The film Tightrope, by Russian artist Taus Makhacheva, shows Rasul Abakarov (tightrope walker and descendant of a tightrope dynasty in its 5th generation), crossing a canyon in the Caucasus Mountains carrying 61 copies of works from the Dagestani Museum of Fine Art, of which Makhacheva’s grandmother was the first director.

The film contains a certain tension, as Abakarov every now and then wavers, the paintings in his hands catching gusts of wind. Moreover, Abakarov insisted on performing the work without a safety net.

The film’s imagery

The paintings that Abakarov transports in this perilous way all portray certain parts of the history and culture of Dagestan. Among them, landscape paintings are exhibiting the Russian exoticism towards the region. Besides, there is also a copy of Franz Roubaud’s Assault of Aul Gimry. This 1891 painting shows Russian troops’ brutal siege over Ghazi Muhammad’s army in the Caucasian war in 1832.

Tightrope’s imagery is clear and esthetic. Filmed from various angles, the paintings’ art and history form a symbiosis with Abakarov’s dangerous balancing act.