Book Talk

Field Essays: Q. Meanderings in worlds of mourning

Rolando Vázquez, Saodat Ismailova and Sophie Krier

We are happy to host a conversation initiated by Rijksakademie advisor Rolando Vázquez between him, Saodat Ismailova and Sophie Krier on the occasion of their publication ‘Field Essays # 5: Q. Meanderings in worlds of mourning’, during the opening weekend of Ismailova’s first major retrospective at EYE Filmmuseum.

In their conversation at the Rijksakademie, they will expand upon questions addressed in the book: Can a book be a gesture of offering rather than a space of enunciation? Can it be a space of listening that can reconfigure inherited Western modes of thinking and working and create a space of “coming to voice” for silenced histories and life lines?

To attend, please RSVP. Admission is free.

About the book

The 5th issue of Field Essays, released at documenta fifteen, brings together Uzbek artist and filmmaker Saodat Ismailova with decolonial thinker Rolando Vázquez. While Ismailova came of age in the post-Soviet era of Central Asia, Vázquez carries within him the open questions of Abya Yala (Latin America). The book sets out on a journey to find out what these differing cultures can learn from each other in terms of mourning and healing the triple colonial wound of timelessness, earthlessness and worldlessness (Vázquez: 2018). The name given to this book and journey is ‘Q. Meanderings in worlds of mourning’. Q stands for the Uzbek word qyrq, number 40, which connects to many parts of Uzbek culture: 40 (+1) spirits, 40 hottest and coldest days, but also 40 girls, an ancestral matriarchal epos, and a 40 day silence retreat at transition moments in life (death, birth, marriage).

Field Essays (2008—ongoing) is a series of books approached as a listening pause between thinkers/practitioners from all walks of life and academia; a pocket size conversation on radical practices in the arts, humanities and social sciences. It manifests itself through book-related encounters (exhibitions, workshops, podcasts, round tables, field trips). Moving back and forth between reflection and fieldwork, Field Essays is an attempt at weaving an embodied and situated vocabulary of art-based making.

Field Essays is initiated and led by Atelier Sophie Krier and channelled through Onomatopee Projects.

Rolando Vázquez

Rolando Vázquez is a teacher and decolonial thinker. He is Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Utrecht and guest advisor at the Rijksakademie. His work places the question of the possibility of an ethical life at the core of decolonial thought and advocates for the decolonial transformation of cultural and educational institutions. Since 2010, Vázquez co-directs with Walter Mignolo the annual María Lugones Decolonial Summer School, now hosted by the Van Abbemuseum. In 2016, under the direction of Gloria Wekker, he co-authored the report ’Let’s do Diversity’ of the University of Amsterdam Diversity Commission. His most recent publication is ‘Vistas of Modernity: Decolonial aesthesis and the End of the Contemporary’ (Mondriaan Fund 2020).

Saodat Ismailova

Saodat Ismailova lives and works between Tashkent and Paris, and belongs to a generation of artists from Central Asia who came of age in the post-Soviet era. Her body of work summons the fabric of which the soul of Central Asian peoples is woven from – by lending a voice to dreams, myths, legends, and rituals. Her work circles around practices of mourning and ancestrality by foregrounding matriarchal narratives, and stories telling the loss of worlds. Ismailova’s debut ‘Zukhra’ (2013), on which Field Essays #5 focuses, was featured as an installation at the Central Asian Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale. In 2022 she won the Eye Art & Film Prize. On 21 January, the first major retrospective of her work, ‘18 000 Worlds’, opens at Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.

Sophie Krier

Sophie Krier is a relational artist and researcher. Through her work she interweaves biographies of beings and places, and conceives tools and situations for collective narration and reflection. Her practice alternates between extended periods of fieldwork with local communities, and editorial work. Her work is about mending relationships between beings and places. As an artist and researcher, she interweaves histories, imaginaries and embodied experiences – as an educator and editor she shares and publishes these processes.


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