Chillahona (2022)

Saodat Ismailova

3-channel video and embroidery with video projection
3 55-inch screens, 400 x 300 cm (embroidery)
36 minutes 51 seconds
Credit: Tomoko Sauvage (music) Supported by Sharjah Art Foundation
Courtesy of the artist and Tselinny Center for Contemporary Culture, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Her Right
15 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

32 minutes
Credit: Carlos Casas (photography)
Courtesy of the artist


Saodat Ismailova is a filmmaker and artist whose upbringing in post- Soviet Uzbekistan and engagement with the region continue to drive her practice. Ismailova’s filmography addresses themes of national memory, women’s sovereignty, ritualism and mortality. In the three- channel video, Chillahona (2022), Tashkent’s underground spiritual quarantine cells host the exorcism of a middle-aged protagonist’s traumatic memories from her coming-of-age during the Perestroika period. Displayed alongside is Falak, a traditional silk embroidery piece depicting female cosmology, through which the artist projects light in parallel to the film’s narrative of salvation and metamorphosis.
Her Right (2020) foregrounds a pivotal moment in the nation’s history—the Soviet unveiling campaign of 1928—and pays tribute to the countermovement’s countless sacrifices in the name of true autonomy and self-determination.
The film Zukhra (2013) portrays a woman caught between dream and death. In her final moments, viewers are swept into a deluge of memories that span the intimate and the collective, interweaving her life and Uzbekistan’s last century. The film touches on issues of border delamination and women’s emancipation, while also evoking the country’s traditions of sacred female spirituality.