The Strong Ones

Taus Makhacheva

07.03.2019 - 25.04.2019

HIT Gallery
Hviezdoslavovo nám. 18, Bratislava

curator: Lýdia Pribišová

photo: Imam Guseinov, Taus Makhacheva, Adam Šakový

Exhibition opening: March 7, 2019 at 6:00 PM

The exhibition runs until April 25, 2019

opening hours: Tue – Thu: 3:00 – 6:00 PM


The Russian-Dagestani artist Taus Makhacheva has caught worldwide attention through her multilayered performance-based videos and installations, many of which deconstruct the traditions and culture of Dagestan, a federal subject of Russia located in the Caucasus Mountains. Her origins often form a starting point for examining the tensions between tradition and modernity and between assimilation and cultural authenticity following the Sovietization of Dagestan. Descended from the Avars, the predominant ethnic group within Dagestan, but born in Moscow, educated in London, and currently splitting her time between Russia and the rest of the world, Makhacheva uses her works to interpret national narrative. While various aspects of this approach might suggest self-colonization, she offsets this charge through her dry humor. She examines the symbolic dimension of cultural life and the relationships between history, politics and popular culture. Her earlier works test the limits of self-identification through the cultural or physical landscape by using experiments with costuming, camouflage, and choreography.


The exhibition’s selection of works explores gender stereotypes, in particular behavioral models and performative masculinity in traditional rural and urban culture. Standing in as an anthropologist, Makhacheva examines male power games that developed in the past but continue to spread into the present day. Dagestani attributes of masculinity and body language appear to be quite similar to the Slovak collective imaginary.


The video The Fast and the Furious (2011) shows Makhacheva’s infiltration of the male world of street racing in the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala with an SUV covered in furs recycled from Soviet fur coats from Moscow’s flea markets. For the three-channel video installation Let Me Be Part of a Narrative (2012), Makhacheva explores the northern Caucasus’s culture of dogfighting. She juxtaposes an all-male event, the Dagestan Dog Fighting Championship, with a Soviet documentary on the Dagestani five-time world champion wrestler Ali Aliev. In both examples, she accurately detects the same impulse – the competitive spirit as a form of masculine self-expression, achieved by converting violence into symbolic form. The video Vocabulary (since 2012) is a collection of male power gestures in daily communication, performed on the streets of Makhachkala (Dagestan). The only female figure in the exhibition is the artists’ alter ego, Super Taus and Yasha the Camel, a superhero standing on a camel, a contrapuntal gesture for the equilibration of gender forces.

Taus Makhacheva (b. 1983, Moscow, Russia) lives and works in Moscow, Russia. In 2007, she completed a BA program in Contemporary Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. From 2008 to 2009, she studied New Artistic Strategies at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow. In 2013 she received a master’s degree in Contemporary Art from Royal College of Art in London. Selected exhibitions: Manifesta, Palermo (2018); Venice Biennial (2017); Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art (2017, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art); Museum ON/OFF, Centre Pompidou (2016); Shanghai Biennial (2016); Kyiv Biennial (2015); Moscow Biennale (2015 and 2011); Sharjah Biennial (2013); Liverpool Biennial (2012). Makhacheva us winner of the 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art Foundation Prize (Moscow, 2015), the “Future of Europe” Prize from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig (2014), and the “New Generation – Innovation” State Prize (2012).

Supported using public funding from the Slovak Arts Council.