Taus Makhacheva at Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
A solitary tightrope walker carefully conveys framed artworks between two rocky outcrops in the Caucasus Mountains. In a scenic and spellbinding video presentation, Moscow-born contemporary artist Taus Makhacheva speaks to the vulnerability of art, and why it must be preserved. Her work also addresses the complicated history of the Republic of Dagestan — a nation undergoing drastic political and cultural change — and the ancient Dagestani tradition of tightrope walking. Partially inspired by the sudden and unexpected move of the Dagestan Museum of Art’s collection, Tightrope depicts the precarious state of the nation’s main cultural institution as a keeper of artistic memory. As the tightrope walker moves purposefully between the highland peaks, transporting artworks to a place of relative safety, Makhacheva’s poetic visual advocacy combines contemporary art, local tradition and art history in an intermingled past and future. It’s a risky and delicate balancing act. Tightrope (2015) is on view until 3 February, 2019.