Mirra Markhaeva is a visual artist living in Brussels, originally from the Republic of Buryatia (located in southeast Siberia). She works with illustration, graphic design, mural painting and textile sculptures.
Her recent practice is focused on the production of tapestry and rugs. These latest ones often take as a starting point her illustrations drawn on the memories of her childhood and experience of growing up in a buryat village. Many aspects of buryat culture are reflected through her visual imaginary: veneration of ancestors, Buddhism, shamanism, Siberian nature and little pieces of indigenous experience that have survived through Russian assimilation For Mirra, the act of ‘translating’ an illustration into tapestry, or another medium, creates a different relationship with the viewer, a more intimate and tactile one.
By diving into the (re)discovery of her own culture through art, Mirra reflects on her origins, conveys the voices of her ancestors, but also questions how to deal with (im)material heritage which is today in danger. Somehow, her artistic practice is a form of activism to dive into buryat culture and denounce Russian imperialism that has silenced many indigenous people of Siberia and the Far East.
Going back to the knowledge and memories passed through from one generation to another in her own family, by her mother and grandmother, the artist inscribes herself in the broader intergeneration herstory.
The universe evoked by Mirra Markhaeva – which mixes sci-fi and futuristic fantasies and traditional figures and symbols – is populated mainly by female mythological creatures. Women voices were the most silenced and, by visualising their presence, Mirra Markhaeva’s work becomes a manifesto for a Buryatia free from racism, sexism, ageism and other forms of discrimination.
Alongside the development of her individual practice, Mirra Markhaeva is also part of The Post Collective, an autonomous platform of co-creation, co-learning and cultural activism created by and for refugees, asylum seekers, sans papiers and accomplices. As an undocumented person, Mirra sees art as a form for voicing social and political injustices.