Culture clash in Azerbaijan Pavilion in Venice

At the Azerbaijani Pavilion of this year’s 57th Biennale di Venezia, Prof. Dr. Martin Roth, the former director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Emin Mammadov, the artistic adviser of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, are curating the exhibition UNDER ONE SUN. The Art of Living Together. Art Daily reports in its article Global crises meets peaceful culture clash in Azerbaijan Pavilion that the Azerbaijani Pavilion of this year’s 57th Biennale di Venezia is being presented in the Palazzo Lezze from the 13th of May to the 26th of November 2017. The exhibition UNDER ONE SUN. Art of Living Together by artist Elvin Nabizade and the visual performance group HYPNOTICA is shown on two floors with a number of imposing works by both artists. 

In Azerbaijan many people from very different backgrounds have lived alongside each other since time immemorial. Within a major region that combines European and Eastern civilizations, it is unavoidable that religion, philosophy, and political theories confront each other. The peaceful cohabitation of different cultures in Azerbaijan and the preservation of the best traditions of Eastern hospitality spark wonder in this age of globalization, ethnic conflicts, intolerance, and aggression. The metaphorical title UNDER ONE SUN. The Art of Living Together, explains the subjects of this exhibition, focusing on the cultural and ethnical diversity in Azerbaijan. It is mostly about the tolerance that has developed among these groups over the years. At the same time, however, it sends a hidden message about the challenges they are facing in order to maintain peace. Furthermore, it demonstrates Azerbaijan’s continuous effort towards a peaceful solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 

At the entrance of the pavilion the visual performance group HYPNOTICA has set up twenty monitors showing an ethnic minority speaking its own language. Personal interviews merge into one another on the screens. The unity that is created through the text and the language, and that is especially emphasized by an anthropomorphic sculpture, reflects the different ethnic groups living together in one country. In parallel, the artist Elvin Nabizade presents an installation named after the exhibition’s title that fills an entire room on the first floor. Cultural diversity is also his main theme. He shows approximately fifty Saz, traditional string instruments, that resemble the form of a rainbow. Symbolically, it is not only the act of speaking, but also the common language of music that connects the various minorities. 

The exhibition points out the ethnic diversity in Azerbaijan and the harmony between its cultures. Respect for the many different origins and traditions of these cultures have guaranteed their survival up to the present day. Azerbaijan may thus help to orient and guide other nations plagued by internal conflict. 



Elvin Nabizade (b. 1986 in Bolnisi, Georgia) studied at the Faculty of Sculpture at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Azerbaijan and graduated in 2012. His artistic work comprises sculptures and installations around the themes of self-identification and national culture. For years he has participated in several group exhibitions in Azerbaijan. The principal features of Nabizade’s works are installations showing the alienation of the local music instrument, the Saz. He uses this instrument, well known in the Caucasian region, and the power of its music and art to create a whole new concept. 



HYPNOTICA, a visual performance group founded in 2009, realizes light installations and one of the most popular directions in video art: video mapping. Well-received presentations nationally and internationally led to considerable international interest in the groups’ works. Among other projects, the group created light effects on large facades of buildings in order to highlight different emotional aspects of the interaction between the object and its environment. 

HYPNOTICA Team: Javid Guliyev, Anar Gurbanov, Aygun Hasanova, Agharahim Ibrahimov, Narmin Israfilova, Farkhad Farzaliyev, Orkhan Sheydayev, Leyla Gabulova

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