Rauf Mamedov

MamedovDirected several films in collaboration with Evgeni Ginzburg, including Island of Dead Ships (1987) and Girl from Rouen Nicknamed Doughnut (1989), both of which won a Silver Rose at the International Film Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. Has had solo exhibitions in Moscow, Amsterdam and Jerusalem and participated in international exhibitions.

Rauf Mamedov is the artist of a single work, telling the same story time and again. Most of his photographs draw their subjects from the Bible. The artist moves familiar stories to minimalist surroundings and populates them with models who have Down syndome, adding new semantic layers that could not be attained with ordinary models. Mamedov’s subjects are “idiots” in the original meaning of this Greek word; they are simpletons, people with an unclouded consciousness. Their presence in the picture frame intensifies the viewers’ impression that the story before them is sacred. They are God’s fools, destined to act as messengers of God and conduits of divine will. Mamedov’s scenes are built so precisely that each alludes to all of art history at once: the faces of his models refer to their predecessors in Bosch and Goya, and his lapidary composition suggests scriptural subjects in classical European art. Supper at Emmaus is perhaps the most felicitous subject for Mamedov’s kind of production. In it, awestruck apostles recognize that their fellow traveler is in fact Savior. In Mamedov’s work, mental disability becomes a feature that unites all of humanity: before the Supreme Being we are all helpless, frightened fools. Mamedov’s is not a shameful kind of foolery, but rather an escape route to the irrational and the sacred. His actors, poor in spirit, are heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven, and they invite the viewer there.
Anna Matveeva

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