London

Taus Makhacheva, Baida, 2017,
HD video, color, sound, 15 minutes
31 seconds. Installation view. Photo: Judita Kuniskyte.

Taus Makhacheva

narrative projects

Taus Makhacheva, Baida, 2017,
HD video, color, sound, 15 minutes
31 seconds. Installation view. Photo: Judita Kuniskyte.

The title of Taus Makhacheva’s exhibition “BaidÀ” is a pun: Without the accent on the A, the word refers to a name for a cheap boat used by poachers fishing in the Caspian Sea for beluga (European sturgeon), but with the accent added, it becomes Russian slang for a nonsensical or unbelievable story. The fish, an endangered species, remains the source of two treasured products: caviar and isinglass. (The latter, made from the fish’s swim bladder, is used to consolidate paint and is highly valued by art conservators.) Because of the sturgeon’s protected status, fishing for it is not only precarious but at times illegal—yet high unemployment in the region inevitably draws fishermen to poaching. Makhacheva, though, refuses to judge the workers engaged in this trade. Instead, having interviewed some of them in Dagestan, she drew a parallel between the precarity of their labor and

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