Opening on 1st December 2023, the Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art in Tbilisi presents No Man’s Sky: Braiding Sweetgrass, the first major survey exhibition of large-scale immersive installations and sculptural works by the emerging Azerbaijani environmental technologist and mixed media artist, Elnara Nasirli.
Nasirli’s atmospheric installations, steeped in psychological depth, are curated to dramatically transform the spaces of the museum. The inter-disciplinary nature of the display includes towering sculptural works and novel site-specific installations. These pieces harmoniously merge Nasirli’s expertise in biotechnology with the transformative essence of therapeutic art expression. The intertwined narratives highlight the profound bond between Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The title “No Man’s Sky” questions societal limits and geopolitical confines, highlighting the immense depths of human consciousness and our shared journey towards healing. Furthermore, her creations draw inspiration from the grounded insights present in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s influential piece, “Braiding Sweetgrass”.
Elnara Nasirli says, “My large canvas series represent skins I’ve shed to capture the fleeting moments of my constantly changing physical and emotional states. The determination in my artistic practice can be compared to the tenacity of a flower that defies the odds, managing to grow and bloom even through the toughest of obstacles, such as stone. This metaphor symbolizes not only my ability to overcome personal challenges and adversity but also the potential for others to do the same, allowing creativity and spirit to flourish despite hardships encountered.”
Farah Piriye, the exhibition’s curator, states: “Within Elnara Nasirli’s oeuvre, we navigate through therapeutic art, biotechnology, and personal resilience-landmarks marking her journey from environmental technologist to accomplished artist. At the heart of “No Man’s Sky: Braiding Sweetgrass” lies an open invitation. It guides visitors towards self-discovery and creative growth, underscoring our joint commitment to both the nature and one another. In this space, highlighting the legacy of the Caucasus, Nasirli’s research- driven installations and expansive canvases offer a playful yet provocative exploration of societal constraints. These artistic endeavours engulf viewers, drawing them into a singular and complex mind, all while serving as a reminder that consciousness is fundamentally a biological process.”
Visitors can expect a curated selection: five multi-sensory installations, commissioned and realized in 2023, seamlessly juxtaposed with several Nasirli’s earlier masterpieces. Enhancing this experience is an evocative soundscape, reminiscent of a cinematic score, deepening the audience’s immersion into the artist’s universe.
Nasirli’s works, crafted from unconventional and organic materials sourced from the streets of Baku, eclectic flea markets, and online auctions, radiate a dedication to therapeutic art expression, environmental mindfulness, and personal stories, culminating in this soulful opus.
About Elnara Nasirli:
Elnara Nasirli, an innovative Azerbaijani artist, holds a BA in Politics and French from Queen Mary University and an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College.
With this strong academic foundation and a background in biotechnology, she masterfully intertwines the realms of therapeutic art expression and environmental technology in her transformative practice. Deeply anchored in her personal journey of physical pain, her diverse portfolio, spanning from bio-art to paintings and from sculptures to soundscapes, is both a testament to her resilience and a reflection of her commitment to therapeutic art and ecological consciousness. Through her use of unique materials, especially the emblematic tondi symbolizing life’s cyclical journey, Elnara crafts an immersive experience for viewers, prompting introspection and fostering a profound dialogue that aims to transform both her own and the viewers’ neural connections, exploring the potency of overcoming adversity and internal reflections. Rapidly emerging as a force to be reckoned with in Baku’s art scene, her studio has swiftly become a haven for art enthusiasts. Elnara’s enigmatic, playful, and spirited approach to art has made a lasting impression, ensuring her ascending trajectory on the global stage. In the ever-evolving realm of contemporary art, Elnara stands as a beacon, reshaping perceptions and defying conventions.
About MOMA, Tbilisi:
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in Tbilisi, established in 2012 at the iconic location of 27 Rustaveli Ave., stands as a beacon of contemporary creativity. Housed within a historic building, once the esteemed Tbilisi Cadet Corps, it has seen various transformations over the years. In 2005, Zurab Tsereteli, a renowned artist took the initiative to restore and transform the mansion into a world-class museum space. This synthesis of history with modern times, executed brilliantly by architect Givi Metreveli, showcases the innovative architectural possibilities that merge European traditions with contemporary design.
The museum, spanning three floors, not only boasts of Zurab Tsereteli’s monumental compositions, but also allots dedicated space for showcasing modern Georgian art and international collaborations. MOMA Tbilisi serves as an embodiment of artistic evolution, connecting the rich histories of Georgian artistry with the expansive world of international modern art.
About Farah Piriye:
Farah Piriye is an internationally acclaimed research based art curator known for her indepth exploration of transnational dialogues within her curatorial practice. Passionate about collaborations, she has worked extensively with distinguished international artists, deepening the discourse around the intersections of history, migration, memory, and identity, and their role in shaping contemporary realities.
Farah co-founded ZEITGEIST19, a podcast and research space uniquely situated at the convergence of art and sustainability.
Her vision has culminated in exhibitions at esteemed venues such as the United Nations office in Geneva, ART Dubai, Saatchi Gallery, Royal Academy of Art, Sotheby’s London, Gazelli Art House London, YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Sixty Six London, Opera London, Alon Zakaim Fine Art, Louise Blouin Foundation, and Asia House London, among others.