A presentation of Mahmud Rustamov's project "Alternative", organized by the YARAT! nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art of Azerbaijan was held near the Maiden Tower in Baku on Friday.
Famous artists and public figures attended the event organized during 012 Baku Public Art Festival.
This sculpture consists of two plastic objects made of bronze. One part represents the mixture of two bodies: the chicken and the rhinoceros with a pomegranate on its horn. The second part represents the figure of a humanoid with a windmill in its hands.
Judging by the surrealistic style of this composition, the sculpture has a deep symbolic meaning that has something to do with the city of Baku and with the Maiden Tower. Both the animalistic part-chicken part-rhinoceros figure might have the following meaning.
Being one of the most widespread food products in the whole world, the chicken appears here as a symbol of openness, universality and internationality. The artist corresponds this symbol with the universality and openness of the city of Baku that is well-known for its cosmopolitan population. Rushing headlong ahead figure of the rhinoceros might also be associated with the city of Baku that is rapidly developing and turning into the metropolitan city with its complicated infrastructure.
But despite the targeting towards future that is inseparably associated with technological progress, according to the artist the city has to preserve its cultural identity and national specifics. The pomegranate has long ago been considered as one of the symbols of the Azerbaijanian culture with its spiritual roots and genetic bonds with the Earth...
So the animalistic figure symbolizes Baku and the dynamics of its development. It is worth noting the horizontal nature of this composition because we are speaking of the development in terms of socio-cultural reality. And what does the second sculpture has to tell us with its representation of a half-human creature?
The point is that this figure represents an alien! Unlike the chicken-rhinoceros figure this one stands vertically and is being associated with the Vertical that binds the Earth and the Sky. This is a very important aspect of this project.
Bearing in mind the location of the composition (it is installed near the Maiden Tower that according to some legends and rumors is somehow connected to the space because its architectonics contains numerous cosmic and extraterrestrial mysteries. So the humanoid figure might symbolize the alien nature of the Maiden Tower and Baku itself. It might sound unbelievable but according to the logics of artistic conception such theory has all rights to exist.
It is also important that the alien figure has a windmill in its hands that will spin as long as Baku will be called the City of the Winds.
- The exact date of the construction of the Maiden Tower is unknown. It was assumed that the tower was built around XII century. This assertion was made from a stone slab, situated on the outer wall of the upper part of the tower, with writings on it that date to this period. The writing in archaic Kufic script, engraved on the slab, reads: "The Gubbe (dome) of Masudibn Davud". It tells us the name of the constructor - Masud, the son of Davud. We now know the tower was actually built in two phases.
The first one presumably took place in pre-lslamic times, while the writing dates back to a later period. Having examined the lime-stone mortar and the color of stone, out of which the tower was built, the scientists came to conclusion that it was built prior to the I century (the most ancient construction in Azerbaijan, built with the application of such mortar, was found in Qabala and dates back to the same period), but not later than X century A.D. because other stones that were used are similar to those of Muhammad Mosque that dates back to this period.
Founded in 2011 by Aida Mahmudova, YARAT! is a non-commercial, private organisation dedicated to the promotion and nurturing of Azeri Contemporary art nationally and internationally.