Asli Samadova, a Baku and Milan-based cultural manager and museum specialist, studied business, management and public administration before developing her practice as an art manager. Educated in Azerbaijan, the USA, and Italy, Asli’s international experience in business helped her to sharpen her skills as a cultural organizer. Since 2007, she has been a passionate advocate of Azerbaijani heritage, working to popularize cultural history to both local and international audiences. She also took the role of Special Projects Manager and External Consultant to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan as a special advisor on international relations, education and museology projects, including the promotion of partnerships with institutions such as Pinacoteca di Brera in Italy to support professional development in the arts, and as a member of the Organizational Committee and Session Curator of the 13th International Conference on Oriental Carpets (ICOC) in GWU Textile Museum, Washington D.C. Significantly, in October 2017 she was the project leader of the 5th International Symposium on Azerbaijani Carpets, a prestigious event that welcomed speakers and attendees from across the globe.
Her involvement included the exhibition “Silk Treasures: Azerbaijani Embroideries from the 16th -18th centuries” at the Azerbaijan National Art Museum and included objects loaned from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the GWU Textile Museum, and the Berlin Islamic Art Museum. As part of her research, she was the first Azerbaijani to study rare embroideries at the Victoria & Albert Clothworkers Center in London, and as a result she initiated the ‘Star of Caucasus’ catalogue, an important work of scholarship investigating links between European and Azerbaijani art history. She also has a reputation as a skilled researcher – she discovered the inclusion of a Kelaghayi silk in an Alphonse Mucha painting and helped to rediscover a connection between a Nizami poem to European art. Recently, she organized exhibitions spanning history and contemporary art with her work for the 2018 Silk Road Festival in Baku that included Faig Ahmed’s 10(-35) carpet installation at the Kapellhaus, Slavs&Tatar’s The Tranny Tease lecture-performance and Vertigo Sounds Installation in Icheri Sheher.
Asli’s innovative contextualization of heritage in contemporary culture led her to begin to collaborate with the Goethe-Zentrum Baku in 2017 on a number of ground-breaking exhibitions at their venue the Kapellhaus as well as other partner spaces across the city, including the 2018 events “Gericault’s Shipwreck Revisited. On Migrants and Refugees” show featuring international and Azerbaijani artists, “Dialogue Project” of art and performances. Abroad, she delivered a session on Nizami Ganjavi with Italian National Academy in Rome in 2018 as part of her personal mission to build cultural bridges between Azerbaijan and the global community.
She also has multiple projects underway – coming up, she is planning the exhibitions “Kelaghayi” and “Germanijan” for December 2018, and is already organizing multiple group exhibitions for the spring of 2019. As an advocate for the local art community, she plans to provide opportunities to promote emerging talent, with an independent project underway for early 2019. In addition to all of these activities, she is also an author of a children’s book. With a diverse practice and fresh perspective on the role of heritage in contemporary society, Asli’s projects continue to enrich and expand Azerbaijani cultural life.