2012 Commonist, group exhibition, YARAT Alternative Space, Baku, Azerbaijan (September 22 – October 22)
Aida Mahmudova's work consistently encompasses aspects of memory and nostalgia. The objects the composes, whether photographs, paintings, or installations, ruminate on notion of "longing" — specifically, the longing for the memory of a place, rather than the place itself. Her work ruminates on how memory is tied to the debris and the material of a past life rather than simply the locale or context.
Mahmudova's pieces for the exhibition consist of both a painting and an installation. The veiled painting is composed of muted hues and is shrouded in a hazy mist that conveys both actual and fabricated memory.
The image is based on a scene constructed from actual elements of old Baku and the Absheron Peninsula. However, it is infused with childhood memories and blurred recollections. The image echoes a sense of longing - the longing for a home to which one cannot return. The installation reconstructs the half-remembered scene of the painting. It literally consists of aspects of Mahmudova herself – her clothes and belongings, as well as objects scoured from around Baku. In the total installation, Mahmudova is at both an artist and curator, and literer and trash collector.
Both the painting and the installation attempt to capture that which cannot be completely recalled. They ruminate on the spatial and temporal labyrinth of time, essentially conveying both the impossibility of 'returning home' as well the slow pace of a soviet era of stagnation. The compositions capture the essence of a diaspora of memory. The memories, while based in the native city of Baku, nonetheless unfold through the superimposition of both childhood recollections and foreign lands.
The pieces illustrate that nostalgia depends on the materiality of place: sensual perceptions, smells, and sounds. In an era of rampant technological and urban development, mass globalization, migration, and the growth of richly multicultural environments, Mahmudova's work makes clear that nostalgia for a place is more than a specific locale, and more than merely a desire for a specific context. It is the remembered sensations of the debris of a past life. The compositions explain the mystery of what we long for when we are nostalgic and in that sense limn the delicate compositions.
(From Commonist exhibition catalogue, 2012)