David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by New York-based artist Ebecho Muslimova, Fatebe Digest, at the gallery’s London location. This will be the artist’s first solo presentation in the United Kingdom.
This selection of new work will feature Muslimova’s character Fatebe, a plump and exuberant personality who subsumes the neuroses and anxieties of her creator. Fatebe was first conceived during the artist's days as an undergraduate at Cooper Union in New York. Muslimova’s surrogate shamelessly manipulates her naked body into unimaginable contortions and is found in slapstick and at times abject situations. Set in fantastical painted landscapes or rendered solo in flowing brushwork, Fatebe explodes the social expectations of the female body through brazen displays of sexuality, vulnerability, and humour. As the artist observes, ‘This performance, this slippage through the challenges I constantly make for [Fatebe], is what interests me and pushes the search for new scenarios.’1
In Muslimova’s recent drawings, Fatebe continues to cavort through various scenes with loose-limbed self-possession. Referencing Piero Manzoni’s Merda d’artista (Artist’s Shit) (1961), FATEBE 60°anniversario (2021) shows her commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of the controversial work by the Italian conceptualist—in a celebratory but scatological display. Appearing, in Muslimova’s words, as the ‘representative of any mental drama [she is] experiencing’, the character splits into interior and exterior selves in FATEBE BURNT (2021)—impish and fatigued—and FATEBE INNER PEACE (2021)—petulant and peaceful.2 Splaying her legs wide open, she relieves herself while perched on a fluted pedestal. Muslimova inserts Fatebe into the domestic sphere: She hangs enthusiastically from her backside on a coat rack. Her body is neatly divided by USM modular furniture. In these depictions, Fatebe both is and is more than the expression of a joke. As the artist, Mitchell Anderson writes, ‘the varied executions, placement, and scale are also central to a total project that reflects on the ridiculousness of life and art and the ways in which one manages to physically and emotionally survive.’3
Muslimova has created two paintings on canvas of Fatebe for Fatebe Digest. Having introduced her in this medium four years ago to incorporate colour and texture into the character’s world, Muslimova further expands Fatebe’s universe to literally occupy the surrounding built environment. In The Upper Room, Muslimova will create a site-specific rendering of her surrogate in a presentation similar to recent inclusions in the 2021 Belgrade Biennale and the 2021 group exhibition Smashing into My Heart at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.
Photo: FATEBE LEAKING VESSELS, 2021© Ebecho Muslimova. Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Maria Bernheim, Zürich, Magenta Plains, NY, and David Zwirner