Public Lecture by Saodat Ismailova - 16 May 2024

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Join us for a public lecture by Saodat Ismailova (filmmaker) on the 16th of May (19:30) at the Netherlands Film Academy.

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At this Public Lecture, Saodat Ismailova (filmmaker) will screen one of her recent works that incorporates footage from the Eye collection, 18.000 Worlds (2023). Saodat will unfold the process of making a film from personal and public film archives, striving to delve into deeper levels of personal memory that intersect with collective experience, addressing political transformations, acknowledging traumas, and embracing the present as it unfolds. In her childhood, she once heard from a Muslim mystical about the existence of 18 000 worlds, and that we might be only one of them. From this knowledge on light and time, she navigates through landscapes once captured by her camera. Twenty years of footage gathered while making her films, researches or art works, mostly inspired by Zoroastrian traces that survive until today in Central Asia and bound to natural elements: fire, earth, air, water… For the filmmaker, consequently, the film becomes a protective experience, even an amulette, structured through circular and repetitive narration, daring to defy conventional film norms.

Drawing upon Central Asian cultures, the artist develops a pensive, visually engaging, collaborative practice in an exploration of Uzbekistan multilayered realities. Women’s histories and modes of being play a significant role in her practice, especially feminine modes of knowing, which in the region are transmitted matrilineally. She also engages with the larger-than-human actors and ecological issues of these localities, reviving ideas of animism and shamanism. She investigates the historical complexities and layered culture, at the crossroads of diverse material histories and migratory legacies, skillfully interweaving myths, rituality, and dreams within the tapestry of everyday life. Her work suggests the intensity and concentration that gives these familiar themes a sense of momentum. The tumultuous socio-political trajectory of this region looms in the background, as successive regimes have led to the erosion of languages, traditions, and natural environment. Ismailova acknowledges these losses, yet her work primarily serves as a tribute to the spiritually rich world of porous terrains and challenges an imperial vision of Eurasia.