72 Virgins in Kaliningrad, (part two #2)

Video, PAL, 16:01 min, color, sound

It is a common tradition in Russia and Asia for the bride and groom to take wedding photographs in scenic places. In Kaliningrad wedding parties usually come to Kant's tomb to lay flowers and drink champagne. The performance of Shahram Entekhabi focuses on this phenomenon. Assuming the role of a martyr, the artist visits Kant's tomb with 72 "virgins", who he will select with his fake parents, to accompany him in paradise as was promised to martyrs in some interpretations of Islamic teachings. The women, of all shapes and sizes, are dressed in black dresses, each with a white flower in hand. Besides evoking the idea of the black widow as the fanatical Muslim female martyr, the black dress refers to the colour of grief, common in European cultures. It also hints at the fact that the marriage in paradise is only possible after the death of the martyr as well as the death of the "virgins".

Similar to Shahram Entekhabi’s previous projects, the "72 Virgins" photograph and performance-video project features the artist Shahram Entekhabi deconstructing the stereotype of "The Other", migrant foreigners and those on the periphery of society. In doing so, "72 Virgins" highlights the clichés about Muslims by casting a critical view to notions of masculinity. It also questions the ideals and realities of roles and promises as (mis)interpreted and instrumentalized by ideology, religious discourse and society to rally and recruit people for political gain. Indeed, circles within contemporary Islamic debate claim that this practice has no authenticity and is constantly contended. The project also engages in a critical, albeit humorous, view of rites of passage like marriage which usually takes place between birth and death. However for martyrs, their marriage (to 72 virgins) takes place after death.

The project is produced in cooperation with the ncca (Kaliningrad Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts) 

Curators: Elena Tsvetaeva, Yulia Bardun
Coordination: Anastasiya Karpenko
Video:  Shahram Entekhabi, Danil Akimov, Yulia Bardun, Oleg Blyablyas, Yury Shvetsov  Photography: Alexander Lyubin, Egor Sachko, Olga Kharina
Translation: Yulia Bardun, Ekaterina Shamova

We are grateful for the support to Valentina Vasilyevna and Kronid Vassilievitch Ryabkov, Tatiana Souvorova – director of the Kaliningrad Museum of Amber, Galina Zabolotskaya – director of  the Kaliningrad Regional Art Gallery, Dmitry Bulatov, Irina Pokrant, Irina Tchesnokova, Ekaterina Shamova – staff members of the KB NCCA, as well as Natalia Andreeva, Lyudmila Pavlenko, Victoria Saakova, Alexandra Toropova, Zinaida Shershun and all those people without whom the project would be impossible.   

Special thanks to 72 participants – beautiful inhabitants of Kaliningrad. 

72 performers:
Zinaida Shershun, Alexandra Trifonova, Angelina Bychina, Svetlana Podnebesnaya, Svetlana Sedova, Irina Chesnokova, Yulia Bardoun, Ekaterina Shamova, Anastasia Karpenko, Elena Tsvetaeva, Inna Nikonova, Maria Mankevich, Oksana Boytsova, Elena Boytsova, Maria Zhirova, Galina Kuzmich, Vera Kazakova, Olga Goryacheva, Ksenia Timofeyeva, Vladislava Shamsulina, Yana Baldina, Varvara Muntyan, Elena Lipchanskaya, Natalia Shabanina, Ilona Tarasova, Nina Makarova, Anastasia Pozlyak, Karina Gurina, Zhanna MalyginaElena Gromova, Sun Hao, Polina Gagarina, Valeria Voynova, Olga Kurochkina, Lada Dudorova, Karina Pavlovskaya, Elizaveta Barsukova, Liza Kaysarova, Irina Solovieva, Alexandra Toropova, Viktoria Vasilieva, Darina Bagan, Alla Firyusheva, Ekaterina Gladkaya, Viktoria Dyvulskaya, Evgenia Chugreyeva, Alexandra Yuricyna, Lidia Lobanova, Yulia Astakhova, Svetlana Kirsanova, Ekaterina Sokur, Inna Kocheryan, Olga Abramova, Ekaterina Karpenko, Elena Matskevichene, Olga Kharina, Daria Malysheva, Ekaterina Novitskaya, Kristina Dannikova, Anastasia Zaguzina, Daria Egorova, Elena Basharimova, Ne Hajim, Elena Antonovich, Alexandra Leonenko, Svetlana Zatsepilina, Alina Kozlova, Olga Fedorova, Elena Udaltsova, Iena Braynina, Albina Neminuschaya, Yana Kutovaya


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