Eluding Capture

An exhibition at MASS MoCA, curated by Jess Chen, MA Class of 2024

Eluding Capture features the work of Saodat Ismailova, Alexander Ugay, and Gulnur Mukazhanova, three artists who explore the conditions of belonging in Central Asia through photography, textile, film, and video. Typically defined as modern-day Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, Central Asia has been ruled by Indigenous Khanates, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union at different points in time. The region’s rich philosophical, literary, and artistic traditions provide the basis for contemporary interventions that attend to its history and speculate on its future.

Together, the artists in this exhibition interrogate what it means to dwell in and on the region. Their works seek pictorial, material, and metaphysical agency from colonial legacies, a search for self-definition that acknowledges the incoherency of the past. Refusing narrative and didactic closure, the artists in Eluding Capture unsettle distinctions between past and present to propose a similarly fluid poetics of belonging across the region.

Eluding Capture: Three Artists From Central Asia opened on February 3, 2024, and is made possible by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in support of MASS MoCA and the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, with special thanks to the Williams College Department of German and Russian and the Williams College Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Additional support has been provided by the Amherst Center for Russian Culture.

Featured image: Alexander Ugay, Obscuraton #10 (2022), installation with photographs and camera obscura (gelatin silver prints, plywood, inkjet prints).