Saodat Ismailova: To Share a Dream With a River

Saodat Ismailova: To Share a Dream With a River

Saodat Ismailova, Chillpiq (still), 2018.

Saodat Ismailova: To Share a Dream With a River
Screening and discussion

Admission starts at $5

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December 7, 2023, 7pm
172 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Join us at e-flux Screening Room on Thursday, December 7 at 7pm for To Share a Dream With a River, a rare screening of films by Saodat Ismailova, guest-curated by Tamara Khasanova and supported by CEC ArtsLink. The screening will be followed by a discussion between the artist and the curator.

To Share a Dream With a River is a cine-topographic unfolding that draws its title from a scene in Ismailova’s film, Stains of Oxus. Over the course of this twenty-four-minute film, one bears witness to the changes in landscapes and climate conditions while three protagonists narrate their dreams. “When I woke up, I shared this dream with the river,” recounts one of the protagonists. The river she refers to is the Amu Darya, known in the past by its Ancient Greek name Oxus. Throughout the film program, the entirety of the Amu Darya basin presents an epistemic, material, and psychic space for exercising alternative ways of ecological relating that center exchanges between human and more-than-human forms of living. The river’s embrace is an anchor for many subjects that rely on this body of water.

Ismailova’s films shed light on the challenges faced in Central Asia due to vanishing water sources and desertification, a result of decades of Russian imperial and Soviet development projects intended to modernize local landscapes. Where these regimes understood these spaces via an extractivist logic, Ismailova draws upon ancestral knowledge, rituals, and dreaming to resist these lines of reasoning.

Two other films in the program further the conversation on the shifting narratives of these complex biomes. In The Haunted, a hypnotic semifictional film essay, the narrator conjures the spirit of the now-extinct Turan (Caspian) tiger, whose habitat depended on the basin of the Amu Darya. The last film, Chillpiq, wordlessly follows women as they perform a fertility ritual at a site near the riverbanks in Karakalpakstan. As the river unfolds in time and space, close and far, it carries its inhabitants and their stories along with it, concluding their shared course in the Aral Sea.

The Haunted (2017, 23 minutes) takes the form of an open letter to the Turan tiger. A majestic symbol of the Central Asian landscape, this animal has been extinct for several decades but lives on as a sacred symbol in the collective imagination of the local population. In her captivating film essay, Ismailova pays homage to the tiger as she shows how firmly bound it is to the region’s history.

Stains of Oxus (2016, 24 minutes) follows a transformation of the landscape of the Amu Darya riverbanks and the people that inhabit them, beginning from the high plateau in Tajikistan to the lowland deserts in Uzbekistan, where the river finds its end.

Chillpiq (2018, 17 minutes) begins with a scene of two buses emerging on the horizon as they drive toward Chillpiq. A group of forty girls climb the ruins that stand atop a mount in the middle of the steppe. One by one, they tie pieces of cloth to a flagpole that crowns the archeological site, and worship it as a symbol of life. The girls circle the shrine while the setting sun changes the light to an orange glow, blurring their silhouettes as they disappear into the site.

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–Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue.      
–For elevator access, please RSVP to The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space.               
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the Screening Room and this bathroom.

Film, Feminism, Nature & Ecology
Caucasus & Central Asia, Landscape, Animals, Soviet Union, Extractivism, Human - Nonhuman Relations

Saodat Ismailova is a filmmaker and artist who came of age in the post-Soviet era in Central Asia. She graduated from Tashkent State Art Institute in Uzbekistan and Le Fresnoy, National Studio of Contemporary Arts in France. Her films and video installations have been presented at the Venice Biennale, Sharjah Biennial, documenta fifteen (Kassel), Shanghai Biennial, Berlinale International Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, CPH DOX (Copenhagen), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), and Parasite (Hong Kong). Her stage work has appeared at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music, Musée du Quai Branly (Paris), and other venues around the world.

Tamara Khasanova is a curator, researcher, and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She received an MA degree in Curatorial Practice from the School of Visual Arts. She currently serves as an Archives Assistant at e-flux.

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