For Ebecho Muslimova’s first solo museum exhibition, the artist presents Scenes in the Sublevel, a site-specific installation that includes ten large-scale mixed-media drawings. Muslimova (b. 1984, Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia) is known for her pen-and-ink drawings and large-scale paintings that feature her bold and uninhibited cartoon alter ego, Fatebe. Her latest body of work uses The Drawing Center’s downstairs gallery as the stage for Fatebe’s intrepid misadventures.
In each of Scenes in the Sublevel’s eight-by-four-foot drawing panels (five are connected as a diptych and triptych), the viewer encounters the architecture of the space opposite the panel rendered as a line drawing, as if, in regarding the panel, one is looking into a mirror. Executed over each linear view are inventive scenes that incorporate references drawn from Muslimova’s imagination and from popular culture. In one scene, Fatebe hangs clumsily upside-down from a beaded curtain; in another, she is mesmerized by the reflection of her own nude body and exposed genitalia while she splashes in a puddle of viscous liquid; and in yet another, Fatebe is rendered on all fours and with a high ponytail, her silhouette superimposed on a hyper-realistic painting of a mare enveloped in a cloud of dust as the animal gallops away from the viewer. With exuberant joy, Fatebe contorts and stretches her fantastically pliable body as she finds herself in situations both comedic and compromising. For Muslimova, Fatebe’s unabashed occupation of physical space and overt confidence in her body and its many functions is a kind of language for her self-expression and personal agency.
With her unflinching wide-eyed gaze and a mischievous smile, Muslimova’s subversive protagonist activates each scene with her endlessly expandable body as she encounters new objects and circumstances. The artist renders Fatebe’s experience of physical and mental space in a way that both demonstrates and counters her own self-consciousness and anxieties. Taken as a whole, the installation explores the relationship between memory and narrative, the conscious and subconscious. Most importantly, in Muslimova’s drawn world, Fatebe’s sense of adventure and self-exploration is never exhausted; she remains fearless and ready for her next misstep.
Organized by Rosario Güiraldes, Assistant Curator.