On show from 22 May to 11 September 2016, the installation, entitled Red / Red, is on view in Mathaf’s Project Space, dedicated to emerging artists and curators’ experimentations with new ideas and forms of presentation.
Presented by Qatar Museums under the leadership of its Chairperson, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, this is the first presentation at Mathaf of Red / Red, following its production for the 14th Istanbul Biennial. The installation comprises six delicate drawings made on worn papers and 10 handmade notebooks made with two inks: Armenian red, extracted from the endangered Armenian cochineal insect, and Turkish red, now used in the national flag.
Red / Red is significant as Armenian red is a disappearing material. Historically produced from carminic acid, the pigment is extracted from the “Ararat”, or Armenian cochineal, an endangered insect that lives in the roots of a plant in the Ararat Plain and Aras River valley that runs through and alongside Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. On the Turkish side of the river, knowledge of how to produce Armenian cochineal red has been lost since 1915, while on the Armenian side, the plant and insect are threatened by extinction due to 20th century industrialisation.
The work in Red / Red explores this pigment’s disappearance, speaking to the political and ecological histories of this region. Red / Red advocates for the protection of the delicate social and organic systems of the Aras valley – human, plant, and animal life – to support a communally protected ecosystem and shared knowledge of production that will preserve the recording of its collective past, present and future existence.
To open her installation, Çavuşoğlu gave a public talk, part of the Mathaf Talk series, at Mathaf on 22 May, during which she discussed and presented her work.
Commenting on the installation, Abdellah Karroum, Director of Mathaf, said:
We are delighted to present this latest installation by Asli Çavuşoğlu in Mathaf’s Project Space. Project Space is dedicated to supporting new artistic and curatorial tendencies and building dialogue around them. Presenting this work here opens an important conversation with a public audience about contemporary uses and readings of material cultures and their histories, in this case specific to Armenia and Turkey.’
During her research, Asli Çavuşoğlu explored the histories and traditions of the Armenian pigment’s extraction, and its use in the making of historic manuscripts from Eastern Anatolia to Armenia. The patterns of the drawings on show modernise from floral to geometric shapes, and show the resilience of each pigment as it transforms over time. In the works, the Turkish red holds its colour while the Armenian fades, narrating the changing physical and symbolic links to national culture, identity and memory.
Mathaf houses the largest and most extensive permanent collection of modern and contemporary art in the region, mainly focusing on the region and its historical and cultural connection from North Africa to Asia, and from Turkey and Iran. Mathaf has more than 9,000 works in it is care, dating from the 19th century to the present day.
In addition to the public talk, a number of educational events and initiatives will be taking place as part this installation exhibitions.
For more information visit Mathaf website