Who is Saodat Ismailova?

Saodat Ismailova (Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 1981) is a filmmaker from the first gener­ation of Central Asian artists in the post-So­viet era. She lives and works between Paris and Tashkent.

What characterizes Ismailova's work?

Her films and installations explore the collective memory, spiritual practices, rituals, and ancestral knowledge of her na­tive region to address issues of cultural her­itage, the representation of femininity, and resistance to the impact of human activity on the environment. 

Ismailova expresses a particular interest in the history of Central Asia, with special attention being focused on women's history and cultural practices. The oneiric quality of her cinema is emphasized by its slow pace and the rhythmic cadence of her editing.

What were Ismailova's early career steps?

Ismailova studied film at Tashkent State Art Institute. In 2002 she accepted an offer to continue her studies at Fabbrica, Centre for the Study of Arts, in Treviso. She then studied the art of directing and scriptwriting at the Sundance Institute in the United States. From 2015 to 2017 Ismailova studied at Le Fresnoy – France’s National Studio of Contemporary Art in Lille.

In 2013 her first video installation was shown in the Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which put her on a major stage very early in her career. Her work is held in the collections of Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and Centre Pompidou in Paris.

What are Ismailova's notable exhibitions?

Ismailova had solo exhibitions at Centre for Contemporary Art in Tromsø, Musée de quai Branly in Paris and Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. Her first solo exhibition was presented at Kunstsammlungen und Museen Augsburg in 2015.

In 2022 she won the Eye Art & Film Prize, organised by Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, which included a solo exhibition as part of the award. She also had her work shown as part of documenta fifteen in Kassel in 2022 and in the central exhibition at the Venice Biennial in 2022.

In 2023, Ismailova was included in the Shanghai Biennial. In September 2024, Ismailova will have a solo exhibition at Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan, the first comprehensive survey of her work in an Italian institution.

Saodat Ismailova. 18,000 Worlds, January 21 – June 4, 2023, Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam. Exhibition view of The Haunted, 2017. HD video installation, 23 min. 30 sec, colour and black & white, stereo. Image courtesy Eye Filmmuseum. Photograph by Studio Hans Wilschut.
What awards has Ismailova won?

Ismailova has received numerous awards throughout her career, including: Eye Art & Film Prize (2022); Documenta Madrid (2018); Golden Alhambra Award, Granada Film Festival Cines del Sur; Tashkent International Biennale of Contemporary Art (2014); Turin International Film Festival for Best Documentary (2004).

What projects is Ismailova involved in?

Ismailova has initiated several educational programs and projects including CCA Lab and Tashkent Film Encounters. She also founded the research group DAVRA.

Where can I find more information about Ismailova?

More information can be found on her Instagram profile and her Vimeo page. Read this recent interview in AUGUSTMAN.

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