Saodat Ismailova was born in 1981 in Tashkent. She works and lives between Tashkent and Paris. She studied film and has made fiction films and documentaries, which have won awards at various international festivals. In 2013, she presented her first video installation, Zukhra, at the Venice Biennale Central Asian Pavilion. Since then, she has focused on the intersection of cinema and visual arts. Successfully: in 2022 her work was selected for both the 59th Venice Biennale and documenta fifteen.
Saodat Ismailova is an important voice within the first generation of Central Asian artists to come of age in the post-Soviet era. In her work, she investigates the rich, complex and layered culture of the region where she was born. She portrays the spirit of Central Asia, crossroads of cultures, leaving lots of space for intuition, stories and music.
Ismailova interweaves myths, rituals and dreams with everyday life. She calls our attention, in a nuanced way, to social issues such as ecological problems and women’s right to decide whether to wear the veil. Women’s identities and emancipation is a recurring theme in her work. Women play an important role in keeping cultural and spiritual heritage alive – for example by passing on stories and customs from mother to daughter, generation after generation.
Notable recent exhibitions include Sharjah Biennial 15 (2023), 59th Venice Biennale (2022), documenta fifteen (2022) and solo shows at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam (2023) and at Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing (2023). Saodat Ismailova’s works are now in collections of Сentre Pompidou in Paris, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, FRAC in France, Almaty Museum of Arts and Tselinny Temporary in Almaty.