M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Leuvenstraat 32, 2000 Antwerp (BE)
In response to the historical fate of his nation (not least the two Chechen Wars of 1994-2009), Aslan Gaisumov is developing an oeuvre that feeds on, but also transforms and transcends, personal and collective memory. His works are poised between visual immediacy and social commentary. They are mostly videos and installations incorporating found and purposely crafted objects.
Yet ‘history painting’ is a term that comes to mind when we experience works such as the video installation Volga (2015). Its protagonists are a white Soviet-made car – which gave the work its title – some twenty adults and children and a rain-soaked autumnal field. Approaching the car from different points on the horizon, all these people somehow manage to squeeze into it and drive out of the frame, into an unknown future. We don’t really need to know that this is a faithful reconstruction of a real event, experienced by the artist himself during the First Chechen War.
Gaisumov is loyal to the culture he was born into, but also willing and able to formulate his own stance towards it. He doesn’t shy away from big difficult topics such as History, Culture and Identity, but neither does he allow them to eclipse his criticality and quest for the aesthetically convincing.