Review /

Orkhan Huseynov YARAT Contemporary Art Space / Baku

Orkhan Huseynov’s solo exhibition “Dear Beloved” presents a body of work that questions the border between reality and fiction. Using black humor and persistent references to scientific knowledge, each work tests the viewer’s credulity.

Upon entering the Soviet-era naval building, the exhibition space branches off to different areas where works are presented in isolation from one other, with the exception of the oldest work on view, the video The War on 30th February (2007), which is located at the end of a long corridor. This video, a seeming documentary about a war in Baku that in fact never happened, acts as a anchor for the other projects and suggests the exhibition’s theme: fake narratives.

The installation Dear Beloved (2017) displays a hardcover book, placed on a wooden desk in a semi-dark environment. The book consists of a collection of scam e-mails, either in English or Azeri, laid out within with an elegant design. Huseynov refers to them as works of contemporary literature. The Azeri word for scam, firildak, connotes “whirligig,” a toy or an object that spins or whirls. The notion of “spin” overlaps with the ever-shifting ground between the “real” and the “fake” as facts dissolve into fiction. Huseynov doubles down on this paradox with video works that illustrate two of the e-mails.

Calentamiento Global (2017) is a collection of fragments from Mexican soap operas of the 1990s with Azeri voice-overs. Hüseynov decontextualizes and recontextualizes these telenovelas by writing conflicting dialogue about the subject of “global warming.” The scripts are absurd indictments of how we value scientific information.

Colorado Beetle (2017) depicts Azeri musicians singing four songs written by the artist. Here again, Huseynov plays with double meanings, as “Colorado beetle” is also slang for “faker.” Yet there is also black-and-white documentary footage about ecological problems related to the Colorado beetle within the region. Such elements blur stories with known facts, confirming the real’s loss of credibility.

by Basak Senova