Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 04 Image 05 Image 06 Image 07 Image 08

new issue

In this 5th issue, Field Essays brings together Uzbek artist and filmmaker Saodat Ismailova with decolonial thinker Rolando Vázquez. While Ismailova came of age in the post-Sovjet era of Central Asia, Vázquez carries within him the open questions of Abya Yala (Latin America). The book sets out on a journey to find out what these differing cultures can learn from each other in terms of mourning and healing the triple colonial wound of timelessness, earthlessness and worldlessness (Vázquez: 2018). Can a book be a gesture of offering rather than a space of enunciation? Can it be a space of listening that can reconfigure inherited Western modes of thinking and working and create a space of “coming to voice” for silenced histories and life lines?

The name given to this book and journey is “Q. Meanderings in worlds of mourning”. Q stands for the Uzbek word qyrq, the number 40, which inhabits different layers of Uzbek culture: it is present in the Forty and One spirits (Qyrqbir Pari); in the Forty Diseases; in the Calendar of Chilla with the 40 hottest and coldest days; and in the Room of Forty (Qyrq Khona), the space used for a silence retreat during transition moments in life (death, birth, mariage).

Paniers Poissons
Notes and books used for the The New Alphabet School #Healing podcast.

Listen to a conversation between Uzbek filmmaker Saodat Ismailova and Mexican decolonial scholar Rolando Vázquez, and relational artist/editor Sophie Krier, published in June 2021 in the context of Faju/Healing — a session convened in Dakar and online by Maya V. El Zanaty, Alessandra Pomarico, Yayra Sumah and Esther Poppe as part of The New Alphabet School, a program of Berlin's Haus der Kultur der Welt (HKW).

Saodat Ismailova lives and works between Tashkent and Paris, and belongs to a generation of artists from Central Asia who came of age in the post-Soviet era. Her body of work (films, film cahiers, installations, but also a series of collages using archival photographs and handwritten letters) summons the fabric of which the soul of Central Asian peoples is woven from — by lending a voice to dreams, myths, legends, and rituals. Her work circles around practices of mourning and ancestrality by foregrounding matriarchal narratives (Zukhra 2013, Chilla & Gulaim 2014, Chillpiq & Qyrq Qyz 2018), and stories telling the loss of worlds (Stains of Oxus 2016, The Haunted 2017, Immortal Letters 2019). Ismailova’s debut Zukhra was featured as an installation at the Central Asian Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Her film Chilla (40 Days of Silence) was nominated for best debut film at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival. In 2016, Ismailova was a resident at Le Fresnoy in France. Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls) premiered at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in 2018, and was produced by the Aga Khan Music Program.

Saodat Ismailova
Saodat Ismailova

Qyrq Qyz (40 Girls) (88", HD, one screen video with live music performance),
Saodat Ismailova, 2018: Agha Khan Music Initiative. Music by Dmitri Yanov Yanovsky

Rolando Vázquez is a teacher and decolonial thinker. He is regularly invited to deliver keynotes on decoloniality at academic and cultural institutions. Vázquez is currently Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Utrecht. Since 2010, together with Walter Mignolo the annual María Lugones Decolonial Summer School, now hosted by the Van Abbemuseum. In 2016, under the direction of Gloria Wekker, he co-authored the report "Let’s do Diversity" of the University of Amsterdam Diversity Commission. Vázquez's work places the question of the possibility of an ethical life at the core of decolonial thought and advocates for the decolonial transformation of cultural and educational institutions. His most recent publication is Vistas of Modernity: Decolonial aesthesis and the End of the Contemporary (Mondriaan Fund 2020).

  • VÁZQUEZ Rolando. “Towards a Decolonial Critique of Modernity Buen Vivir, Relationality and the Task of Listening”, in Raúl Fornet-Betancourt (ed.) Capital, Poverty, Development, Denktraditionen im Dialog Vol 33, Wissenschaftsverlag Mainz: Aachen, 2012, pp 241-252.

  • VÁZQUEZ Rolando.Vistas of Modernity. Decolonial Aesthesis and the end of the contemporary, Amsterdam: Mondriaan Fonds, 2020.

  • Rolando Vázquez
    Rolando Vázquez. Photo Ivar Pel/University Utrecht, 2021.


    Field Essays issue five

    Q. Meanderings in worlds of mourning
    Saodat Ismailova


    past issues

    Field Essays issue three

    Eloj Kréyol

    Field Essays issue two

    Things that Happened
    Brynjar Sigurðarson

    Field Essays issue one

    Every Object Contains an Image
    Jonathan Muecke, Bas Princen 

    sold out

    Field Essays issue zero

    Embodied Pick of Sticks
    LucyandBart, Marek Pokropski 




    Anagram books
    (United Kingdom, Ireland and France)

    (Spain and Portugal)

    Ram Publications
    (North America)

    Permimeter Distribution
    (Australia and New Zealand)


    Field Essays (2008—ongoing) is a series of books approached as a listening pause between thinkers/practitioners from all walks of life and academia; a pocket size conversation on radical practices in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Field Essays manifests itself through book-related encounters (exhibitions, workshops, podcasts, round tables, field trips). Moving back forth between reflection and fieldwork, Field Essays is an attempt at weaving an embodied and situated vocabulary of art-based making.

    Field Essays is led by Atelier Sophie Krier and channelled through public gallery and publisher Onomatopee Projects.


    Field Essays: Q. Meanderings in worlds of mourning
    Onomatopee 55.4
    English, Spanish, and Uzbek
    Initiative and editing: Sophie Krier
    Co-authors: Saodat Ismailova, Rolando Vázquez
    Copy editing: Oliver Barstow (EN)
    Translations: Laura Judith Alegre (ES), Ziyodakhon Gulomova (UZB)
    Graphic design: Inedition
    Edition: 1000

    this issue is supported by

    Onomatopee logo

    Stroom logo

    Mondriaan Fonds logo

    this issue came about in partnership with

    CCA logo

    HKW logo


    Atelier Sophie Krier
    Van der Duynstraat 68
    2515NK Den Haag
    The Netherlands

    + 31 6 14 24 28 78
    + 33 7 68 41 08 78

    Copyright © Field Essays 2O22
    Design by ÉricandMarie