rus eng

The Nomads

Almagul Menlibayeva, Gulnur Mukazhanova, Said Atabekov

23.04.2015 - 30.05.2015

Microsoft Word - ArtwinGallery_The Nomads_press_release_ENG.doc

The exhibition “The Nomads” investigates a central struggle in the art of Kazakhstan over the last few decades, asartists try to articulate a national identity that has been defined by its creative, ethnographical, political andculturological positions in a world that has changed so dramatically in the wake of relatively recent historical events.With “The Nomads,” the curators attempt to present an acute survey of Kazakhstan’s art scene and the current state ofcontemporary art in the country.

In general, over the past few years, the contemporary art of Kazakhstan has been largely ignored by the Russian artworld. It would seem that Perestroika managed to shake the supposedly unbreakable friendship between nations,reconfiguring the logic of how geopolitical interests manifest in the creative environment. Now artists from Moscowand Almaty are more likely to meet at an exhibition opening in Strasbourg or Barcelona, than one another’s studio, ineither country.

This exhibition captures a burgeoning trend currently gaining momentum in the Russian art establishment, whereinstitutions are finally turning to look at the art of the country’s nearest neighbors, reestablishing contacts andcollaborations and recuperating the “Black Holes” of Post-Soviet psychogeography, while also enriching the scene withnew talents, previously little-known but long due recognition. This Proustian theme of the “search of lost time”becomes particularly relevant for Kazakhstan’s contemporary art in the era of sovereignty. The radical social andpolitical changes of the 20th century have left the collective creative consciousness with “phantom pains.” This searchfor a new national identity through overcoming the experiences of the recent past is a process prevalent in countriesand territories where the local and national subconscious has recently suffered a trauma.

Today the artists of Kazakhstan direct their ideas to a kind of imaginary territory, where the “true Kazakhs” (anomadic, steppe-dwelling, Asiatic, shamanic tribe, steeped in mysticism) begin to learn the language and appropriatethe strategies of Western contemporary art, while still preserving the strong “accent” of the Soviet artistic canon. TheMoscow audience will get a glimpse of this complicated mixture of wide-ranging artistic styles with the exhibition, “TheNomads.”

For this exhibition, the curators bring together several generations of artists into one space: from the “grandparents”of Kazakhstan’s contemporary art scene (the founders of the legendary group Kyzyl-Traktor Moldakul Narymbetov andSaid Atabekov, as well as Georgy Tryakin-Bukharov) and the recognized classics who, through their proven artistic “trackrecords,” are already established as the go-to names in Kazakhstan’s contemporary art today (Almagul Menlibayeva,Erbossyn Meldibekov, Saule Suleimenova, Rashid Nurekeev, etc.), to the masters of the new generation, having onlyjust emerged on the scene (“Kyzyl Tractorist” Syrlybek Bekbotaev, Bakhyt Bubikanova, Gulnur Mukazhanova, andothers.) The exhibition takes its name from a 2003 work by Sergey Berdnik, which embodies the specific and uniquefusion of artistic traditions. It is this very fusion – the compounding of a deeply-rooted national identity with globalistleanings, Asian with European, the nomadic with the post-industrial, Islam with paganism, the Soviet mentality with thecapitalist way of life – that the exhibition participants try to convey, while the curators, when making their selections,sought to simultaneously create and dispel myths about today’s art in Kazakhstan.