


I remember you, don’t worry. I see you remember me?

CHA, Central House for Artists is a good place to exhibit. CHA pays artist and they cover production costs. Which is very rare, you know.Why do you think I faded away again after writing you my last pos. Do you remember I wrote you about buying material for my new installation??? Taus, I spent most of my time in the studio and I am so happy for it.

Yes, it was me who told the main curator of CHA, Tatiana Ryabukhina about you attending a demonstration against demolishing CHA…  I am glad that you will be showing your work there, Taus and it was a pleasure to recomend you, don’t mentione. We just need to produce our ideas. I liked your work with eyebrows. Did you make stills or any other documentation. I have simular work calld The Mask of Subgectivity. I have to send you pics…

but not now, please. I really want to focus on working in the studio. Becoming an skillfull sprayer ))

POLITIKA-POETICA is one of ideas I would like to discuss with you when we meet again. Just remind me.

At the moment I am a prisoner of my work. I didn’t go out for some days, can’t register for how many days now. My boyfriend is feeding me in the studio, when he remembers that I am still alive. No, no, he understands why I went crazy, locked myself up in the studio. He knows I really need this now.

All NY eve I end up spraying, as the firework outside continue to shoot. I had fantastic time, Taus! I have managed to prepare a few new pallets for my collage, for the installation I am making fo CHA. Many new ideas where catching me as I was working my way out, I couldn’t stop producing.
In some point I have noticed that the sound of the firework outside have gotten more and more intensive. This was the time to open the bottle. 2010 was calling me up. NATALIA! Russian Salat? Well, I had none this year. I only had a picture of yours))) Thank you, darling for posting it. I am getting hungry now.  Hope my boyfriend Heiner will come soon. Write more soon. Natalia

Memory junk

i woke up about 4pm, got myself out of bed, went to see my Mom, then my ill aunt at her place. My cousin was there throwing away so many things,  i have practically dragged it out of rubbish bags…it felt like she was throwing away memory, her sisters toys and childhood collection of small calendars, gum inserts, old badges, utensils-the mincing machine that my grandmother used, old clothes…I got so angry at her, and i still am…because this is no junk to me…this is memory…that you cant throw away…i don’t believe in photography as means of capturing memory, but objects are different…they hold so much more…

Pic of some things i have rescued…

Taus Makhacheva

NY and YOU

New year was nice and strange.

First part i have spent with my Mother, who is currently in Moscow, with alcohol free champagne and Russian salad, second part was with artist friends in ex-Kabakov studio, i have met most of my Moscow friends through institute of problems in contemporary art)))/in short ICA Moscow, which is organized by Joseph Backstein (he is a commissioner of Moscow biennial). It offers 1 year courses for artists/3 lectures per week, and that’s one of the few institutions (note: no diplomas of higher education or anything like that given!) that offer good education for contemporary artist/nothing else/all the state schools are about skill and are lacking any conceptual awareness whatsoever.  I have been thinking about this situation for some time…On the other hand its easier in Moscow in Dagestan to create an artistic name, because there is no constant inflow of fresh out of college artists, there are no art colleges, and the art community is tiny, compared to any other country…but then if you think on grand scale, all the fame/popularity one can built here, means nothing in the West, nothing…i sometimes wonder why russian artists are selected to participate in Documenta, is it pure politics!?

Ohhhh shushsss….i wanted to write a post about NY party, but drifted away again.

Well anyway few pics from the party) I ended up drinking all night, and going home by tube at 8 am. Was strange, too many random ppl showed up, and it was weird trying to navigate yourself… when you expect only your friends it feels like strangers are forced upon you… and when you are drained by life there is no energy to be curious about someone else…

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

How are you my friend? I must thank you for sending me the details of Central House of Artist curator, i have met her few days ago and they want me. So thank you very much for pushing me forward in many ways.  We will be in the same show in january). She also said that she knew i was at their protest against demolition of Central House of Artist… did you tell her?)

The thing i love about you is that you are honestly so open, who else would have cared to get me show anywhere, in the essence im no one to you. Who else would have made this effort? The art world i tend to see is full of self absorber, pretentious people that never GIVE without a reason. This is what is fascinating about you Natalia, you can just GIVE!

BLUE moon, New Ear

Hazem and all at IAA:

Cambridge BLUE moon, turning the last  pages of the 2009!

Issam Kourbaj

Issam Kourbaj

Issam Kourbaj

Issam Kourbaj

Wishing you many inspiring days in the coming year, and a very Happy New Ear (as my son. profoundly,  used to say!)


Russian Salad!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Throwing a handful of Russian salad over the net to you!

Taus Makhacheva

Let Us all end up face down in our own Russian salad tonight!


Happy New Year!

Natalia, George, Heiner!

Have a wonderful year!

Here comes the Ded Moroz and two Snegulochka’s!

Taus Makhacheva

I know the bigger Snegurochka looks so perverse!!! Made me think about the relationships between Ded Moroz (Grandfather Cold) and Snegurochka (Snow girls)…i looked it up in russian wikipedia,  apparently in the old slavic (polytheism) tradition she was considered a daughter of Ded Moroz  and Winter goddess. In the folklore tradition she a girl from fairy tale that was made out of snow and came alive. As the one that always follows Ded Moroz she appeared in 1937 for a first time…. first as a girl, and later on as a woman…)))  Snegurochkas are HOT)))

HUGs, Have a very HOT year)


Happy new year/weaving/webs/net


When you feel everything is somehow connected and we are all joining a big net
life takes another meaning. This project is a big net that is full of significance also.
I love being part of this, and it is nice to read and get to know others process and thoughts.

I Wish you all a wonderful new year; truly great, full of adventures, joy, neverending curiosity for things to come, creativity, love and inner peace!

best wishes from Colombia



A new idea that we can think do develope together in the NY. Politika-Poetika. This idea comes from my research about woman icons.

Look at the couples I have posted.





Here it comes.

I must admit IAA dialogue was an incredible possibility for us not only discuss our hairy legs)) but also get closer as friends, professionals and colleagues. I want to thank you for all your support and the IAA team of cause for giving us this chance.

Happy New Year to you Taus, to your husband Gimbat, to your lovely mom Patimat and to the rest of your familly.


Happy New Year 2010 !

Best wishes for the coming new year !


Andro Semeiko

Transmitter_BASE2F, by Yu-Chen Wang and Andro Semeiko, 2009

Busyness with business

Architecture/expansion- to be honest i dont think its  a caucasian thing,  i do remember seeing some photos of similar expansions in Brazil…may be they are different, but i need to investigate this more…may be they serve as a shelter in poor areas, but here we have a different situation, its middle class that expands mostly…but i do not have enough knowledge to make a judgment…

Ha Ha i got it, the coincidence оа expansion of the living space and IAA extending for another month, so it can accommodate more guests, more ideas, more potentials)

I can see that you are busy, and IAA does take up some time, but we cant be doing what we are doing now, there are so many questions left hanging in mid-air/may be its my fault, because i have more time on my hands then you/or i just sleep less at night)))) We should get to a bottom of at least ONE subject/ we cant touch briefly many things and then run off, its too random for me, for you, i cant concentrate like that…We can develop any idea we already spoke about deeper and then something will spark, i swear!!! What do you think?

Assuming IAA will not end on the 31 ) my full of tears thank YOU letter, is so out of place…arhhh (back to my cynical self now) but “what was written with a pen cant be taken out with an axe ”  russian saying)

What are you doing for a Paris show? i have only been there on the school trip, and dont remember anything(

ohhh i have been in Afisha recently, sorry for boasting/ you probably was there as well))) with a bigger pic)))) but im just so proud of it) im number 7))))

Taus Makhacheva

P.S. You are not interested in carrying on the discussion about Karakul, i have so many questions…? im especially interested what you ment about the way i edit, btw i didn’t thank you for the criticism)))

Nâzım Hikmet Ran

Been reading his poetry after you posted this link, beautiful, so full of grace and position.

Video…i dont know what to say, i liked it seems like not a worthy comment, im an idiot…what do you want me to say?

The merge between words and music is amazing, such a strong political statement…

new music

listen to this, taus. tell me what you think

your last post

Dear Taus

Sorry for being in silence…

X-Mass holidays and the rest put me completely out of order.

I wanted to comment on your previous post “Expansion of the private space/Architecture”.
I totally liked those images you posted.  I remember seeing the same houses in Tiflis, Georgia, Baku, and Azerbajzhan and now in Makhachkala. Do you think this method of extending living spaces is typical for Caucasus region countries?

I think the reason to extend your privite space comes from the tradition to have visitors. the notion of having a guest room seems to be solved ))

Today I have got an email from IAA asking about extending our LIVE dialogue. I find this coincidence extremely funny, don’t you think?

I promise to be more active online and articulating my ideas after X-Mass and now NY holidays over.
Not an easy think to promise especially when you I so many things going and lined up for shows untill Murch.

After Moscow I will be showing my work in Paris.  Was preparing lots of material for the catalogue and sending it out. It looks like this is all done and now I can concentrate on my installation MADAMMESS  which will be open for public in mid Jan.  Yesterday I received an email from Moscow space CHA asking if I can write a text about my work for the press, i.e. magazine AFISHA, an alternative to London Time Out.

I don’t even know when I am supposed to find time to actually work? Can anybody help. SOS!


Its 29 and the idea of the IAA end feels like being tied up in a dark room and having a drop of water falling on my head from the ceiling every 5 seconds.

Nobody talks about it in the dialogue, but its there. The desire to make to the finals, the race, the end, the prize of exhibiting There.

I dont know if i have anything to say about this, but i think it inevitably influenses me, probably my writing as well, but i think what is more valuable to me is the sense of beeing read, beeing look at, as a whole, as a sometimes very rude, direct and incorrect sometimes. This sense and these numbers of people reading IAA is the most inspiring thing to me. I make this extra effort, after the day of working, running around and solving art related, non art related issues, to come home and spend hours here, showing how i live, how i think, what do i do, how the place that im from shaped my way of thinking.

Of course the desire to make it to the final selection is there, but what is more important to me is YOU, YOU on the outside of me who is reading this…This panopticon prison gives me so much strength, i can hear you breathing…i can feel you watching, and in the end of the day its doesnt matter if i make to the finals, i know what i gained from this, its the sense of value in my work that i dont always feel without spotlight…

I want to thank the chance for feeling value in what I do.

Im not usually that active, with exhibitions, ideas, sketches of thoughts, and this is an extra push to realise my ideas, because I feel watched, because there is a strong sense of purpose for art that I do. Often its so easy to curl on the imaginary sofa, and let the projects pass by thinking that’s its not, it its not it, not that consept and so on…But this sense of being watched made me so active and destroyed the inner constantly doubting child.  I dont know if ill be able to sustain this new ME after 31 of december, but i felt and saw that i can be more then i was… thank YOU

Expansion of the private space/Architecture

I wanted to post these images while in Dagestan, but didnt get a chance to think it over.

Everywhere you go private spaces seem to expand into public.  Im not talking about the dangers if any seismic activities take place. My relative recently built a house in Makhachkala and their neighbor used one of their walls as his, i would i assume its a big money saving quest having a 3 wall house!?))) It just fasinates me how one can expand  a 2 bedroom flat on the 3rd floor into 3 bedroom one. I saw the same expansions in Baku. Anywhere you go sidewalk can be smb’s living room, and its the most bizarre thing to me.

Taus Makhacheva

The architecture of the city in general seems crazy, rich areas are full of fairytale castles i dreamt living in when little, but mature people built and live in spaces like that now!

Taus Makhacheva

Another types of buildings in Dagestan facinate me, if you travel around the republic you will see unfinished, abandoned houses standing in the middle of nowhere, for me they are like monuments to the ambitions. People start builing with amazing expectations, hopes not thinking whether they can end it, usually they cant…

Taus Makhacheva

And the last img just for fun/dental clinic

Taus Makhacheva

video reply

Dear Natalia thank you for watching the work.

How can you know that the critics vision is limited if you haven’t read the text? Actually its a shame you havent, because three aspects you have talked about are mentioned there and we could have started the discussion from a different point…  You are right about sexuality, masculinity, anthropology, fur, your references to Freud work and observation ( i was into horse riding at that age, and thats why i looked into it later on). Im not sure the Lacan’s theory of female as the lacking one is particularly relevant… but if you see it.

Although i dont remeber talking about traditional Dagestan wedding in relation to this piece, may be you are talking about a space of celebration work? in this case its my ongoing obsession with veiling and covering up. Like the work that i showed at the opening yesterday, i had henna on my face and in way this was veiling, you erase your face on one hand and you make it extremely visible on the other.

I dont really see a point in mixing documentary footage with this somewhat strange relationship between two species…? why would i want to do that? may be thats a scetchbook reference, but not more then that, there is no need to illustrate the path you undergo while getting to a result…and including documentary footage would do exactly that…no?

As for editing, can you make your point clearer?  You are trying to say that i cant switch from close up to an overall view in an instant, then how do you think i should edit… are you talking about movement of the camera? In terms of, to quote you”cuts could be clearer to point this tension” “this” meaning seemingly sexual relationship? if so this is not the whole story to me, another key is repetition, mimicry-that is a base of our language, and the relationship is an attempt to establish this language via repetition.

To qote you again “When you cut try to make a link between the visual material and your idea.” what exactly is not clear? sexuality is not only dimension that i was concentrated on in this work, see above.

Its interesting that you mention editing, because i was going on about it before in IAA, about attempting to have a clearer storyboard for my next video and having more structure… this would mean a different approach to editing as well. But then i fear falling into filmic plot/narrative/culmination structure…

your video work Karakul

Would love to hear some feedback about this work. Natalia?

Dear Taus, I watched your video “Karakul” in a short version.
Sorry, I don’t like to read critic’s highlights because to me it’s a personal vision of the work and in some ways a very limited one.
In your video I saw lot of connotations, metaphors for sexuality.
To me this video works as an anthropological study. You’re demonstrating a female body covered with karakul like an archaic men’s body from the Caucasus region.  In old times men as you know always wear Karakul or burka made out of sheep’s wool and his hat is made out of karakul. In your case you reverse this, suggesting a “masculinity complex”, the coverage is not only covering the female body, it’s hiding her personality, her identity, her Eros. The hope of some day obtaining a penis in spite of everything and so of becoming like a man…  You never offer us to see her real face that would be a nice new opening.
Like a bride’s head in Muslim traditional weddings (in your case in Dagestan style wedding) the face of a bride should be covered until the ceremony is over. Maybe here you could’ve show us some footage from a traditional Dagestan Wedding… (I remember once you mentioned that your idea comes from this image) it could be very intimate and at the same time show us the link.
I remember that image from my childhood. The role of the horse is an obvious one. The horse becomes a link between suggested, but yet still phantom man and a woman. The female’s body represents the bride (according to Caucasus traditions a woman is taken on a horse and delivered to the men’s house).  The relationship between them is an interesting illustration of Freud’s theory * see his paper “Female Sexuality” (1913) where he gives an example of a strong bound between young girls age 10-16 and a horse. There is an interesting contrast between the behavior of the two sexes.  A female sexual addiction to the horse and a horse acting as a savior, the male figure…
I thing the cuts could be clearer to point this tension. When you cut try to make a link between the visual material and your idea. Going from close up to total is not enough to make a montage.


Opening Save As…

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

“Soviet Champaign” its not like real champaign, its carbonated alcohol

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

one of my works on the left, my face was painted with henna and it stayed that way for about 2 weeks

Taus Makhacheva

My artist friends) Alexandr Povzner (its his artist run space where the show took place), Arseniy Zhilyaev, Nadezhda Busheneva. Alexandr and Nadezhda organized this show.


good luck with your opening, taus. I really want to see it. Natalia


Well, i must say it didnt work out the way i planned it.

Latex didnt work, mastic as well (its good for making extra facial features though…might try to enlarge my nose…)

I ended up using body glue for latex that i bought, it looked ok, but my mistake was that i decided to put make up over it (so it would cover up the shiny glue bits that were still visible. Big mistake! It looked like a burn with hair in the middle of my forehead (not in the pic) so i took it all off  after that, ill try another method, its like sewing real hear onto net, this should work and ill be able to use it as many times as i want. It was funny when i was gluing my hair few time i used not the ones i collected before but the ones i plucked out 1 sec before from my eyebrows, strange displacement…))))

Taus Makhacheva


I have just checked a link a posted some time ago to my website, and its not working(

Here are some excerpts from my video Karakul via flickr. I was struggling so much while cutting it to 90 seconds, in russian i would say my heart was bleeding, but there is no equivalent to this phrase in english.

[flickr video=4215974080]

camerawork by A.Sinyagin

A “little”) bit on the concept behind it. From the article about this work in Antennae/The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, you can read full version here

In her project  Taus explores borders and main features of humanity through the relationship between a strange unsociable, anthropomorphic creature, covered by gray karakul fur, a sort of   “Snow man” and a horse, which embodies a domestic animal. «Karakul» is the Turkic word meaning astrakhan fur in Russian. It is usually black fur of the Karakul breed of lambs (rarely it may be brown or gray) used for coats. In Caucasus, where Taus is from, karakul fur is commonly used to make traditional hats for men.  The use of gray fur to make these hats is considered to give the hats a more precious and high quality status. Culturally, wearing fur illustrates our ancient and strong connection with the world of nature.  There are also many legends about the love between the daughter of a fairy forest king and a hunter. Sometimes she is a beautiful girl, while at other times she appears as an animal. In folklore this image embodies the spirit of nature. These are only some associations and the story takes many other forms. In Taus’s project there are no direct symbols referring to any particular myth or story.

With the help of culture we build a hierarchy which creates subordination. One becomes able to position oneself according to the other, self-identify oneself and understand his own intentions and desires in existence. In the film that “one” is SHE – that is her point of view, her problem and her decision. Why do I use “her and she”? Because the person covered in Karakul fur is not sexless.  It is a girl or a woman. But who is the horse? There is a deep cultural tradition of representing man – bridegroom, fiancé as a horse and also folk and romantic representations of sexual relationships use the symbolism of riding horseback. In the film the horse is not standard brown or black. It is beautiful and colored white – gray or ritual marriage colors! And there is color closeness between him and karakul fur of a girl – creature. But what is the way of understanding and accepting one another in this relationship? They are somewhat natural beings, but there is no sexual uncontrolled passion between them as a base of male – female attractiveness, so often used to interpret relationships in modern culture. Relations of the creature and the horse are full of humanity, intention to understanding, full of mental and emotional sincerity. They meet each other, they try to understand each other, to grasp the best features of humanity in that relationship and to overcome loneliness of the modern man, or Homo Sapiens in general.

«Anthropomorphous » repeats all movements after the horse. What does that process mean?  Spectators of the video may feel that is a very human, very sociable way to be together. Of course our artist intuitively feels that method, but she is also right as a scientist.

Process may be explained through the reference to the modern scientific explorations of the functions of the brain’s mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons, as their discoverer G. Rizzolatti considers, serve for understanding of actions, senses and emotions of other people and relate to imitation and mimicry. Following this theory empathy and sympathy are the basis of our nature and the way for understanding and accepting of ones nature.

Copying of gestures, mimicry, and intonations are part of confiding intercourse and intimacy between people.

So the creature understood one of the models of gender and human relations. Is this relationship structure convenient and interesting for the creature? Would she stay with the horse-person or would she leave? Be together or be separated?

She sets a question about scopes and aims of humanity, about scopes and aims of gender relations. She tries to understand the specifics and features of social and natural.

Would love to hear some feedback about this work. Natalia?

Save As…

Thank you. I was so desperate to have a dialogue, not a monologue.

therapist? how about art counseling? or tutor?

big red good quality acrylic paint))))

im struggling now with latex, been trying to dry with a hairdryer and now its all over me. will see if can do smth for tmrw opening. The show is called Save As. We will be showing 1st drafts, sketches for different art projects, paintings, installations, photos, first steps in projects that later on developed into smth bigger or just stayed in the ideas folder on your computer.

Work well



This dialogue sounds like a brainstorm or something that has been taken out of mouth without a license.
Well done ,Taus ,you could’ve been a good therapist.

I must thank you for that night storm, bombarding me like a Katusha. It was no so easy for me to get out to talk.

Today I am in much better mood. Back in working on my installation, playing with kids (one is visiting for overnight)

and mixing my favorite red, god quality acryl…

Late night Gmail chat

I know its a lot to get through)

12:23 AM
me: I feel that we only once had a real dialogue on IAA, it was the Skype one, all the rest of the time you seem to be avoiding it…
12:24 AM
me: why did you post that link?
12:29 AM
natalia: no im not running away, just depression
natalia: im reading your project about hair
me: ok
I wouldn’t call it a project I would name it art practice based research
12:32 AM
natalia: what about motorbike? Are you loosing your mind?
What are you going to do with this research?
Or you are just collecting material?
12:35 AM
me: new project will come out of it, this is how I develop projects
12:36 AM
Motorbike is just a joke)
12:37 AM
natalia: develop and what next?
Is that what you want to talk about, development?
12:41 AM
me: next…the projects will not be oneliners, everything starts off as smth small and develops into smth deeper.
Yes, that what I would like to talk about, and may be you can reply to the question you have been thinking about after our skype chat?
12:42 AM
I have asked you some time ago on IAA how do you develop your projects?
natalia: meaning?
me: well you don’t just collect random props and then shoot any photo project?
natalia: im just very sad that the artist from Central Asia is being imprisoned, I’m saying this in relation to the link I sent you
me: how do you start your projects and how do you develop them?
This is not the first time artist been imprisoned
natalia: im very sad that the artist is despised for their way of life
me: its Soviet Union
12:43 AM
natalia: Im very upset that artists have no rights, artists were the only people who care about the rights and freedoms making their choices
natalia: the case is that the artist is outside the field of vision and the artist is ignored
me: let go back IAA questions
natalia: why when the artist dies he/she expands, there is immediate attention
me: its always been like that, one has to die in order to sell)
12:45 AM
me: Let go back to our questions?
12:47 AM
natalia: it is just a matter of what you see as art
12:48 AM
me: but the question was about klukva? And development of your projects, that what I wrote:
In terms of developing my own works, i have been talking to ppl and thinking about different approaches to video editing, because it can destroy or create the work, been talking about the way I shoot my works/productions, chaos should not be present in the storyboard or actual filming, it will not just happen if you have all the ingredients, you have to add them gradually, YOU meaning ME, and Im scared to do that sometimes. The next work I make…I will do very differently, I want to try a less chaotic approach where just having the ingredients… is not enough…You cant just find smth slap it together and hope that in the end smth will burst…there are exercises and works of art, and in order to get from one point to another you have to have a structure…Natalia, how do you work? How do you shoot your photographic projects, prepare performances?
It’s a matter of what you see as art is not an answer
Do you have an opinion about your own works?
12:50 AM
me: how do you know that you are not exploiting traditional culture, thinking for example about performance in Baku?
natalia: I have an opinion, but im not going to discuss it on IAA.
me: why?
natalia: im just not interested in this discussion
me: if I talk about my mistakes and ways of thinking, why cant you?
What are you interested in then?
12:51 AM
natalia: I cant talk about flowers, weather and smth else for ages)
me: but not art?
natalia: its not a matter of talking about your mistakes, the matter is that its private, why should it be interesting
me: because the IAA is about this, about the way we work, about us as artists, not about weather forecast…
12:52 AM
natalia: artist works in the condition that they accumulated for years, and this condition should only be discussed after their death
me: NO NO NO
natalia: or like Joseph Beuys, who discussed issues you are talking about publicly, giving talks
me: it’s a healthy artistic self-consciousness
natalia: but nobody writes about it
me: People write about it, I wrote on IAA about it, you can reply…
12:53 AM
natalia: well I never read anything like that anyway
me: why should you be like everyone anyway?
natalia: why you want to be like everyone else?
12:54 AM
me: then you should not be like everyone and write about the unwritten!
natalia: you are not in college anymore, Goldsmith…
me: ofcourse im not in college, but I think and reflect, and that how I develop my ideas. It was different in College, if you don’t remember.
12:55 AM
natalia: practice is not what you think it is, it’s a constant conversation with yourself, do you understand? It much more difficult!
me: you helped me as well to start thinking and im trying to pay you back now. But seem to escape, because you don’t have the answers, but I don’t need answers. It’s a discussion out of questions.
natalia: its just boring to talk in order to get a good mark
12:56 AM
natalia: its hard to talk for me right now, because im in the dead end
12:57 AM
natalia: I don’t have enough air to create things
me: may be we can talk about this dead end?
natalia: I need to seclude myself and think, read, work with images for hours, I cant describe this process, its boring…
12:58 AM
natalia: im working on a big project now, I had an idea for it since 2007
12:59 AM
natalia: artist is an egoist, selfish… I cant write about that, it is clear
me: ok, will you answer the questions about how do you work? Or the Klukva one?
1:02 AM
natalia: Yes
me: im waiting
natalia: go home
me: no
1:03 AM
natalia: i am preparing an installation which takes time to make
1:04 AM
me: stop moaning
1:05 AM
natalia: i am not
natalia: sorry this is how it goes
1:06 AM
me: no this is you being lazy, you can talk about anything but not art
natalia: my head is full of images out of which I am creating a dialogue between the women i have selected for my installation
1:07 AM
me: write about that…that will be the answer to the question of how you work, and it is a good work, you should talk about it.
1:08 AM
natalia: any work of art is a child
me: ?
natalia: the child which i have to protect
natalia: before it goes public
1:09 AM
me: no
natalia: yes
me: by talking about this child you will make it more intelligent and deeper then it already is.
1:10 AM
natalia: the child has to grow
me: and how it will grow without talking
natalia: it grows bigger every day
1:11 AM
me: how it will grow without knowledge, by increasing the amount of images used or by your critical thinking? or by critical discussion you encounter?
natalia: first you have to analyze
natalia: both
1:12 AM
me: then why do you refuse to talk about your child if you say both?
natalia: i cant be critical at this point, since its a very fragile material
me: but I can and it might develop (or might not) your work, that’s the whole point.
For example if you think my idea with hair is shit and been done millions of times, say it but say why…and it will help me
1:13 AM
natalia: I can speak to you privately since you are my child too)))
me: im not your child and its not funny you are trying to run away again.)
natalia: i am not
me: you so are
natalia: don’t be so cruel
1:14 AM
me: But this is the only way. That’s why i said what i honestly thought about your performance in Baku, even though i didn’t want to hurt you. Criticism doesn’t destroy your work it will make this or next one stronger. That’s the only way to develop your next work
1:15 AM
natalia: Sure, but at this point the work I am making is not ready for public display
me: yes but its discussible
natalia: discussion?
me: we can talk about ideas behind it
1:16 AM
natalia: you didn’t hurt me with your opinion about Baku
1:17 AM
me: yes i know but i could have said great etc, like most of the ppl, but that would be a lie and it wouldn’t help you
natalia: cause first I don’t think it was valuated
me: what do you mean?
natalia: it was an improvised work
me: yes, I remember, because of admin constant mistakes.
1:18 AM
natalia: something that needed to be developed
me: I believe that every work of art has and can be developed. i didn’t get to my video works just out of the blue, i have been working in photography for a while and have massive archive of different ideas i realized with help of photography, that’s where my videos came from.
me: but why do you refuse to talk about your current project, its amazing what you feel about those women you have chosen for it? Amazing famous women that created our history.
natalia: and there was no possibility for the development in Baku
natalia: I liked working with kids(dancers, they were just kids) and all our dialogues where much more interesting then the performance itself
1:19 AM
natalia: I still think that the idea behind this work was very strong and deep
1:20 AM
natalia: i can see from your pictures that you couldn’t grasp the idea
but this is ok
1:21 AM
natalia: the way I develop idea comes more from a concept of how i make it
natalia: the process. Which I learned from DA PRIGOV
me: so you find idea in the process of making?
1:22 AM
natalia: what was the idea i didn’t get? can you say it now, so i would get it?
natalia: the idea of baku performance was the collaboration with local the kids. Who only know how to dance national/traditional dance.
1:23 AM
natalia: when i asked them what is modern for them they didn’t had a clue. Although they knew about moonwalk and this was their knowledge about contemporary dance
me: So if that was the idea, why didn’t we see it? why didn’t you make a film about talking to them? if that communication was the idea.
1:24 AM
natalia: here we come to the question what the pop culture does
me: No, we come to the question Where Was Your Work?
If the communication with kids was your work, why didn’t the viewers get it, why didn’t you make a film about it or smth else?
natalia: the idea that I just had one meeting with these kids and they showed me the steps which i improvised a bit, not much and show in a different context
1:26 AM
me: so that was the idea? Different context?
natalia: my work was behind the scene
me: and?
1:27 AM
natalia: practicing with local kids live would be more interesting
me: Tino Sehgals work, he is also behind the scenes…
natalia: the photographs when i practice live with them where very interesting. There was so much tension. Sehgal of cause he never shows up.
me: so may be that was the work, the practice? not the performance? But the big NONO for me then is that you didn’t intend it that way,
natalia: but he gives the text and he finds the venue, Sehgal.
me: he gives verbal instructions and practices with the performers
1:29 AM
natalia: for me the performance worked out well, because I knew from which point I started and where we arrived. There was a strong bound between us.
1:30 AM
natalia: Sehgal gives a lot of freedom to the performer
natalia: but he chooses to context
me: I “lied” (here comes the question of lies in art) that I was a journalist and did an interview with him for my dissertation in London.
1:32 AM
me: why didnt you make a work about this bond, if that was the most important?
natalia: no time to think
me: if the communication with kids was the most important may be the work of art can be a film about it or a diary where you would describe the communication?
1:33 AM
natalia: maybe, i like the pictures, some of them are very strong.
me: im not suggesting you a work you should do im just discussing it…
natalia: especially when you photograph the process
the first meeting with them
1:34 AM
me: great. That’s the response you want? But what was your work?
natalia: not every work works has a final result
1:35 AM
natalia: most of the time it is just the documentation of the process. All the pics and video and my notes
me: that’s interesting
natalia: most of the performance artist work this way. Сonceptual artist.
me: so is the process of communication is the actual work?
1:36 AM
natalia: you can call as you want. It is the communication, the fact that you find this communication in 30 min in azeri language, with no Russian spoken.
me: im asking this all for you, so you can decide what was the most important…
1:38 AM
me: amazing and i would like to see THAT, not the performance in the shopping center
natalia: for me the communication was very interesting and the rehearsal
me: I want to be able to see your communication as the work of art
natalia: too late. But i don’t really care now. Taus, can I go now?
I really need to work
me: if that was the most important why didn’t you record it? But may be you will do similar thing next time and decide what is more important performance or preparation and then do a recording and the VIEWER can enjoy the REAL work not the packaged product.
1:40 AM
natalia: maybe. i don’t care about the viewer to be honest
natalia: i am too selfish to think about the viewer
me: if you don’t care about the audience who are you making art for?
that’s interesting…
1:41 AM
natalia: Beuys when he was making his work was just spreading his ideas among his auditorium and enticemented his viewer with charisma

me: i dont think so)
natalia: you are the one who convince you viewer
me: what?
natalia: the viewer doesn’t exist without the work
1:42 AM
me: doest the work exist without viewer?
1:43 AM
natalia: of cause it does!
1:44 AM
me: hm, for the artist?
natalia: who cares about the viewer
me: so you are making art for yourself? why show it then in the galleries, museums?
natalia: what if the viewer only likes kitsch
it means that you need to make kitsch or pop
me: i care about the viewer i think constantly would he get what i wanted to communicate?
1:45 AM
me: no no no
We are talking about different things
You have an idea and caring about the viewer means you communicate your idea well, so the viewer can read it of the screen off the image etc
its not about giving the viewer what he/she wants!!!!
natalia: thank God for that
natalia: you got it, lol
1:48 AM
me: it was you who didint get it
1:49 AM
natalia: maybe
i am doing this for a while now
1:50 AM
me: why?
natalia: forget about communication, it comes much later
me: hm???
1:51 AM
natalia: its also depends on the viewer
me: is he educated to read images the way we do?
1:52 AM
natalia: if you go to a provincial town outside of Moscow you will find an incredible viewer over there. they can sometimes understand much more then fake intellectuals, art critics who just busy giving labels
1:55 AM
me: may be
1:57 AM
natalia: are you here?
Go home.
me: yes im here
natalia: im going to go say goodnight to my son.
me: ok, did you like the discussion we had?
natalia: no
me: why? If you didn’t like it, it was useless then…
2:00 AM
natalia: I didn’t like it because I still think that you don’t understand that you need to do what you are interested in.
me: in art? That’s what I do.
natalia: of course you need to see what other ppl are doing and try to understand why you like it. You can’t adjust your art for the intelligent viewer or any other context.
2:01 AM
me: I don’t think im doing this. I think and do the things im interested in, if I thought of what the general audience and market wants, I would be doing oil paintings of distinct Caucasian faces.
2:02 AM
natalia: yes, but you need to produce more works, much more, as an artist. But you teach as well!
me: may be
2:03 AM
natalia: you can merge your teaching experience and your works of art and create smth new out of this.
me: may be, I will think about this)


i have just ordered a cab from a company called “Russian bears” taxi…


Well))) i wount be talking to myself after all. We are having a gmail chat discussion and ill post it asap.




is it related to our Klukva discussion?


Hey. Why did you post this news story? in relation to Erofeev story or our “discussion” on politics?


I will start talking to myself tmrw, ill ask what i dont want to be asked)

Hairy Today

I have been collecting my facial hair in a box for some time (eyebrows, mustache and so on, the usual for a dark caucasian hairy lady)Taus Makhacheva

Been collecting it to make an object, like a small stick on thing that i, and possibly other ppl, would be able to wear. Basically it will turn your two eyebrows into one monobrow. A hairy addition to ones face. Micro-modification.
I guess it came out of the memories of being teased at school, memories of shaving half of my eyebrows, cultural stereotypes, social stereotypes, the works of Lygia Clark had an influence, Frida Kahlo, may be extension of the body…in a weird way and a dimension of humor, i ve been reading how monobrow is perceived in different countries and in Iran it is actually considered beautiful, a friend i talked to said that in europe it would mean im quoting now “that you are a total dork and will never get laid”. in Caucasus it was sometimes considered a sign of virginity and of being unmarried. Unibrow being a sign of criminality in other. I can go on about other superstitions…) I wouldnt call it a new work, but rather an art practice based research…that will lead onto smth. HA HA There is even a monobrow website, click here )))

I went to a professional make up store today to get some materials i might need to creat this hairy attachment
Taus Makhacheva
oh, there are blood capsules in the picture that i got as well, they have got nothing to do with this “project” or any other…

Will see how it goes, i want to wear my new monobrow at the opening on saturday, the show my friends organized, which im part of.

Next door to the make up store i have discovered a costume one, few pics
Taus Makhacheva
I have found a costume of Cleopatra (going back to the exoticising and Сleopatra in the Dyagilev’s show i wrote about)
Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva
And the fake fur one-piecer i couldn’t pass by.




Hey, im checking-in regularly to see if you wrote smth … please come back to me)

Just a fun post today, no major thought/issues/concerns

Moscow is full of furry animals everywhere, this obsession with fur is unique and most of the time appalling… but i like to look at old soviet type fur coats on the underground, because they are so rough, long and massive, that you feel surrounded by bears, btw in my video Karakul i used fake fur/the ethical side of me, how nice/ it just seemed impossible to use real fur, because its very young lambs that are killed in order to produce this particular very soft type of fur. Although I can understand wearing sheepskin, because we eat meat, but fur is a pure murder. On the other side when i look at bear-women in Moscow i constantly think of reusing their old fur coats and creating an object for a video…i just cant really decide how ethical that would be…

Some images of Bear-Women i took today

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva
Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva


I’m thinking big and red motorbike somewhere in Bali…


))))))))) May be we all need smth big and red))))))))

i shall not say anything about the weather in Moscow, it would sound like a hurricane to you) And i guess living in a warehouse in winter brrrrrrrr. Gimbat woke up today and the first thing he did was … put scotch tape on all the seams in the windows, because you could hear the wind blowing while asleep…

Oh no no no, Ana you dont need another degree to unpack that one, you need to erase your memory and any knowledge of the language, may be then…we could relate to it…It was truly beyond reason, art and whatever there might be!!! My friends are studying in an art academy in Sweden now and their Performance theory course started with Jackson 5…may be thats a clue…What do i think…It was the winner in the category BAD for me…i dont even have a stength, let alone curiosity, to relate it to any art movement…and there is no need, because there is nothing. As we discussed in Baku it feels more like a strange sect/cult propaganda…brrr

I really dont want to end today, having an image of this “performance” artist in my head…with the pocket she had on her chest, where she had heart shaped confetti, that she sprinkled around on everyone regularly…like spreading unconditional love….arh no no no stop now…

To get rid of this image in my mind ill post one of my favorite performance works by Roberto Cuoghi  (i told you about this work:))

Roberto Cuoghi performance started in 1998 and lasted for 7 years. With scarce documentation (1 snapshot that is continuously reproduced in all the publications about the work) of it and very few writings it is very hard to place it within a particular discourse. Roberto Cuoghi spent seven years disguised as his father. He increased his weight to up to 127kilos, grew a beard and dyed his hair grey.  He learned his gestures and habits in order to take on this new persona a living sculpture with no commodified art product. Soon strangers started paying him courtesies and respects designated to elderly. He began to develop heart problems and, as a matter of fact, had to terminate his performance.

It began for a simple reason that he wanted to disappear.Thats what he said about it.

“I didn’t want certain people to recognize me. I needed an alternative and I needed to be credible. The image of my father was the closest image I could find” eventually Roberto came to appreciate his new identity “To be old and fat at twenty-four can be convenient. You lose a lot of twenty-four year old paranoia’s, and yet you are still too young to have the paranoia’s of sixty year old”

Taus Makhacheva

Roberto Cuoghi 7 year performance 2000

When the curators of Manifesta 4 in 2002 asked him to show something relating to his transformation, he refused delivering instead a film of the sun rising and settling-something he says represents their misunderstanding of his intentions.

Cuoghi himself denies that he never made any art about his experiences, saying that it is just a matter of what you see as art. Not being part of the market it is still part of the institution of art.  Where does the criticality lie?  May be in Roberto’s position of his work just being a matter of what you see as art, in his refusal to position it within the institution…

Got carried away)

Sleep well with Good art)



No plans, nobody celebrates X-mas down here, New Year is the big thing: big on vodka and pickles, but i will have to stay in Moscow for it, will party with my friends, its a lively genuine crowd of young artists, we will have a party at the ex-Ilya Kabakov studio. Do you have any plans for New Year?


I went to a protest against demolition of Central House of Artists and New Tretyakov’s Gallery building today. Now there is a new law that will pass soon, that the buling will be handed into jurisdiction of Moscow’s administration and after that its GONE. This is called GENPLAN-General Plan, and it will not only affect this building and surrounding territory (garden with sculptures), but it will affect many more architectural monuments of different times. As i wrote before what they will do after they demolish CDH, they will build a new smaller builing and the rest of the territory will be used for residential commercial bulldings. Have you heard anywhere in the world about museum building demolition? And we are not talking safety reasons…we are talking pocket money for the power. From what i remember the show you are working on now will be in CDH in january? How can i help you with your pressure?

I went to protest today…at first there was nothing, no speakers, just a group of ppl standing there and it just felt like a silent inner protest that everyone expressed. Later on different speakers were talking about this crime against culture, including Andrei Erofeev, who was a curator of the new wave art (well contemporary art) in Tretyakov Gallery, and who is on trial now for curating a show Forbidden Art-2006 where he showed artworks that were censored from other exhibitions for various reasons. I think there was round 120 ppl present…

A shot from the protest, CDH building at the back

Taus Makhacheva

Im usually a very apolitical person…for a reason…but the events i encounter have an impact…

White stuff

I have read Adriana and Monica’s dialogues  yesterday and was so inspired by the way they are interacting, their everyday videos, that i shot smth today as well and want to post a video i shot last winter while traveling by car in Dagestan.

[flickr video=4200922783]

Its -20 C, i love the sound, its like munching or the bone crushing…

[flickr video=4201060123]

i always stare at the way snow moves on the road…

[flickr video=4200998215]

Big and red


Dear Taus & Natalia,

I’m writing to you on my knees in front of the heater in the front room of the warehouse where looking around for the first time since coming back from Baku I suddenly realise everything’s all over the place again. Flowers are in a teapot, the teapot is on a bookshelf, books are on the chair, my favourite necklace is hanging off a nail in the wall, Nivea is under the table, mirror’s on the floor, my belt is under the couch, my socks are on the table and I’m on the floor. This is life in a warehouse in winter time. I promised I’d be here and write something today but it’s been too cold to make sense out of anything let alone my thoughts or more pertinently yours. “It’s like the Arctic out there!” Michael says panting, again, he says this whenever he returns from a trip to the fridge, the toilet, the bedroom, from ‘outside’. Dressed head to toe he even has his shoes on ‘inside’ our front room and lately he’s permanently wrapped in this big red blanket which seems to work for him. For me, on the other hand, this cold has completely interrupted my functioning for the past few days. I’m suddenly thinking, maybe I need something big and red too?

I’m teasing of course. But I have nowhere to go after THAT performance we saw in Baku, by that American performance artist, you know the one with a giant inflatable globe, craft paper hearts and ‘Heal the World’/‘All You Need is Love’ soundtrack. What happened? How did it happen? Will it happen again? I feel like a need another degree in say performing arts, sociology and psychology to even begin to unpack what happened there in front of my disbelieving eyes? My degree in Fine Art is not going to do it. I tired. For a start as far as I can tell it was not referencing anything in the history of performance art which it was purporting to be. She said sitting beside me at lunch earlier that day “I’m a performance artist”. But her performance was not referring to anything I know of performance art; not Dada performances or Fluxus ones, or anything bodily from say 70s or abject from say the 80s or sensational say from the 90s nor was it anything contemporary or anything political or critical. It wasn’t ‘good’ and it wasn’t knowingly ‘bad’. And it was the first time in my own experience that I witnessed a gallery context work against an artwork to completely ostracise it from itself and the realm of fine art at large. What do you think? Was it simply and irredeemably bad? Intellectually, emotionally and aesthetically bad? Three strikes and it’s out. I’m staking an earlobe on this, it wasn’t her intention, but, that performance artist has left me struggling with the basics, good and bad art. So here I am, not able to go into your skype conversation. Instead I’m thinking about performance art specifically and art in general all over again, as if for the first time. I mean “If you can’t make it good, make it big and red…”? So here I am, cold and my knees hurt.




Dear Taus

As you know I am going through very stressful time with preparing for my new wok + X-Mas is coming. The chaos never ends. I wish I have more time to cummunicate. What are you up to for X-Mas? Let me know about your plans. Natalia

Late Night Skype

We wanted to speed up and decided to discuss some questions via Skype.

18/12/2009 00:40:09] Natalia Mali: Quote from Taus:

… I have started to doubt the rest of the world after Baku, one of the american “artists” during presentation of her “works” quoted her art teacher that told her “If yo cant make it good, make it Big and Red” and she added “and you can also make it tiny”…art teachers like that should be imprisoned…

[18/12/2009 00:40:25] Natalia Mali: American artist quoted her teacher… hm,   America is not the rest of the world

[18/12/2009 00:40:39] Natalia Mali: Do you think Baku people are dreaming or what?

[18/12/2009 00:41:10] Natalia Mali: ? what are they building? what kind of society?

[18/12/2009 00:41:30] Natalia Mali: this are the questions I would like to ask first before we can start our discussion about art education

[18/12/2009 00:44:01] Taus: what i meant was that the dreadful situation with education is not only in Russia

[18/12/2009 00:44:02] Natalia Mali: da, nash SIANS

[18/12/2009 00:44:23] Natalia Mali: IN RUSSIA WE HAVE A POST FAZE

[18/12/2009 00:44:33] Natalia Mali: HOW CANT YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?

[18/12/2009 00:45:18] Natalia Mali: WHAT WE HAVE  IN RUSSIA, IRAN, X YUGOSLAVIA, CUBA…   IS THE RESULT

[18/12/2009 00:45:28] Taus: im not saying i dont understand that, but its not so retarded with every subject, Art is the retarded link in education why???

[18/12/2009 00:45:38] Natalia Mali: IN RUSSIA WE HAVING A POST PRODUCT

[18/12/2009 00:45:55] Taus: what do you mean by post product? post soviet society?

[18/12/2009 00:46:08] Natalia Mali: Baku is a new PRODUCT after post soviet regime

[18/12/2009 00:46:26] Natalia Mali: A NEWLY BUILT COUNTRY. Beautiful but dead

[18/12/2009 00:46:39] Taus: well newly built country yes


[18/12/2009 00:46:46] Taus: really?

[18/12/2009 00:46:56] Natalia Mali: WHY DO YOU THINK IS THAT?

[18/12/2009 00:46:59] Taus: I didn’t notice

[18/12/2009 00:47:22] Natalia Mali: I HAD A MEETING WITH MINISTRY KINO BOSS

[18/12/2009 00:47:30] Taus: yes) I’ve heard

[18/12/2009 00:47:20] Taus: they became independent recently

[18/12/2009 00:47:40] Natalia Mali: NO SO RECENTLY

[18/12/2009 00:47:45] Natalia Mali: YOU ARE DREAMING

[18/12/2009 00:47:48] Taus: 1991 is not recently?

[18/12/2009 00:47:59] Natalia Mali: READ HISTORY

[18/12/2009 00:48:05] Natalia Mali: GOOGLE IT!


[18/12/2009 00:48:58] Natalia Mali: “CONTEMPORARY ART”

[18/12/2009 00:49:22] Natalia Mali: EVERY ART FORM COUNTS


[18/12/2009 00:49:57] Taus: but that is because there is no education in contemporary art!!!! education is the core

[18/12/2009 00:50:24] Taus: that’s what I’m trying to say!

[18/12/2009 00:50:50] Natalia Mali: YES, AND THIS IS SPECIAL, NO?

[18/12/2009 00:51:07] Taus: what is special, 1991 or education?


[18/12/2009 00:52:05] Taus: what book?

[18/12/2009 00:52:09] Natalia Mali: DR SEUSS

[18/12/2009 00:52:21] Taus: yes, i had it

[18/12/2009 00:52:29] Taus: cat in the hat?

[18/12/2009 00:52:36] Natalia Mali: TAM SLON SPASAL NEVIDIMYI MIR (An elephant saved an imaginary world)

[18/12/2009 00:52:52] Taus: nope, dont know that one

[18/12/2009 00:52:58] Natalia Mali: SHAS, POSTOJ (Wait)

[18/12/2009 00:57:53] Taus: ?

[18/12/2009 00:58:13] Taus: your going through you sons old books)

[18/12/2009 00:59:45] Natalia Mali: couldn’t find, he got too many…

[18/12/2009 01:00:01] Taus: yep, the reading type)))))))))

[18/12/2009 01:00:25] Taus: never mind, what was the main idea of the book>why did you mention it?

[18/12/2009 01:01:47] Natalia Mali: Horton Hears a Who

[18/12/2009 01:02:04] Natalia Mali: read online first

[18/12/2009 01:02:22] Taus: dont know….ohhh ok, then ill understand smth about education?

[18/12/2009 01:02:57] Natalia Mali: yes, a bit )))

[18/12/2009 01:04:04] Natalia Mali: you are a performance artist or what? Our discussion can be interactive

[18/12/2009 01:04:23] Natalia Mali: you have to read it. You must know about Who Ville!

[18/12/2009 01:04:28] Taus: )))) dont know if its a joke, but its funny

[18/12/2009 01:05:56] Natalia Mali: the Who Ville nobody could see or hear only Horton could

[18/12/2009 01:06:23] Taus: I got that so far from the wikipedia…

[18/12/2009 01:06:25] Natalia Mali: Recent situation in Azerbaizhan

[18/12/2009 01:06:32] Taus: hm…

[18/12/2009 01:07:21] Natalia Mali: they try to say they have got a biennial because its  fashionable to have BIENNALE. HA-HA

[18/12/2009 01:07:29] Taus: nobody new or heard of Azerbaijan and now its advertised on BBC as the new European attraction? is this the parallel you are making?

[18/12/2009 01:07:35] Taus: of course you are right

[18/12/2009 01:08:07] Natalia Mali: if your country can spend a large amount of money in order to invite international artist to show their work…

[18/12/2009 01:08:26] Taus: about the biennial, ever tiny place has a biennial now…its a form of presenting an established culture, like having a museum of contemporary art, it affirms the state

[18/12/2009 01:08:33] Natalia Mali: rubish

[18/12/2009 01:09:14] Natalia Mali: Azeri have got one too, do you remember, we came to visit?

[18/12/2009 01:09:45] Taus: yes, but it was a private collection and everybody knew that

[18/12/2009 01:10:15] Natalia Mali: no, it was an order to make a collection

[18/12/2009 01:10:40] Natalia Mali: and the first lady’s brother in law was hired to do the JOB

[18/12/2009 01:11:03] Natalia Mali: nobody discuss that, everybody is happy

[18/12/2009 01:11:32] Taus: yes you are right, but now we are talking politics…

[18/12/2009 01:11:41] Natalia Mali: you cant help this

[18/12/2009 01:12:00] Taus: so you think the problem is political rather then educational

[18/12/2009 01:12:01] Taus: ?

[18/12/2009 01:12:19] Taus: because the power is passed by a birthright?

[18/12/2009 01:12:21] Natalia Mali: if the country model isn’t a democratic one  how can you allow contemporary thinking?

[18/12/2009 01:13:01] Taus: may be, that’s definitely is an interesting point, but i still think that with education overall qualities of the works would have been better

[18/12/2009 01:14:01] Taus: democracy…what on earth is it? it is such a myth…more advanced society may be…but i dont believe in democracy…its just a cover up.

[18/12/2009 01:14:19] Natalia Mali: permanent collection of baku museum of contemporary art is light and apolitical. There I no discussion or criticism, right?

[18/12/2009 01:14:58] Natalia Mali: uploading your words

[18/12/2009 01:15:01] Taus: Me and you we would never be able to penetrate certain institutions of the Western so-called advances society… thats what my performance was about partially, the guardian and the tate one

[18/12/2009 01:15:37] Natalia Mali: ha-ha… the point is if you dont have a democratic society you dont need to teach contemporary art

[18/12/2009 01:15:45] Natalia Mali: which is as far as I know critical, disciplinary, discursive and socio-political.

[18/12/2009 01:16:39] Taus: arhhhhh, i dont believe this…is UK a democratic society…tell me more about this…? War in Iraq…how f+cking democratic was that?

[18/12/2009 01:18:54] Taus: UK can do anything under the terrorism act…with no limitation, and there are precedents of abuse

[18/12/2009 01:17:04] Natalia Mali: and yet, much more open then Baku

[18/12/2009 01:17:07] Natalia Mali: believe me kroshka (baby)

[18/12/2009 01:17:35] Taus: may be, but democracy is a myth

[18/12/2009 01:18:07] Natalia Mali: you see, one of my photographic series has got some parts of my and my boyfriend’s body uncovered

[18/12/2009 01:18:29] Natalia Mali: Baku Biennale people refused to put up

[18/12/2009 01:18:47] Natalia Mali: when I asked:  why not? Leyla (the commissioner) said there was not room for it

[18/12/2009 01:19:13] Taus: R U SERIOUSE????

[18/12/2009 01:19:16] Natalia Mali: therefore there is no room for free thinking

[18/12/2009 01:19:21] Taus: was it censored?

[18/12/2009 01:19:34] Taus: HA HA

[18/12/2009 01:19:46] Natalia Mali: what do you think?

[18/12/2009 01:20:14] Natalia Mali: I was surprised my video was shown???

[18/12/2009 01:20:46] Taus: Yes, may be they didnt watch it before)))

[18/12/2009 01:21:10] Taus: Good work by the way, outfit OTT sexy and i liked it

[18/12/2009 01:21:50] Natalia Mali: thanks

[18/12/2009 01:23:30] Taus: i still think that British society has limitations, but they are just not so visible, as i said before we are long time forbidden from entering a certain room, class, institution and so on, without knowing the social codes and not belonging to a certain social layer

[18/12/2009 01:23:50] Natalia Mali: Have you seen the new place in the dialogues?

[18/12/2009 01:24:34] Taus: not yet, i think its great, you can have a conversation across the dialogues and develop ideas with smb else

[18/12/2009 01:26:02] Taus: but i think we have a lot in common and need to discuss an idea of exoticism and how we work on our projects…im definitely too chaotic…as i drew a parallel before…having all the ingredients is not enough for the work of art to happen

[18/12/2009 01:30:02] Taus: HOW DO YOU WORK?

[18/12/2009 01:31:03] Natalia Mali: I’ll beat you up

[18/12/2009 01:31:25] Taus: cant wait for you to beat me up, r u calling Heiner to help you?))) because i have no one beside me

[18/12/2009 01:31:47] Natalia Mali: wait, I have to try “this is why you are great” in face book

[18/12/2009 01:31:59] Taus: OMG

[18/12/2009 01:32:09] Taus: our conversation is more important

[18/12/2009 01:32:12] Natalia Mali: it doesn’t work

[18/12/2009 01:32:17] Taus: you cant run, you cant hide

[18/12/2009 01:32:22] Natalia Mali: dull

[18/12/2009 01:32:29] Natalia Mali: I mean I am dull

[18/12/2009 01:32:30] Taus: have you read my last msg on IAA

[18/12/2009 01:32:34] Taus: ?

[18/12/2009 01:32:40] Natalia Mali: oh, hiding is good

[18/12/2009 01:32:48] Natalia Mali: where to go, right or left, help!

[18/12/2009 01:33:40] Taus: just read what i wrote and tell me what you think, you dont need to cut me up in small pieces

[18/12/2009 01:34:07] Natalia Mali: i am not Christian , cant call for Christ!

[18/12/2009 01:34:57] Taus: tik tak tik tak

[18/12/2009 01:35:15] Natalia Mali: There is even a word for this export – type art that is filled with traditional authenticity, KLUKVA-Cranberry, Cranberry for the West. You are just shooting KLUKVU-Cranberry for the West one might say. I must admit that for some time i have superficially thought that Boris Mikhailov was doing that…but i just didnt examine his works close enought, before i assumed this…

[18/12/2009 01:35:51] Natalia Mali: of course art world need that KLUKVA thing!

[18/12/2009 01:36:10] Natalia Mali: KLUKVA is the best SURROGATE

[18/12/2009 01:36:24] Natalia Mali: Western Art is DEAD!

[18/12/2009 01:36:30] Taus: i like that, the surrogate of art…hm

[18/12/2009 01:36:34] Taus: dead?

[18/12/2009 01:36:37] Taus: really?

[18/12/2009 01:36:55] Taus: West needs Eastern authenticity?

[18/12/2009 01:37:16] Natalia Mali: you saw video art from Norvigian and Danish friends

[18/12/2009 01:37:28] Natalia Mali: migrating birds

[18/12/2009 01:38:16] Taus: yes i saw

[18/12/2009 01:38:52] Taus: not sure if i get that…what does that have to do with what we are talking about?

[18/12/2009 01:40:17] Taus: i was mostly thinking about kyrgiztan artists and thats why i started with that

[18/12/2009 01:40:38] Natalia Mali: we are talking about exotic art

[18/12/2009 01:40:43] Taus: yep

[18/12/2009 01:41:00] Taus: asia, east, the other to the west, smth like that

[18/12/2009 01:41:12] Natalia Mali: and I was telling you that what we see from central asia is much more interesting

[18/12/2009 01:41:21] Natalia Mali: then migrating birds

[18/12/2009 01:41:29] Taus: i agree on that one!

[18/12/2009 01:41:49] Taus: but why is it more interesting, because of cultural authenticity

[18/12/2009 01:42:03] Natalia Mali: or nostalgic chandelier

[18/12/2009 01:42:06] Natalia Mali: no?

[18/12/2009 01:42:07] Taus: it feels like a genre now…not like a genuine form of art

[18/12/2009 01:42:14] Taus: most of the time, not always

[18/12/2009 01:42:19] Taus: yes

[18/12/2009 01:42:21] Natalia Mali: cultural authenticity is the one

[18/12/2009 01:43:00] Taus: but where is that line where you start exploiting cultural authenticity and start doing Chador Art?

[18/12/2009 01:43:01] Taus: That’s my main concern!

[18/12/2009 01:43:02] Natalia Mali: it is the cultural memory that we deal with all the time

[18/12/2009 01:43:21] Natalia Mali: we are transistors of that kind of art

[18/12/2009 01:43:35] Natalia Mali: I don’t see the problem

[18/12/2009 01:43:44] Natalia Mali: why not? who said its bad?

[18/12/2009 01:44:04] Taus: may be, but i dont know if we have crossed the line, if you abuse this cultural memory?

[18/12/2009 01:44:48] Natalia Mali: some artists do that, abusing cultural memory

[18/12/2009 01:44:57] Taus: is it enough to show our costumes, dances, jewelry, architecture of the wedding halls?

[18/12/2009 01:45:05] Natalia Mali: I like that! could be a good title for our work

[18/12/2009 01:45:17] Taus: ))))

[18/12/2009 01:45:20] Natalia Mali: YES!

[18/12/2009 01:45:28] Natalia Mali: BUT there is 1 BUT

[18/12/2009 01:45:50] Taus: how do you know that you are not the abuser of cultural memory, what makes you different from Chador art?

[18/12/2009 01:46:01] Taus: Same question goes for me!

[18/12/2009 01:46:02] Natalia Mali: You need to transfer these images, memories, symbols to your auditorium

[18/12/2009 01:46:45] Natalia Mali: I can’t answer that

[18/12/2009 01:46:54] Natalia Mali: I must think over

[18/12/2009 01:47:03] Natalia Mali: very interesting question

[18/12/2009 01:47:13] Natalia Mali: thank you Taus

[18/12/2009 01:47:21] Taus: but why do you need to transfer the images, memories, symbols? So the audience would be curious about your OTHER WORLD, it becomes a sort of anthropology, archaeology…not art… no?

[18/12/2009 01:47:31] Natalia Mali: I have to say that I really happy to have this conversation with you

[18/12/2009 01:47:50] Taus: Wow, welcome…im ask myself this all the time

[18/12/2009 01:47:56] Natalia Mali: I only worry sometimes about you, but now less and less

[18/12/2009 01:48:05] Taus: )))))))))))))))))))))) Ha ha )))

[18/12/2009 01:48:08] Natalia Mali: you do understand a lot of things

[18/12/2009 01:48:34] Taus: may be, are you talking about the way art world functions…is that what i don’t understand?

[18/12/2009 01:48:39] Natalia Mali: going back to your ?

[18/12/2009 01:48:58] Natalia Mali: I think anthropological analyses is the most interesting

[18/12/2009 01:49:29] Natalia Mali: another two climate change and gender change

[18/12/2009 01:49:36] Taus: well there are works like that…but art is not cultural studies…dont you think?

[18/12/2009 01:49:53] Taus: gender change is so out of date))))))))

[18/12/2009 01:50:15] Natalia Mali: sorry, I wanted to joke with you

[18/12/2009 01:50:25] Taus: HA HA)))

[18/12/2009 01:50:30] Taus: sorry i was so thick

[18/12/2009 01:50:45] Natalia Mali: you are a tense girl!

[18/12/2009 01:50:55] Natalia Mali: and very straight

[18/12/2009 01:50:57] Taus: and a vodka drinking one)

[18/12/2009 01:51:06] Natalia Mali: what makes you like this?

[18/12/2009 01:51:20] Natalia Mali: vodka was a big shock to me

[18/12/2009 01:51:43] Taus: lets not go on about me) it happens once in a few month, dont make a big deal out of it.

[18/12/2009 01:52:06] Taus: Lets get back to exploiting cultural memory, or you need some time to think it over?

[18/12/2009 01:52:08] Natalia Mali: Yes I do.

“…If you can’t make it good, make it Big and Red”

Do we have to keep quite here? …I can only speak for myself…and as i didnt make sure the main curator and comissioner knew my opinion about the works, i shall not make my opinion public here. Its as simple as: if you cant say what you think into smb face, you should not say it at all, not that i always follow the rule, but i can at least try.

What do you mean it has nothing to do with education or knowledge? ITS A QUESTION of education or knowledge, where else would understanding of what is contemporary art would come from???? They would dream it or what?  There is no understanding, because there is no education, in Azerbaijan, in Dagestan, in Moscow—state education in contemporary art is laughable-learning a traditional skill! But i have started to doubt the rest of the world after Baku, one of the american “artists” during presentation of her “works” quoted her art teacher that told her “If yo cant make it good, make it Big and Red” and she added “and you can also make it tiny”…art teachers like that should be imprisoned…

I was not only asking your opinion on the biennial and the overall quality of works, i was asking about how do you distinguish good and bad art, what are the criteria’s for you personally?

Group from central Asia…i really feel that some of their works lie within a certain type of aesthetics, deriving their inspiration from first video art experiments of the 60 and 70 as well as references to their local culture…It is in a way what we do, but there is a fine line, because its very easy to fall into category of exotic art popular in the west. There is even a word for this export – type art that is filled with traditional authenticity, KLUKVA-Cranberry, Cranberry for the West. You are just shooting KLUKVU-Cranberry for the West one might say. Its like Miha said (the curator from Slovenia we met) In Iran they call it Chador Art, photographs of daily female life that will sell well outside Iran. I must admit that for some time i have superficially thought that Boris Mikhailov was doing that…but i just didnt examine his works close enought, before i assumed this…

In my previous msg i was talking about different ways of working on the art projects and asking how do you work i relation to that, how do you develop your idea, what is the structure behind your performance work, what do you begin with, what is the production like and so on?

Baku Biennale Performance.” In the Searech for a New Rithm”

Natalia Mali

getting ready for my performance, Baku 2009

Natalia Mali

working on my performance with local dancers

Natalia Mali

my girls

Natalia Mali

my boys

Natalia Mali

Performance Still, Baku 2009

Natalia Mali

Performance Still 2, Baku 2009

Natalia Mali

Performance Still 3, Baku 2009

Natalia Mali

Performance Still 4, Baku 2009

Natalia Mali

Perofmance Still 5, Total view

getting back to you

Dear Taus

I am finally back to daily routine…

I have just posted some pics from Baku Biennale opening.  Have a look.

You are asking me what do I think about the work presented at the Biennale?

… here were some good works and bad works, and it got me thinking again and again about the lack of education and knowledge, how can one distinguish bad and good art? There is definitely clear distinction for me and I believe there are universal criteria’s when it comes to contemporary art…

Well, I have to say I was very angry with the main curator and made sure she knows that. Here we don’t have to keep quiet, right? At least here I can say what I think.  The organization was poor, a big chaos, but yap,

they fed us well!

The selection was dull; I never saw so much BAD, mediocre art in my life!
It has nothing to do with education or knowledge. It seems there is no understanding of what is CONTEMPORARY ART!!! Everything counts.
I truly believe the organizers could’ve done a better job in selecting work but there was (as a commissioner of the Biennale, Leila Akhundzade stated) lack of money and access to good art.  No time to work on it, no time to find connections, no time to look at the work properly in order to follow up the main THEMA of the Biennale. A mish-mash in a big ball called BIENNALE!
All embassies involved where providing with their candidates, nephews, and nieces of the ambassador…  Ha-ha-ha…
I really liked artist’s delegation from Central Asia, had fun talking to them.  We got lucky to work with them at the same place. Meeting artist and non-stop exchanging information has no value. I nearly lost my voice )))
The dialogue between invited artists has been formed so natural… Where else in the world you can openly speak  to the artists like you did in Baku?

I am going to miss that this is for sure. Natalia

Hello Baku!

Natalia Mali BAKU hanging work

This is like my ticket to Baku looked like    before hanging work, tallking to the commissioner of the Biennale

BAKU biennale opening

official opening, ministr of culture Azerbajzhan

Natalia Mali

Shervanshakh Place, Self-portrait. Baku 2009

BAKU Presedent

getting ready for memorial day of Heidar Aliyev

Another theft

This time from Azerbaijan Airlines

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Physical pain

I am typing this at the Heydar Aliev airport. Francisco left (was taken away from us) yesterday. Ana, Natalia and Heiner left today, im leaving now, Miha will leave tmrw. I feel physical pain upon leaving Baku. I have discovered an amazing gang of people who can let go, produce good work and are as witty as hell. I have not been to an exhibition like that, we have been fed, we have been driven to a massive amount of openings that were part of the biennial. It was extremely chaotic but brilliant in terms of people I met.

There were some goods works and bad works, and it got me thinking again again and again about the lack of education and knowledge, how can one distinguish bad and good art? There is definitely clear distinction for me and I believe there are universal criteria’s when it comes to contemporary art…What do you think Natalia?

In terms of developing my own works,  i have been talking to ppl and thinking about different approaches to video editing, because it can destroy or create the work, been talking about the way I shoot my works/productions, chaos should not be present in the storyboard or actual filming, it will not just happen if you have all the ingredients, you have to add them gradually, YOU meaning ME, and Im scared to do that sometimes. The next work I make…I will do very differently, I want to try a less chaotic approach where just having the ingredients… is not enough…You cant just find smth slap it together and hope that in the end smth will burst…there are exercises and works of art, and in order to get from one point to another you have to have a structure…Natalia, how do you work? How do you shoot your photographic projects, prepare performances?


Openings/Baku Biennial 2009

Hey) at last the internet connection that doesn’t cost 5 manat per hour.

Some images from the openings.

Shirvanshahs’ Palace in Baku, Azerbaijan

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Your works Natalia))

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Me going on about smth and my video A Space of Celebation…

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Opening, right image is from Heiners collection of high heels at the opening)

Taus Makhacheva

Shot of the Space

Taus Makhacheva

My video Karakul is behind the curvaceous lady on the left, you can see it here . Its my under construction website, that will be running full scale soon)

ArtGroup Gallery, Baku, Azerbaijan

Photos by Heiner Mühlenbrock and me.

Train journey to Baku

Pic of platskart first.

Taus Makhacheva

Dreadful customs and border patrol! The train was stopped twice, once on the Russian border another time on the Azerbaidjan. I was on the top shelf and had to come down and sit for 2-3 hours, instead of sleeping…because they enjoy so much little power they have. They didn’t really ask me for money, well they tried to, but  was persistent that all my docs were fine and there was nothing I needed to pay for. But ppl around me had to bribe them, coz their documents were slightly wrong, they threatened to take them of the train. It sort of a bargain game, as I understood, you say you have no money, they try to take you of the train because of smth, then you find some money and so on. Couple that was travelling in my doorless compartment asked me to keep their 200 dollars in my bag, because they wouldn’t search me…Well I did get searched and they asked me if I have papers for my camera tripod)))))))) I think it was a joke.

Another Reality-check.

Been running around in Baku, hanging out with YOU, Natalia and Ana Cavic, who is doing a performance here as well, which I really like, Ana if you are reading this I have told you that already)))))

Baku is beautiful but it feels like oil is dripping from every newly built architectural masterpiece.

Been to a carpet, theatre, liberty museums. Spoke to the commissioner of the biennale and will be showing two works in different spaces. Today I have set up one of them.

Tmrw is the official opening. Me and Natalia are practically in the same space and she is doing a performance at the opening, will take some pics.


The video upload will have to wait(


There were so many things I wanted to write about, most of all I have been thinking about the interviews I gave in Makhachkala. First one was on the radio. The journalist was so inspiring! He is 17, started working on that radio when he was 16, has ambitions for the future/which is rare among young ppl. The radio is VGTRK, its not an entertainment wave, but rather news, information, interviews and music … We talked about education, and how practically every exam is bought, its not a joke, I mean it. most of the professors are bribed for marks.

It feels like higher education is an accessory of the rich, because not everyone can afford to study in Dagestan. And in Russia everyone starts their education very early 16,17-I just remember when I did my first degree in economics, I was fresh out of school and had NO idea whatsoever what I wanted to study, I just applied for economics, because it signified secure future. Two most popular things to study now is economics and law, in case of Dagestan they are the most expensive ones (the biggest bribes to get in, carry on and graduate). And nobody takes gap years or time to think, work, travel, understand themselves better after school, because there is a notion of loosing a year, and being older then your fresh out of school university friends. We have discussed that at my artist talk and Valil, philosopher, said that it has to do with the fact that we are a post-soviet community and there was such thing as raspredelenie-distribution-you were distributed to a work place by government after uni, this pattern is probably is well remembered by the society but is not active any more.

Of the tape, we talked about my perception of Dagestan, and I realised how protected I was, how I didn’t not see anything growing up. How I still considered it the place my grandfather wrote about, noble man, beautiful scenery, sense of pride, justice, respect for the old.   He told me about his experiences and how looking slightly different provokes local man. He has slightly longer hair, fragile looking body and dresses a bit differently. He is always offended on streets and gets into fights to protect himself. It came as a bit of a shock to me, as I never thought that NOT wearing sport clothes, having short haircut and going to wrestling courses can result into discrimination. And it made me think that wrestling is a necessity rather then sport.

Another thing he said is that ppl don’t have bookshelves in their homes…they don’t need them, I never paid enough attention to this fact, but it sounds like truth.  There is actually a new program introduced by Russian government that is taking place in Moscow now, its directed at the young ppl and the aim is to make reading a popular time passing. I saw good examples of this. Whole trains on the underground with no adverts inside but the quotes from different famous Russian literary works. Why even the simple initiative like this has to come from the top?

Going back to Dagestan, of course I grew up in an intellectually stimulating environment with large knowledge collections on the shelves, but I was so protected from the reality. I came and left, observed everything from the car window there, or my relatives houses behind the high fence…

Another thing that happened to me in the interview for the local glossy magazine aimed at rich professionals is very descriptive of my position and traditional society. One journalist contacted me and wanted to write about me, we met up and one of the first thing she said was that all the articles in their mag are paid for by the subject of the article (its PR) and asked if I would be willing to pay to be featured in it, I said NO, she said she will try to find money from some company to pay for it…later in our conversation she understood that I was the granddaughter of Rasul Gamzatov, immediately changed and started asking me about my cousin and that, she read in some shitty yellow mag, was dating this and that,  and is she the one that was editor in chief at Harpers Bazaar Russia, I didn’t really comment. But she apologised 5 time for offering me to pay for publication. I think all my childhood and teenage years I have been smb else, granddaughter of an amazing, respected poet. But where does that leave me as a person? It is all about who your parents grandparents are, if they are respected ppl you somehow automatically become a respected person too…

On the other side this situation in general makes shooting video art and getting into places in Dagestan easy)))


Very curious about your new body of work. I have a feeling that ill be seeing smth exquisite and explicit.

girls you’ve been waiting for!

Finally i won the fight! Went to my friends studio yesterday, he is a professional photographer Shamil Gadzhidadaev and asked for some photographs to show you. I think the girls are amazing, i cant seem to get over my obsession with the wedding subject and investment into exterior. Additionally i feel the need to explain the context my latest work has been done in. With the official population of 600 000 in Makhachkala we have more then 40 wedding dress shops (and the prices to rent or buy are amazingly high), round 30 wedding halls-especially built for weddings, these halls can accommodate upto 1500 ppl and around 100 beauty salons. Mostly the population is very poor, but there is an inner need to wear all your jewelry collection/diamonds, etc every time you go out of the house, even to throw away garbage, the amounts of effort spent on beauty is pretty shocking, the prices for labels are shocking, and here practically nobody would wear a plain white t-shirt, there has to be D&G, ICEberg, Armani, written on it, even if its fake, like the LV scarf in one of my photos. Back to Girls)

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Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Shamil told that now their studio is offering a new service called LOVE Story, a photo-session before the wedding in romantic set up, in normal clothes and wedding dress, i saw some samples they looked similar to this advert in the local wedding mag (below). What intrigues me is the name on the service and the standard tricks they use, but i guess thats a universal thing. This particular photo/advert was shot at the only sand mound we have in Dagestan, btw “White Sun of the Desert” film by Mikhalkov was shot there, they’ve shot an entire desert around one heap of sand we have.

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Some pis of the local industry

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Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva

Taus Makhacheva Taus Makhacheva



P.S. Will upload my video work tmrw from Baku) Gonna run to catch a train now.

forget about internet connection. surprises awaiting…

Tausik, we just finished packing my pictures, which I hope I will be showing at the Biennale. No frames what’s so ever? The curators of Baku Biennale left me decide what I want to show. At first I felt pleased, then I began to realize – bollix. As you know, female artists have no structure in their head, there is one but difficult to guess.You can imagine me making  selection of my work? But, I have to say, there are few good things came up. By making a selection I discovered that I have favorites! Time passes by, I grew older and if you want more radical.  I would like to show not what everybody expecting to see, (Self Portrait as a Post Soviet Girls) a legend, I would like to show work called One+One, which I shoot with my boyfriend.

Hurey! I hope they won’t keel me for that.

Surprises awaiting. Natalia


i have been fighting with the internet connection for the past three hours (im using some sort of shitty mobile usb modem that doesn’t like my gmail account for some reason), with no luck on uploading things i wanted to share… going to bed frustrated. Menazhat is definitely wonderful, but i had to fight for the simplicity, she might be OTT with her designs)

I can feel that you are so stressed and busy with a work you have to do, may be we can record a live session when we meet in Baku? That would be good, and there wont be any questions left in midair. Im going by train tmrw from Makhachkala, its an overnight train, taking bunch of equipment with me. Going in platskart-a carriage with compartments, but without doors, so its like a one massive open carriage, where everyone can see everyone, i think its the safest way (and the cheapest/paid 25 pounds) if you are traveling alone.


Taus, I met Menazhat Gasanova, local costume designer. She is wonderful. I made a photo shooting with her costumes in Derbent in 2005.Never showed these images, waiting for the right time.  Will post some picks later from this session.

Today I was busy shooting my new photo collage before taking them to Baku Biennale. Heading off tomorrow morn for more then 7 days. See you in Baku.

P.S. Thank you for posting picks from your artist talk in Makhachkala. 16 people it’s a large auditorium…. Well done!

life in the UK

Wow, saucy.

What sort of paperwork is in the 2nd pic, residential visa or smth like that, application for citizenship?

Ive been always interested in autobiographical works, where everyday is documented, like some of Tracey Emin works, how does she capture that moment of reality, you have to run and set up a camera, pose and so on, its never a pure everyday experience…

I like the English breakfast, and your piece really is working as a sequence, description questioning national identity…on one level…?

Artist talk

I was thrilled because there were about 30 ppl today) Gave an interview for a local paper and was amazed with the journalist, because she properly researched everything, quoted Kulik and asked what i thought about Jean-Hubert Martin, who curated 3rd Moscow biennale. My previous experience with local press was totally different.                                                                                                                And we had a discussion for a long time! I really want to carry on and organize more events, plus the gallery is buying my video! To be honest this is the first time i sold a video work!

Few images from the lectures and an artist talk.

Taus Makhacheva

video in the space

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artist talk)

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Lecture, on the right image is a designer  Menazhat Gasanova who made my wedding dress.


P.S. Reading now Beyond diversity by Groys, as you’ve recommended Natalia

From Photographic Series Life in the UK 2008

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my trip back to home town makhachkala in 2005

Natalia Mali

my lecture at the sam N1 Gallery in Makhchkala city

Natalia Mali

TV came

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Ministr of Culture, Dagestan came

Natalia Mali

Went to see my old school in Makhachkala

Natalia Mali

went to photograph my home old home

Natalia Mali

a window with light, looking at the future

work in progress…

work in progress. charming! I always thought I am genetic hybrid. having a crises to think i am both…


constant work in progress, with understanding of different persona’s you have to be in every social setup…


Dear Breda and Natalia,

The only thing i can think of in relation to your quote Breda’s is the Gaze. I think growing up in Makhachkala, Moscow, studying in London have changed my gaze on traditional culture i come from. i dont belong to it completely, but im not foreign enough, its not a tourist gaze and not the insiders. I have heard two opinions after my artist talk today, one was that i look from the outside, trying to identify myself as part of it (and its not working), another one was that i look from the inside but with a sense of reflection and distance, and that’s why criticality is present.

im not sure if that answers your question…may be the key is not-belonging and enjoying this perpetual state of being the Other everywhere? or we are talking about constant mimicry that results into something what Nikki S Lee did in her work Projects, penetrating different modern communities?

nations and/or cultures

when we are born we are genetical coded but then we become a work in progress, no?

on migration

Dear Breda

Thank you for your comment and the quote on migration. I would like to remind you that both Taus and I come from post-comminist time and not only from from West to East, culture to culture,  nation to nation… This fact makes a discussion much more complex.
How do we migrate from that?

Boris Groys in Art Power wrote:

“Post-cummunist life is life lived backward, a movement against the flow of time… from post-historical, post-apocalyptic time back to historical time”

Here I am, deeply transmogrified…

Taus, Natalia – below is a quote from The Moonstone, a novel by Wilkie Collins published in 1862 (!). it seems to suggest that migration can highlight various aspects of one’s character (somehow it feels true to me). question: can migration serve as something like a test of how complex we allow ourselves to be?

“This puzzling shifts and transformations in Mr. Franklin were probably due to the effect of foreign training. At the age when we are all of us most apt to take our colouring, in the form of a reflection from the colouring of other people, he had been abroad, and had been passed on from one nation to another…As a consequence of this, he had come back with so many different sides to his character, all more or less jarring with each other, that he seemed to pass life in perpetual contradiction. He could be a busy man, and a lazy man; cloudy in the head, clear in the head; a model of determination, and a spectacle of helplessness, all together. He had his French side, and his German side, and his Italian side – the original English foundation showing through, every now and then, as much to say, “Here I am, deeply transmogrified…”

Empty mind

Dont think i can be very substantial tonight…

The lecture went well, more ppl, i showed more images, gave less philosophy, that was the key to success)

Saw two small articles in the daily newspapers  today about the show, was very pleased, as they were extreemly adequate-may be because it was mostly quotes from the speaches at the opening and press release, but i do not care.

Will be giving an artists talk tmrw, i haven’t talked about my work to a large audience since i have graduated, we had convenors/presentations (it wasnt a friendly presentation, it was more like a suicide, you had to stand infront of 30 students 1st,2nd,3rd years mixed and 4 lectureres and explain(read defend) your works and ideas, 30 minutes, even if you have nothing more to say after first 10 min, you were bombarded by questions…it was harsh, but i miss it, i dont get such an intense feedback theese days)  Any tips on the artist talk?  What im scared of is simple questions, smth like what is this all for? And i will be asked one like that, im sure. Questions like that make me gasp and freeze…

Few images of our National library

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This one drawer is a catalogue of our cd/dvd collection.

I was thinking about what you said about my sense of belonging to family, culture, heritage. I dont think ive always been that way, i think i felt it when i came to Dagestan over the summer in my first year at Goldsmiths. I have stayed at my great grand fathers house (most of it is a museum now-he was a poet too) in Tsada, mountain village where we are from. I have lived there for sometime alone, having my own routine, communicating with the locals. Thats when i did the series Formation on IAA website.

The visit to cemetery wasnt painful, i went on friday, because if you go on friday before noon they say that the dead can see you. I dont believe in this, but i still went at that time and talked to them out loud, dont know if that makes me a nut. Is this how traditions are passed on sometimes, you dont believe, but you do it because its been done that way before you were born!? mimicry, reproduction and repetition are the core of traditional society…or may be its a type of neurosis… what if, what if, what if its true…

Sleep well


Reference of consciousness

Taus, it must be a painful experience to go  to the cemetery  to see your ancestor’s gravestones. I’ve done the same when last time went to Makhachkala. What strikes me most is this tender feeling that you develop towards belonging to the family, being attached to your roots. I miss that sometimes being always detached from the context, country of origin and my people. Not that I like to go back and start a new life )))

Reference of consciousness this is how its called. I am sure something big will come out of this experience. Good luck to you, my dear. Natalia

P.S. the poloroid picture is great! I like your litle shoes matching your skirt. Brilliant picture!


IAA Taus Makhacheva

My Fathers parents gravestones. I dont remember them. I like the stones, the shapes are traditional and have their and my ancestors carved in.

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Cemetery where my Mothers parents are.

Lecture Number 2

Natalia, thank you for your kind words.

Do you have lecturing or artist talk experience, probably yes, tell me more!?))) I was very content today because of the lecture. there was more people, about 18))) it was a bit different audience and i feel a more interested one too, we had a little discussion as well.



Family album pic

My aunt just gave this polaroid to me. Its the funniest one ever, i am wearing old Dagestan jewelry)

Taus Makhacheva IAA

Taus, I am proud of you any way, just remember that

Dear Taus

Last night I went to bed thinking – if you don’t show up today I start calling Moscow. Kremlin!

Hey, I am glad the opening is over! Never mind that three and a half people turned up. It shouldn’t bother you so much. You did your job. You made a good presentation of your work. I’m familier with this feeling when before the opening you spend long hours to set up a show, feel totally exited, overwhelmed and expect people in the audience to feel the same when they see the work. You want them to  jump up and down from elation, right? I agree the feed back is very important for us as it shows, reminds us our ambitions.
Taus, I am proud of you in any way, just remember that.  I like your action-performance you made in London.  I have a feeling we have developed similar approaches to discussing social-political issues and moving in the right direction. Natalia


Dagestan girls- i have never showed it, i guess never considered the project complete…

I like your “Artist must be flexible” work! Its critical and i love the humor. And your queue question is brilliant!!! I can paraphrase it for myself as well, after my shorter artistic career, i have worked to put myself on

Emerging artist of Dagestan list

Emerging Caucasian artist list

Emerging artist of Moscow list

Goldsmiths graduate list

This is Video art artist list

Artists who work with local culture list

Somewhat exotic artist list

With this conversation and campaign you have posted a link to we are moving in the direction  of institutional critique and i have 2 performance works i did on the subject while studying at Goldsmith.

Maturity I, 2004, photo by Olga Hoffman, performance in front of TheGuardian office building

Taus Makhacheva IAA

Maturity II, 2004, photo by Olga Hoffman, performance in TateModern

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In both performances i had my CV printed on the back of sandwich boards, in the first case my works and publications as photographer, in the second case my artistic cv with exhibitions.

A Woman is a Woman, i wish i could see the video of this work and listen to Aziza Sadikova sound, just yesterday in my lecture i have mentioned “Les mamelles Tiresias”/the breasts of Tiresias by Appolinaire, Poulenc and the sceen where Thérèse gets rid of her female identity, her breasts (2 floating away ballons) and becomes Tiresias…



P.S. Going to my grandparents cemetery now


I feel so depressed, opening went fine, talked to some crazy ppl. Artists-friends, relatives and local art lovers. Was about 50 ppl in total. The owner of the galley said few words, me and  a philosopher who was present said few as well. One local channel was there, I have agreed to a 1-radio, 1-tv, 1-newspaper, 1-magazine interview.

But the lecture today ((( 15 ppl came, and nobody teaches 20th centrury art in Dagestan (esp performance), posters about lectures were in every university. Its so strange…not that I feel sorry for my effort, I feel sorry for their lost opportunity to absorb new information, im starting to think that nobody needs access to knowledge, and the problem is not that there are no resources…arh…

Well may be the mouth to mouth radio will work and today there’ll be more…

A pic  from the opening.

Taus Makhacheva IAA

Theatre L’Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris

Performance “A Woman IS A Woman“ (2008) lends a voice to women sex workers.

In this performance I used images which I have found from the internet. Women who are presenting themselfs for sale. The accompanying monologue was built on Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Joyce’s Ulysses (incredible piece of writing), Roland Barthes’ “Lovers Discourse” and fragments of my own writings.
They wrote “The vulgar visual play in which Mali I perform as a wife, a mother and a prostitute is punctuated by the interaction with two male performers whom she instructs to carry out a series of tasks.”

At the end of the performance I began to interact with male spectators who become the cause and the victim of the action on stage. We all dance together. *See last still. I liked to work on this piece, somehow having a very limited budget, no production crew and no help it worked out well.

The sound done by Aziza Sadikova, contemporary composer who originally comes from Uzbekistan. She is brilliant!

A Woman is A Woman Stills from Performance

Natalia Mali

A Woman is a Woman Performance Still 1

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A Woman is A Woman Performance Still 2

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A Woman is A Woman Performance Still 3

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A Woman is A Woman Performance Still 4

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A Woman is A Woman Performance Still 5

Question: What for am I standing in thе queue?

Postmodern society churns out millions of artist who after graduating from prestigious art schools and colleges virtually go on the streets to prostitute their talents.
In the course of my 10-year-old (or more?) artistic career I have done my best to put my name on –

emerging artists list,
mid-career artists list
goldsmith graduate artist list
This is Live Art artists list
Non-British Born artists list

and so on till the crack of doom. ..

Question: What for am I standing in thе queue?

Зачем Я стою в очереде?

Artist Must Be Flexible 2

Artist Must Be Flexible 1 Kopie t

The Artist Must Be Flexible is one of very few art works where I as an artist explicitly state my attitude towards this issue.

Self Portrait

Natalia Mali

Campaign Against Home Office restrictions on non-EU artists and academics

Dagestan Girls

Taus, the girls you posted last night look totally absurd in a good way. The confrontation of the room surrounded by stuffed animal and the girl is very strong.
I like the pesition of the camera. It would be great if you photograph them a bit closer, but never mind. The dimension is still good. Have you ever showed them to public? Will send you some pics in a bit. Good luck with your openning. Natalia

Beautiful girls

I actually did a photo series long time ago on the subject, i photographed gils with stuffed animals in Makhachkala

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IAA Taus Makhacheva IAA Taus Makhacheva

But this doesn’t cancel my ongoing obsession with beauty, i ll think of smth to send you)

Your PMP group heads make me think of verbal and non-verbal communication…

Sleep well, not sure ill be up for any discussions tmr after the opening)



taus, I am done. tomorrow I want to start our discussion on social political art. i have a lot to say and to show.
more to come. good dreams for now. natalia

and one is left

Natalia Mali

perfect timing heads with D.A.Prigov and Andrei Prigov (PMP Group)

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1st Shopping center in Makhachkala

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I have been at the opening ‘ceremony’ today.

Mostly presented with labels that are no longer popular in Moscow. After i said that to a friend, that was there with me, she said that Dagestan is a dump for everything, 80 % of medications are fake and radioactive waste been stored in dagestan in soviet times and even now, thats why we have high rates in oncology, she even named the areas where the RAW is ‘properly stored’.

intro 5

I was looking for a video of documentation of my performance and found something really special. Breda is on “best artist’s” list.
Do you remeber? I am still working on my intro list. thank you for posting neshat. natalia

rare recordings

A magical dialogue about Art with Azeri artists lead by Breda Beban. Baku 2007


I will)) I actually have an idea of digging into my friends photograpic archive and posting best ones))) will let you know how it goes)

OHHH i bought a new glossy magazine, published in Makhachkala dedicated to Weddings (and there is quite a few publications on the subject). Can scan some pics for you) AMAZING.

Taus, what a brilliant idea to take pictures of Makhachkala girls, local beaty. I can only dream about that. do it! I know your fast with the camera. Snaps sounds like a great way to that, I wouldn’t creat a setting.

I dream about waxing the way they do in Makhachkala. I swear! Photograph them all, please make me a gift. I envy you…

Ana with one N and DANILO from Serbia. Sorry I made a mistake. I think I am going to enter in their converstion on some point.


Do you want me to take a pic of smth here?

Im mesmerized with local girls, they are just astonishingly beautiful!!! I should open a matchmaking agency or smth, may be do it via IAA, for better exposure)

After i went and waxed all my hairy body for the equivalent of 20 pounds two days ago, ive been thinking of dedicating a post to beauty industry and just local girls. The way they take care of themselves… i never would be able to be so persistent with my outer-self as they are.

Do it

Why? what would you do here?

i wish i can be there, where you are, in makhachkala, taus!


O.P.M. Diamanda Galas is amazing, its somewhere between animalistic and human and the music becomes concept on its own, so much agony and despair in her work, very inspiring…reminded of the video installation Turbulent by Shirin Neshat

Waiting for a video of your performance, to get a better understanding.

As for disipline, it sadens me tremendously that i wasnt brought up disiplined, and now i have to work on it so hard, but it was never considered as crucial for a life you were to have, for success…well notions of success were out of the picture when i grew up. I think in about second grade ive discovered that i needed to get to class in the morning BEFORE the bell rang. Ive discovered it accidentally, because i came in and smth was ringing, when we had a break i asked one of the girls what was that and did i need to get to class before the ring.How can you learn to be organized… it feels like my chaos is inherent now, part of me.

Prigov это СУПЕРМОЗГ-SuperBrain


P.S. Ana and Danilo are my fav as  well)



Im online now. It feels like we have swapped places, when the dialogue just started i was checking if you posted a reply every hour on my phone, now i  can write only in the eve, when i come back after all the setting up)

“I am the Third One” performance stills. Performed together with D.A.Prigov, Andrei Prigov

Taus, you can see the pics but not the title of the work. I am still working on how to post pics with the title. Video performance I must compress first. This will take some time, since my computer is not powerful enough for video editing- Natalia

Huray! I made it

Sending you some visuals

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sound track

O.P.M. [click link to listen]

My Teacher – D.A.Prigov

As to using sounds in artwork…
I have many favorite sound artist and I work with many of them in collobaration to mentione a few: Sergei Zagniy (RU), Vladimir Martynov (RU), Aziza Saykova (Uzbekistan), German Popov OMFO (RU/Netherlands), Ivanka Skrivanek (RU/Germany) and many others.

You probably know that for many years I worked with the sound artist, poet and great performer Dmitry Prigov from whom I learned, adopted, absorbed so many things – skills, knowledge, understanding… He was (as you know he passed away 2 years) a very skillful artist who could work 24/7, day and night with a short break for a nap. He was obsessed with working and creating… creating as a ceaseless, never-ending process… his life was sublimation of art… I admire him. *see some works and poetry here -

The most incredible thing I learned from him was how an artist should organise his or her life. Dmitry used to say that discipline is the most important thing for a practicing artist. To some extent we (artist) all like to stay wondering – that’s our nature )) but realizing ideas is the most difficult thing for a artist. That is why I am very grateful that I had such a teacher as Dmitry.
in 2008 after his death I have dedicated a piece to him called “Black Cancellation or I am Black”. In this work that I realised during an art forum at Karvarsla National Museum, Tbilisi, I deliberately used a sound piece by Diamanda Galas that I looped to play back for the whole duration of performance. As you might know the sound influences the fringes of our consciousness…
I strongly advise you to listen to Diamanda Galas. She is an amazing singer and sound artist. I have a whole collection her sound works. It will help you to form your understanding of sound as a notion, classical, jazz and opera music along the list.
I’ll try to send you a video documentation of this performance with my next post )))

Look forward to speak to you soon. Natalia

my addiction to IAA

My dear Tuasik!

It’s such a shame that we are geographically separated… and have to work on our art far away from each other. I wish I can be there to help you to set up your work and see how it works out!
This distance is what makes me feel completely confused. I never know when you are on line… and when you will read my new posts… Like an addict (in this case addicted to IAA site) I wake up at night to check our updated dialogues (I even start reading dialogues posted by other couples))) which sometimes helps. The serbian gays, Danili and Ana are my favorite so far.
I’ve noticed I developed a new habit or, rather, a phobia – I’m afraid of getting too far from my laptop… and I stay on line for hours… like a maniac
I prefer to stay in my bemused mode… I started enjoying it… What a life!

3.50 am

Ohhh Ufff Hey

Lets do this one by one…

La jetee

As you said brilliant exmpl of working with photo in film. I am amazed by the use of sound in La jetee…Makes me think of altering memory, well as I understood the film is a science-fiction about time, memory and how the past can be changed via memory after nuclear apocalypses. Made me immediately think of Orson Welles’ 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast…

The thing that I read/heard a while ago and sill think of it from time to time is that we think with images, our memories are still images…with sound I suppose. I think with still images when I work on a video project. My video work is always a collection of moving stills for me. When I worked as a photographer, to support myself while at Goldsmiths, the magazine I worked for sent me to photograph a hypnotherapist for a feature and he offered a free session. One of the things he asked was what were the images/photographs I saw in my head, the ones that triggered positive emotions, and whether I was in the pic in my head!? I wasn’t in it, and he told me to imagine that I step in there and appear, from then on my life had changed…ha ha…sorry, nothing changed but its still interesting. We talked about the different voices in my head, apparently everyone have them…anyway that’s way of the subject.

It is an amazing work, makes me feel that I cant work with sound: I was never interested in documentary films. Music in video for me just makes the digestion of the work easier…like the audience having no patience, and strength to fight the anxiety without extra sound support. In the beginning of my practice I was interested in a inherent quality of photography to present reality, and the subversion of this idea was the key. Make smth that seems true, not true, like a simple flip. I want to think that every photographer does that in the beginning…

I particularly like his work A Grin Without a Сat (assembled from edited clips), political dimension of it. These days my friends are very in interested in every sort of reactionary activities and protests that go on, and create works that deal with notion of revolution. And the interesting thing is that Chris Marker doesn’t even take directorial credit for Grin Without a Cat, but lists himself as editor and composer.. Artist being a DJ that samples this is Nicolas Bourriaud idea from Postproduction.(homo samplers?)

Meredith Monk

First association I had was with Pina Bausch. Her works make me think about different things…first experiments with video cameras, relation of the artists body to the outer space, and as she puts it herself it feels like little templates…

You cant attribute it to dance, performance or theatre, and that is fascinating

I do feel that you have posted Meredith Monk works to make me think about my own practice …

For me it’s a deep structured personal collection…whatever that might mean…

She uses voice not as a voice, but as an instrument.

I can feel the humor in her works, that’s what I aspire to use as well.

It feels like her work is always on the borderline with normality. Im not sure where my work stands in relation to that category.

To answer your questions. I think what I do  is a performance for video mostly. Performances as well, but less, because they scare the shit out of me frankly speaking. The immediate reality of what you are doing is disturbing….

I did my first sound piece in September and will do more, because now in Russian to do sound art is the most radical thing possible… It was on obsessive compulsive disorder.

I admire performance artists that’s why I have chosen performance as the subject for my lecture course.

Video….video killed the radio star….video….video…im used to it…it’s the hardest format I could have chosen. But it feels that I grew out of photography and haven’t moved into painting yet…i do feel the pressure of the market though.

What mediums do you prefer? What do you think of Monks work?

Sorry didn’t have enough energy to think of Martha Grahams work tonight, will give it time tmrw

Some images from yesterday and today, the gallery space,

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When I was trying to take photos of the almost finished space I got a chance to snap only two images, because the electricity went off, and then on again, and then off, and then on…power fluctuations are very common(



I Believe in Art 1

Taus, please understand me right, I don’t want to appeal on recognition of the references I have posted for you yesterday. I just wanted to open up a new dialogue which can reflect our views on contemporary culture. How the work of Meredith Monk could have affect on your creativity? If applicable. Do you like performance art, live art, sound performances? Do you like video format?



She is looking at him… remarkable

intro 4

Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie, 1962. Very important film for you to see to understand my work. I have done a body of work in which I have discussed the notion of prostitution.

intro 3

The mother of contemporary dance, Martha Graham

intro 2

Contemporary singer Diamanda Galas

intro 1

Taus, today I was all day thinking about how to began to speak about my work?

To be honest with you I find that very complicated especially if you don’t know me for a long time.
Since the content of my work is always different, I’d like to introduce you to a few people whose work had influenced me or had a big affect on me over the years. I would like to start my list from a singer, filmmaker, composer and a performance artist, Meredith Monk.

let me know what you think about her work. Natalia

La Jetee

Today both Heiner and I where watching your video work. A DVD you gave me when we met in Moscow. I will write you my comments but not here I guess, this is privite.

Meanwhile try to see this film –

“La Jetee” by Chris Marker, 1962. This is one the best examples how to work with photographic image in film.

P.S. Taus, I wish you all the best with your show in Makhachkala. The pics are great. Natalia


Hey))) Im getting addicted to this exhibitionism of my life

Was typing this msg yesterday while on the plane to Makhachkala. I wonder how on earth are they still flying! Tu-154.

Taus Makhacheva IAA Taus Makhacheva IAA

There is even an ashtray in my armrest!

Taus Makhacheva IAA

I remember when I was little and flew there and back ppl went near the  plane toilets to smoke…

There is only one company Dagestan Airlines flying to Makhachkala now. I go on about this on every occasion I can!!! S7 used to fly as well, but they updated all their aircrafts and our airport is not modern enough to accommodate them, this is the explanation I got calling up S7. MONOPOLY. In the high season-summer the prices are just ridiculous, I had to fly for 17000 return, its 350 pounds!!! When a flight Moscow-London-Moscow costed me 11000 ru 220 pounds, the flight to Lnd is longer, and you don’t have the urge to feel your safety jacket under your seat. I can’t wait for an antimonopoly committee to take a closer look at the situation.

Ok, I have let my venom out now…

Its quite a fun airline actually, Dagestan is famous for wrestling, im sure you know that) lots of Olympic champions and so on, and often they board on the plane without purchasing a ticket in advance and even if the plane is FULL), they sit in additional seats meant for air hostesses. Well that’s what I saw, im sure its not only sportsman.

I’ve stolen…no I didnt..i have asked permission if I could take a safety card from the plane. I have started collecting them sometime ago. Here is a scan for you.

Taus Makhacheva IAA Taus Makhacheva IAA

I find them fascinating…esp from different European airlines: how they portray racial diversity…

Im off to build some walls in the gallery space.



Born to be a Bride

What you are talking about is around me now. My 4th cousin was forced to get married, she didn’t know the man, but he is the same nationality as she. And there was no other option for her. Another far cousin of mine saw her husband to be at their wedding. Some of my relatives still believe and follow caste system. But on the other hand the way they behave towards me and the family in the time of need is just unimaginable…

I was studying in London and over summer went to Dagestan, met my husband (he invited me for a dance at a relatives wedding, that is such a cliché, weddings are full of potential wives searching for the other half ) and married him few years later. It wasn’t an arranged meeting. A happy coincidence for me and my family, in different ways though…

I should watch the Tango again, may be a distant collective experience will bond and heal us.

My mother graduated from art history at Moscow State University, why do you say “ugly ears?”                          Did you do that photographic project in Moscow? Were they aware that you were photographing them? Did you ask permission? Did they sign a photo release form? (release forms are such a pain in the back, glad there is no such thing in Russia yet…)

Tell me what was the education like in Yale? Did you have lectures, tutorials, studios, crits? Russian education in contemporary art is a joke, but that’s a topic for a big discussion. I was planning to do a collaborative work about Russian (extremely traditional) art education.

Sorry to hear about your experience. And im sure he is wrong, you can get smn for less then 1000, 200 sounds real to me, what do you think? I can ask around.



I believe in ART!

Dear Natalia and everyone!!!

Didn’t get a chance to write yesterday. As I was printing invites to a show, trying to put all the equipment together. A friend of mine, Kirill, gave me his hd-ready projector to use in the show (its not full HD, but the quality is better then standard, its 1280×720 if im not mistaken). Blu-ray player I bought myself. And a friend of mine wrote me a disc, as I don’t have a blu-ray writer.

And I think this is a way it happens with most of the artists. You ask, you find, you try…to get some feedback on the show, on the ideas that interest you. But in proportions your efforts are so big and response is so small. My tutor from Goldsmiths Simon Bedwell founded an art collective named BANK  during the 1990s and they did lots of shows in London …and he actually said that in the end they grew tired of existing with no money, working for weeks for just one evening, the opening. One of my favourite works by BANK is Press release 1999, where they corrected press releases  (mistakes and meaningless  philosophical sentences) and faxed them back to the galleries they arrived from…Brilliant institutional critique to my mind.

While I was running around yesterday I had to go to Central House of Artists (btw what do you think of the scandal about proposed demolition of the whole building and replacing it with a new one and residential housing!!!)  New Tretyakov Gallery shares the same building and I went to see a show “Visions of dance. To the 100 anniversary of “Russian Ballets” of Serge Dyagilev in Paris”, co-curated by Zelfira Tregulova, who did an amazing show “Amazons of the Avant-Garde” in Guggenheim.

I was given boot mitts in  the cloakroom to wear in Tretyakovka!!!! I was shocked more then usual because this is a thing you would wear only in hospitals in Russia…

Taus Makhacheva IAA Taus Makhacheva IAA

Was astonished and chatted with invigilating lady about that. She said that its been reintroduced recently. And it is a very good idea. Many museums had this boot mitts policy, when she came to work in Tretyakovka in 1994 visitors had to put on fabric shoes with laces to go in…

Well back to the show. Was amazing. Sketches by Bakst, Benois, Goncharova, Larionov and load of original scenic suits!

Taus Makhacheva IAA

General view

Taus Makhacheva IAA

10×10 original  curtain for the ballet “Blue express”  based on the sketch by Picasso from V&A

I have scanned few images from the catalogue for you, that particularly caught my attention

Taus Makhacheva IAA

Sketch by Boris Anisfield 1911, for the costume of water stream and gold fish. From Sadko, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, underwater world

Taus Makhacheva IAA

Oda ballet 1928

Taus Makhacheva IAA Taus Makhacheva IAA

From Kleopatra 1909, From Kleopatra 1918

Taus Makhacheva IAA Taus Makhacheva IAA Taus Makhacheva IAA

Scheherezade 1910 single act drama, music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Orientalism,clearly present in Scheherezade for example, got me thinking about Dagestan’s traditional costumes, and this strange perception of the East/the Other/Exotic in Russian culture. We (Caucasian nationalities) are perceived as the other now, we look different to Russians. I think we look quite similar to each other, Natalia). Its the nose, its always the big nose that gives away Caucasian ppl. Usually dark hair, and dark female facial hear, was harshly teased for that one in school. This strain of thought leads me to a certain racism towards Caucasian nationalities that is present in Russian, but I just don’t want to lead the discussion in that direction…

While looking at different costumes, settings and footages, I was thinking about my own works, how often I use anthropomorphic figures, creatures in my videos. This is a photo from a video work Karakul 2007 and Space of Celebration 2009 on the IAA website can be an example.

Taus Makhacheva IAA

Was thinking of creating a full cover dress with shapes of our traditional kabalai dress

Taus Makhacheva IAA

But there will be nothing but shape, no face, no colors, but one, no different fabrics,but black or white.And shooting a video, maу be a dance simulation…will try to develop it

That’s all for yesterday)


my background and film

So what is your position as a post-soviet female who grew up in Dagestan?

Taus, I agree with you. A woman coming from our region and cultural background has “a double suppression” one comes from traditional set up another from political regime.
I come from very traditional family, small tripe called Tat or Mountain Jews. My people speak Farsi and practice Judaism. I was brought up as a bright, a future wife or a mother.
Ofcause this has effected my all life…  Nobody in the family discuss my plans or preferences. Nobody questioned my sexuality, gender or the urge to get married. It was always clear that I must belong to a MAN that I don’t know (I couldn’t date him for example) or man I don’t love…

What about you?

… sounds very dramatic but many women from my family followed this fate and feel very unhappy, not to mentione uncomfortable all their live.
I remember  when I got interested in film I watched at the time (early 80’s I think)  forbidden film  “Last Tango in Paris. This was a triumph of sexuality, for me at list. Especially when at the end Schneider kills Brandon)))

I made a decision to leave the country at the age of 19. After my first year in the State University of Moscow where I study art history (ugly ears). one depressing summer I got a job to work as a postman and during this summer I have made a series of photographing work shooting ordinary people when they opened the door to pick up their mail. Later with this work a made a portfolio to apply to Yale University to study film and photography. I went to film screening every night and sometimes I saw 2-3 films a day!  At that time Italian Neorealist, Werner Fassbinder, Breton where my favourite…

more to come. natalia

taus and natalia having a dialogue

never mind my sexuality. I AM A DEAD  WOMAN! 

The charger is off, but soon after I will  have a bit of sleep I will write you back my dear. Having a break in my case is absolutely nessesery since I just arrived from Moscow. Nearly missed my plain. The guy who was giving me a lift, a taxi driver had a hang over. This made him drive real fast, in some point I even thought we are going to take off  but I stay cool. It was not that easy to keep up  conversation and give him a fake smyle. He shared the story about new russian woman style of dating man. As it turns out they only fuck for money and never for love and the smallest price is 1000 dollars. Here you go, its a world wide discussion. Ok, my dear. time to go to bed.   Natalia

sexuality and more

Hello Natalia

So what is your position as a post-soviet female who grew up in Dagestan? In terms of sexuality we get a double suppression here, traditional society and political regime, in 1986 during a USA-USSR tv  discussion a presenter asked if advertising in USSR  exploited sexuality in any way  and Ivanova answered that there IS NOT SEX IN USSR’s… media, of course nobody heard a word media and its a popular saying now, there is no sex in USSR, to see a kiss in a film was a major scene…

I never asked when did you leave Dagestan for UK, did you live anywhere else? What and where did you study?

What do you mean that you never purposefully load your works with sexuality? It seems impossible to me, like your selfportrait as a cleaning girl for example… For me part of the work is about sex, another part is about immaterial labour of the artist, another about identity (orientalism, post-soviet…), or may be i shouldn’t be looking at this work on its own, if it is part of a series

Thank you for your kind words about my research centre idea. The variety of languages in my region often fascinates me too. Two mountain villages (2000 meters above sea level) few km away from each other can have a completely different spoken and written language. After the end of 3rd great caucasian war in 1859 the position of Russian language took off, and now its the common ground for every nationality in Dagestan. We all speak russian and the alphabet for our many languages take cyrillic as a base. Before Stalin we used arabic alphabet, but it was denounced as reactionary, then we had been moved to latin and soon to cyrillic. I think one of the good things about having russian language as a main is progress in education: many people went to study and got access to a vast amount of knowledge.



sexuality in my work


I am glad you began to understand my work. Most likely my recent work is sexually loaded but I never purpousely do that. In my work I try to discussing woman’s role in the society, to be specific in post-soviet society. My body, both physical and mental I use as a tool in order to  express my edeas and my position. speak soon. Natalia

 i was thinking of belonging to some land/soil and what that exploration of belonging means. But we can talk sexuality! Most of your works i saw are very sexually loaded, or may by making them so obviously sexually intense you minimize/destroy real sexuality, im not implying that i know what that is and if there is such thing as real sexuality…?  What is your body to you? I think we both use ourselves in our works but in a very different way…

your idea

My dear friend. Your idea about setting up a lybrary in Makhachkala city sounds VELIKOLEPNO, which means Wonderful. I am going do discuss your proposal with EC as soon as I get back. I am putting together a long list of exhibitions and events that I want to help to develope and find ways to organise. The importnace of this project is to  introduce the culture of Caucasus region in the West as well as to unclude  trans-regional which to me means trans-national element. I am not sure if  Europian Council clearly aware of that… In the  Region we speak more then 38 independent languages if not more.   Would be great to meet again. Natalia

some visuals

Taus Makhacheva

Last winter working pic (shooting video), near Tsada mountain village, Dagestan

Taus Makhacheva

Last winter not shooting anything picture near Ahalchi mountain village, Dagestan

both taken by my friend Dana Rakhimbekova (having the need to credit every image must be a residual effect of my working as a picture editor)

Urgently needed some color in our dialogue

in the night

i dont drink coffee usually, its my second cup tonight. Im trying to go blu-ray, as it is just so annoying to see you full HD video shrink to a dreadful dvd compression. Im looking for equipment to take to Dagestan as the gallery cant provide any and there is no rental services…

Thinking about our conversation today, your idea about Caucasian foundation is very promising. And i would love to take part and suggest a project i wanted to realise. I wanted to create centre for fine art studies in the National Library of the Republic of Dagestan, because you cant imagine, but there is no collection on contemporary art in the library.  It will include acquiring a large collection of publications in English and Russian (philosophy, contemporary art, cultural studies etc). Many organisations (ICA Moscow, etc) and libraries are willing to donate/exchange publications already. A large media library as part of the centre will be created, holding films and videos, that would not be available in the republic otherwise. A program of lectures for artists will be developed, lecturers and artists from Europe will be invited to take part. That’s on the grand scale! ) But to start of i was thinking of buying 5-10 books per month from amazon with my personal cash…

Dirt…is that collage your perception of dirt?

i was thinking of belonging to some land/soil and what that exploration of belonging means. But we can talk sexuality! Most of your works i saw are very sexually loaded, or may by making them so obviously sexually intense you minimize/destroy real sexuality, im not implying that i know what that is and if there is such thing as real sexuality…?  What is your body to you? I think we both use ourselves in our works but in a very different way…



Taus Makhacheva

I can only think of bad lighting and stress in this photo. Its kind of odd writing smth while sitting next to you. Bloggers destiny…translating smth real into words…never gave much credit to bloggers…and that was my big mistake…Will show you my latest work n0w, to make our encounter more real)))


your sence of humore


Regarding your comment on dirt. sending you my image )))

Please make your comments. Natalia
Natalia Mali

get together

Good morn, my dear Taus. We should def get together in Moscow! Can’t wait to see you.
Ah, MOSKAU. What a grey city! Getting drunk would be great, dont know if I can affort such a pleasure… found that lovely place “homemade cafe” near the Film School, GITES. They’ve got e-connection. What a bless! Thanks for your tip.
I am going to stay here til my next meeting (14:15) with the architects. Why don’t you stop by to see me here? Let me know. Will send you my mob number.

arh…got so carried away with my dirt, mud and decay that forgot to answer your question. I sure can record my talks and post it here, but i think the photos will carry as much information for most people as video, will do it anyway to get some feedback from you and may be russian-speaking readers, if there are any, any? anyone? smb talk to me?

Mud is Mud

Tell me more about your planned show in Moscow, are you showing the works i saw on IAA website or smth else? I am considering the audience in Makhachkala and altering the course i read last year at Moscow State University. To do 11 lectures last year was one hard thing for me, because i am mrs.Chaos, and as my husband puts it: if i were to lead the flock of sheep across the ditch, i definitely wouldn’t take them across one by one, but lead them all through at once. It will be fine in the end but me and the whole flock would be exhausted and dirty…i don’t mind dirt actually, what do you think about dirt?

So Taus did you want to be an artist since you were little?

No, no, no, one of  the first encounters with contemporary art that i remember, was a performance in the gallery. My Mom, who is an art historian took me there. I think the performance was called Zikr by Ibragim Sup’yanov, and had religious connotations to it, in the course of it a few men were walking in a circle praying, while their feet were dripping with paint. And i  think smb asked me whether i wanted to be an artist and i thought and said later on to my mom that NO WAY, it is not a real thing/job, you don’t know what to do, there is no money, no working hours (of course the thoughts were more blurry in a child’s imagination, but smth like that anyway). When i was a child i sincerely wanted to be a clown and when visiting circus i thought that all children here must want the same thing and how damn hard it will be to become a clown with that amount of competition. Thank you for your question.

Oh and since we are both in Moscow at the moment i think we should meet up and do smth, before you leave and i leave on friday! Let’s see a show! get drunk! Or maybe you want me to take smth to Dagestan, like a plant…? I didnt randomly type a plant…and to take a more serious tone, before my grandfather died (Rasul Gamzatov-he was a poet ) he asked people to bring handfuls of  soil/earth from different countries to his grave. Makes me think of the artworks done around relocating soil from one country to another and what does that mean, does it hold any information without our knowledge…or mud is mud?

Eager regards,


in Moscow

Hello Taus. Happy to hear from your. I am in Moscow for 4 days to make some arrangements about my next show in January. Preparing for it right now.
I am glad that you will be making an artist talk, a series of lectures in First Gallery, Makhchkala. I have done the same in 2004 and it was a fantastic experience. The audience was very curious.  I would love to come to your artist talk, maybe yo can tape the event and post footage on imagine art after. That would be fun to see. I will speak to you very, very soon. Glad that we finally in conversation. Natalia


Dear Breda and Eline thank you for this project!

Dear Natalia!

How are you?  What are working on now? Tell me smth about your plans for the near future? Im sitting in a scary cafe near Paveletskaya train station in Moscow. In Russia places round train stations are  a no no, not only in Russia i guess.) Im going to see a play tonight (  its part of the new european theatre festival, called Great War by Hotel Modern company from Netherlands. It reminds me of the works of some artists i saw, will expand this idea as i get back home tonight.  I have a show opening in a bit more then a week in Makhachkala (Dagestan) and will be giving few lectures on performance art, so ill be flying back this friday. I will be showing my latest video work A Space of Celebration in Pervaya (1st) gallery in a form of video installation. Natalia, i know that you had a show in that gallery some time ago, what was your experience like?

Im off to my friends studio. Speak soon.

Warm regards,



Welcome to imagine art after! Taus, Natalia, where are you now? What are you up to?