az square


at the 60th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia

From Caspian To Pink Planet: I Am Here
with works by Vusala Agharaziyeva, Rashad Alakbarov and Irina Eldarova
curated by Luca Beatrice and Amina Melikova

20 April - 24 November 2024
Arsenale, Campo della Tana, Castello 2126/A - 30122 Venice
Preview: from Wednesday, 17 April to Friday 19 April 2024
Official inauguration: Thursday, 18 April 2024

On the occasion of its participation in the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, this year the Republic of Azerbaijan presents the national pavilion From Caspian to Pink Planet: I Am Here, realized by Heydar Aliyev Foundation and open to the public from 20 April to 24 November 2024 at the exhibition venue Castello 2126/A, near the Arsenale.

The exhibition, curated by Luca Beatrice and Amina Melikova, draws inspiration from the theme proposed by Curator of the 60th International Art Exhibition Adriano Pedrosa to explore the various meanings of the expression “Foreigners anywhere”, expressed through the interpretations of the three artists selected by Rashad Aslanov, Pavilion commissioner: Vusala Agharaziyeva (Baku, 1990), Rashad Alakbarov (Baku, 1979) and Irina Eldarova (Moscow, 1955).

Luca Beatrice, co-curator of the Pavilion, explains: “You just need to make a quick visit to Baku to understand the cultural and artistic effervescence of this ancient country, where contemporary architecture is in a dialogue with history, where technology and industry move forward with speed and art becomes the most faithful mirror of this attitude projected towards the future”.

The exhibition project, designed by Venetian studio OSTUDIO, provides a contemporary portrait of the fervour of Azerbaijanian artistic production through an exhibition itinerary investigating the themes of identity, origin and migration as pillars supporting the contemporary cultural debate.

From Ranging between works on canvas and site-specific installations, From Caspian to Pink Planet: I Am Here opens up a meaningful overview of the Azeri local artistic horizons, told through the various creative expressions of three key different voices.

Amina Melikova, co-curator of the Pavilion, explains: “The three presented artists belong to various generations and apply different expressive means and techniques. Nevertheless, in one way or another, the selected works touch the situations that interweave reality and fantasy, in which individuals overcome alienation and achieve a sense of belonging within the space”.

Fitting within the approach outlined by the curators, the artists selected for the occasion have conceived and created a selection of works designed to invite the public to immerse themselves in one of the most urgent cultural and social issues of our time.

Vusala Agharaziyeva, born in 1990 in Baku, draws inspiration from her own life experiences, featured by the move from a big city to a village, to explore the theme of alienation, at the heart of a cultural reflection involving the history of Azerbaijan. In the painting entitled Pink Planet (2023-2024), the journeys and moves that have characterized the artist’s own biography become the ideal vehicle for the transmission of a common feeling. The constant sensation of being foreigners within their own existence reverberates in the subject of her work, captured in the act of disembarking on alienating extraterrestrial landscapes defined by a distinctive pink tone.

Rashad Alakbarov, born in 1979 in Baku, explores the concept of place of birth and the ways in which this factor comes to influence multiple aspects of our existence and identity. His works often evoke architectural elements such as doors, windows, mirrors and walls as metaphors for the individual, placing the accent on the bond between people and the places they have inhabited. The installation I Am Here (2024) sees a selection of high walls design a labyrinth that, if observed from a different perspective, articulates the title of the work. Each letter of the phrase “I Am Here”, composes a forceful statement of existence, indicating that an exit route is possible if only you are prepared to change your point of view.

Irina Eldarova, born in Moscow in 1955, draws from her own personal story with the series of paintings Girls Prefer Oilmen (2013-2023). Having grown up in Russia and long attracted by the dialogue between different cultures and traditions, the artist identifies her move to Azerbaijan as a crucial moment in her existence. The idea of the geographical space as a place of exchange and merger between people emerges strongly in the artistic practice of Eldarova, who through a series of paintings tells the imaginary love story between an idealised image of a worker in the oilfields of the Caspian Sea in 1950-ies and Marilyn Monroe as an embodiment of American dream of the period , . The artist’s story places the spotlight on the importance of welcoming the other with curiosity and respect, within a universal perspective of mutual understanding and love.


Vusala Agharaziyeva (Baku, 1990) gained a diploma in Decorative Arts at the Azerbaijan Academy of Fine Arts in 2014. A member of the Azerbaijan Artists’ Union , in 2018 she  co-founded the YARADAN Project the public organization dedicated to supporting and promoting creativity. In 2023 she founded the DAMIR House of Imagination cultural centre in Ivanovka, Azerbaijan. Her work has been included in solo and group exhibitions, including Gurama, Photo House, Baku; 1918, Gazelli Art House, Baku; Traditional Arts Evolution, MIM – Center of Modern Art, Baku; Take Me Home, National History Museum, Baku; Muhit, YARAT, Baku.

Rashad Alakbarov (Baku, 1979) gained a diploma in Decorative Arts at the Azerbaijan Academy of Fine Arts in 2001. Including painting, sculpture, set design, video and design, his practice investigates topics associated with the Eastern world and social issues. His work has been exhibited in important institutions, including: MOMA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Baku; Delfina Foundation, London; Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku; MAXXI – National Museum of the Arts of the 21st Century, Rome; MOCAK – Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow; Phillips de Pury & Company, London.

Irina Eldarova (Moscow, 1955) attended the Ilya Repin Academy of Fine Arts, Sculpture and Architecture in St. Petersburg from 1975 to 1979 and the Surikov Academy in Moscow from 1980 to 1982, where she studied under Boris Dehterev. Alongside painting, Eldarova has developed significant publishing projects in Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Her solo and group exhibitions include: Make Yourself an Island, Museum of Azerbaijan Painting – Center for Contemporary Art, Baku, Man as a Brand, MOMA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Baku: Girls Prefer Oilmen, Academy of Arts of the Russian Federation, Moscow; Fly to Baku, MAXXI – National Museum of the Arts of the 21st century; Velvet Confessions, Triumph Gallery, Moscow.


Luca Beatrice was born in 1961 in Turin, where he lives. A graduate in History of Cinema at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Turin, he is a curator and contemporary art critic. He has written in the art magazines Tema Celeste, Arte and Flash Art. He has been appointed curator of the Biennial Exhibition in Prague (2003 - 2005) and commissioner for the Preview section of the 14th Quadriennale in Rome (2004). In 2009 he was chosen as curator of the Italy Pavilion at the 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. From 2010 to 2018 he was president of the Circolo dei Lettori in Turin. He is a member of the Board of Evaluation for the School of Cultural Heritage and Activities. On 7 February 2024 he was named President of the Quadriennale in Rome. Among the most recent events organized by him: the anthological exhibitions on Andy Warhol in the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa (2016) and on Edward Hopper in Palazzo Fava, Bologna and Vittoriano, Rome (2015-2016), the group exhibitions Jackson Pollock and the School of New York, Palazzo Reale, Milano e Vittoriano, Rome 2018, Easy Rider. The Myth of the Motorcycle as Art, Reggia di Venaria 2018, Warhol and Friends, Palazzo Albergati, Bologna 2018, Diabolik alla Mole, Museum of Cinema, Turin 2021, Carlo Levi, GAM Turin 2022, Giacomo Soffiantino, Fondazione Ferrero, Alba 2022, Alberto Moravia and Art Criticism, GAM, Turin March 2023, and Marco Tamburro, MAXXI, Rome 2023. For Gallerie d’ Italia. Intesa Sanpaolo he curated the exhibitions devoted to New York, London, Berlin and Los Angeles at Palazzo Zevallos in Naples and the review Futuro at Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Vicenza (2020). He has published numerous essays of art and music criticism: Da che arte stai? Pop, Sex e Nati sotto il Biscione for Rizzoli; the biographies of Renato Zero and Lucio Dalla for Baldini & Castoldi, Canzoni d’amore for Mondadori, and Arte e libertà? for Giubilei Regnani. In February 2021 the essay Da che arte stai? Dieci lezioni sul contemporaneo was published by Rizzoli and in September 2023 Le vite. Racconto provinciale dell’arte italiana was published by Marsilio.

Amina Melikova is director of the Department of Exhibitions and Events of the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku. She gained her postgraduate degree at the University of Baku and has over twenty years’ experience in the museum sector. She was head of the Department of Development and International Relations of the Museum Centre of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan from 1999 to 2009; she was director of international relations of the National Museum of Art of Baku from 2009 to 2018; she directed the Icherisheher History Museum of Baku from 2018 to 2023. Her awards received include the title of Honoured Culture Worker of Azerbaijan (2017) and she has been a member of the Azerbaijan Artists' Union since 2011. The publications edited by her include Gurama, Art of Patchwork in 2022, Kelagayi Art in 2018, Shirvanshahs' Heritage in the World Museums in 2018, Oil and Art in 2013, Azerbaijan Oil in 2010 and Nobels and Baku Oil in 2009.



Ambassador Rashad Aslanov


Vusala Agharaziyeva

Rashad Alakbarov

Irina Eldarova


Luca Beatrice

Amina Melikova

Curators’ assistants

Giorgia Achilarre

Jabir Mammadli


Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Baku, Azerbaijan


Paolo De Grandis

Carlotta Scarpa

PDG Arte Communications

Architectural design

OSTUDIO, Venezia

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