Artists pay tribute to 9th-century Central Asian inventor of the algorithm

Artists pay tribute to 9th-century Central Asian inventor of the algorithm
Soviet-era stamps of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwārizmī, to be transformed into silks by Navine G.Khan Dossos in collaboration with Uzbekistani craftsmen

7 October 2021

Seven artists are paying homage to 9th-century Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwārizmī, father of the algorithm, at a new show at the Center for Contemporary Art Tashkent (CCAT).

Bringing together both Uzbek and international conceptual and visual artists, whose work spans craft, performance, film, music, architecture, design, and critical theory, Dixit Algorizmi promotes a more inclusive discourse on the technological advances that dominate our world, celebrating non-Western sources of innovation.

Al-Khwārizmī was born in Khwarazm, a region that is now part of modern-day Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The exhibition is centered on al-Khwārizmī’s book Kitab al-Jabr wa-al-muqabala (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing), written in 820 CE, whose Latin translation gave rise to the word “algorithm”.

“The algorithm shapes all the possible interactions in modern culture through apps on our smartphones,” says curator Joseph Grima.We know the word, but we don’t understand it. Through the multi-sensory and illustrative exhibition, we are retracing its origin and the great impact it has had on societies and cultures, from ancient to modern times.”

Artists Charli Tapp, Elisa Giardina Papa, James Bridle, Navine G.Khan Dossos, Neil Beloufa, Saodat Ismailova, and Space Caviar all worked with local craftsmen to create works exploring al-Khwārizmī’s biography, and the relationship between everyday life and the history of science and technology.

The highlights include work by artist Khan-Dossos, who collaborated with Ikat weavers in the Margilan area of eastern Uzbekistan to create onion and pomegranate painted silks that replicated the Soviet-era postage stamps that once depicted Al-Khwarizmi. They also incorporated the mathematician’s algebraic diagrams into an Ikat pattern.

The show is running at the Center for Contemporary Art Tashkent (CCAT) until 15 November. Find out more here.

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