Audio installation “Charivari” (2019) is a part of a large-scale eponymous multimedia project based on the archival materials on the USSR circus tradition in general, and the history of Baku State Сircus in particular.
According to one of the versions, the word charivari comes from Latin caribaria that means ‘headache’. But the audio installation does not bring any discomfort, on the contrary, thanks to the 10 novels featured in the piece, listeners are emerged into the atmosphere of “festive carnival and circus performance”, as announced by the invisible master of ceremonies. The term charivari refers to a specific circus act – a mass circus performance composed of solo and group multi-genre pieces presented simultaneously. With every act, the rhythm gets faster, and the technical complexity of the performance increases until, ultimately, the arena becomes full of floating figures. The same way, the installation invites to the arena flamingoes filled with cognac, trained Baku tomatoes, a strongwoman accountant and such a stunning routine as “pyramids of inflatable elephants. Standing on them – hippos; standing on them – poodles; and on them – a giraffe.”.
But despite being seemingly humorous and whimsical, the work acts as a witty and often controversial socio-political proposition on the contemporary life. Thus, it continues traditions of the Soviet circus not only in its form but in its content, too. Despite being a form of mainstream entertainment, the circus provided an environment in which the boldest and most daring statements could be made revealing the pressure points of its contemporaneity. The same way, a chaotic make-believe circus of Taus Machacheva introduces reflections on the human role in the resource-based economy, on equal rights and “mutual eating”, on the plurality of identifications and on what bread and circuses mean for the people of today.
Architect Maria Serova
Installation production Novruz Mammadov
Text Alexander Snegirev
Costume design Panika Derevya
Costume production: Panika Derevya, Anastasia Markova, Alina Sarancha, Scenic Costume Studio M’Art, Costume Studio Ginger Rose
Production: Sanan Bagirov, Kristina Cherniavskaia, Sadagat Isayeva
Sound design: Denis Dronov, Maksim Nikolayev, PicMus Production
Voice actors: Yury Brezhnev, Kristina Cherniavskaia, Anton Kostochkin, Agniya Kuznetsova, Gladston Makhib, Daria Mazur, Polina Milushkova, Ekaterina Shibayeva, Lubov Tolkalina
Dubbing actors: Renara Shamsiyeva, Patrick Sewell
Research: Vusal Ahmedov, Ulviya Akhundova, Farah Alakbarli, Sanan Baghirov, Kristina Cherniavskaia, Sayara Huseyinli, Asya Sokolova, Arina Umanskaia
Photo Pat Verbruggen
Special thanks to Baku National Circus director Vagif Baghir-Zada, circus historian Radjab Mamedov, National Archives of the Republic of Azerbaijan director Asger Rasulov, National Archives of Photo and Video Documents of the Republic of Azerbaijan director Vugar Taptygly, gymnast Tamila Nazirova, clown Lada Sanatskaya, animal trainers Tofik Akhundov and Rauf Rasulov, director of circus shows and concerts Vladimir Vavilov, archivist Aida Babazade, poet Leyli Salayeva.
Commissioned by YARAT Contemporary Art Space