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Wolves of The Steppes

Said Atabekov

12.11.2015 - 03.12.2015

Artwin Gallery presents the personal exhibition of Said Atabekov “Wolves of the Steppes”.
Said Atabekov is a member of the “Kyzyl Traktor” art group, named in honour of the red tractor set up at the entrance to the South Kazakhstan Historical and Regional Studies Museum. In its time, it was precisely this institution that helped the group’s participants make a name for themselves, providing them with a venue for their first exhibitions. Kyzyl Traktor’s participants create large-scale projects with traditional materials taken from the nomadic way of life. Working in the sphere of contemporary art, they preserve and interpret the spirit of age-old tradition, using the typical materials available to the nomad – leather, wood and felt. The main concept of this art group lies in the juxtaposition of the archaic pre-Islamic past against Soviet practices of artistic professionalism.
Said Atabekov has been extensively exhibited all around the world. Special mention goes to his exhibitions at the Sharjah Art Museum (2014); the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2013); the Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011, 2007 and 2005); Ostalgia, New Museum (2011); Kiasma Museum (2007); and the Istanbul Biennial (2005).
The “Wolves of The Steppes” project comprises a photographic series of the same name and the “Customs Point” installation. The photographs from the “Wolves of The Steppes” series capture scenes from the popular traditional game of “kokpar”, in which horsemen engage in fierce competition to seize the carcass of a goat. On the one hand, this is a brutal contest in which the primordial element of strength reigns supreme, an approximation of cosmogonic battles between titanic forces. On the other, it is a metaphor for the crude, dangerous, and not seldom treacherous competition which the author sees in contemporary “market” activity, accompanied by its cult of success. The world is thus akin to a cruel struggle in which the prize for which all compete so fiercely is, in essence, unimportant – the “goat’s carcass” takes second place to the status of the victor and the attributes associated with this role.
The installation “Customs Point” is fashioned from traditional tools of labour. The central object is formed from a mound of farmers’ hoes, which make reference both to an apocalyptic image of those fallen on the battlefield and to the arduous toil of the migrant worker, forced to earn his bread the hard way, in competitive struggle, whether it be home in Central Asia or further afield.