Umwelt – the concept, formulated in 1909 by the biologist and philosopher Jakob von Uexküll, in an attempt to explain the fact that different animals in the same ecosystem react to different external signals. Creatures that have acute hearing and vision, perceive the world differently than beings endowed with an excellent sense of smell, or interacting with the external environment by means of ultrasonic waves and electric fields. The new term was intended to describe the difference between the perceptions of the surrounding world, which is common for humans as well.
Each of us has his own Umwelt, the closest area of the world that we are ready to accept. We perceive what is happening through the prism of our own experience, nature and circumstances, like whales, bats, birds and all other species. Our Umwelt – comfortable living area – includes a plurality of familiar routes, duties, situations and risks that we have to face daily.
Thus, instead of a single monolithic picture of the world, we receive many unique images with an infinite number of distortions.
At the same time, unlike the animal world, we are not always willing to humbly take the difference of views as a given. Mismatches and inconsistencies make us feel uncomfortable and sometimes – suffer. The difference of extracted meanings makes us categorical.
Almost every person is in the absolute certainty that his Umwelt contains the whole universe, and few realize the existence of borders and the "others" universes outside of these borders.
We often do not understand the totality of the factors that shape our perception and how our Umwelt affects the others. The world is reflected in us as in a distorting mirror, and we project this distorted image onto the external environment.
We just exist in parallel to each other and create our own worlds, being absolutely sure that our “version of reality" is accurate and convincing.
The confidence that we possess the truth, leads to the rejection of another's "Umwelt", and on a social scale – to the assertion of dogmas and the denial of dissent.
In this situation, an artist plays the role of an apologist for tolerance, a person aware of voluminosity of the unknowable. An artist is the one who is able to transmit a sense of the complexity of fabric of life, which consists of a plurality of individual projections. We live in different cognitive worlds, but the work of an artist is able to become their focal point.
Aida Mahmudova was born in Baku in 1982 and lives and works in Baku. In 2206 she graduated from Central Saint Martin`s College of Art and Design in London with a BA Degree in Fine Art. In 2011, Aida Mahmudova founded YARAT, a non-governmental organization that promotes Azeri contemporary art both on a national and international level, support creativity of young people and helps to foster cultural dialogue between Azerbaijan and other countries. Mahmudova's work has been shown at the 56th Venice Biennale at the exhibition Vita Vitale at the National Pavilion of Azerbaijan, MAXXI in Rome and at the 55th Venice Biennale for the exhibition Love Me, Love Me Not amongst others. Her work was also the subject of a solo exhibition at the Barbarian Art Gallery in Zurich in 2013, Leila Heller Gallery in New York and Baku Museum of Modern Art in 2015.