Museum // Charivari

Fries Museum in collaboration with Taus Makhacheva / recording and mix / 2021

The highlight of the exhibition is the work Charivari (2019), which will be shown in the Netherlands for the first time. The installation is reminiscent of a circus, with trapezes and performers’ costumes. The title refers to the closing act, when clowns, acrobats and other performers all enter the circus ring at the same time to show off their skills. The installation is a colourful mix of sculptures, impossible-to-wear costumes, and absurdist audio stories by Alexander Snegirev which describe a Borges-like reality featuring a talking horse, synthetic bears, a sheep inside a gymnast inside a lion, along with other tales that humorously describe the human condition in its various aspects.

Makhacheva: ‘As a child, I loved the circus, and even dreamed of becoming a clown. Unlike other cultural venues, in Soviet times the circus was where you could make ambivalent jokes, there was certain freedom of expression. And I am often drawn to works that address serious issues, concerns and fears in a playful manner. We live in turbulent times. In a sense, a person is always in a state of a two or three-point earthquake. Many lands and landmarks are disappearing, but very few new ones are lingering on the horizon. Societies are torn between different value systems, trying to grasp what development means and how to move on. One must either hold on to petrified wood or become pliant. In the Caucasus, it seems to me that the concept of flexibility is perceived in two ways. On the one hand, this society with its bubbling self-irony is very flexible, but on the other, it fears that certain types of flexibility can destroy the rigid shell of its identity.’