Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

June 1, 2005
Central Asian Pavilion: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

Pavilion Address:
Palazzo Pisani
Canareggio 6103/A
Palazzo Pisani,
Venice, Italy
Curator: Viktor MISIANO

Alexander NIKOLAEV
Vyacheslav AKHUNOV
Video Archive:

Almaty Radical Performances of the 1990s
Videos Karaganda-Rudnij (Northern Kazakhstan). 2001-2004
Red Tractor Group, Shymkent (Southern Kazakhstan). 1999-2003
Videos Almaty-Shymkent. 1994-2004 Compiled by Valeria Ibraeva and Roman Arefiev (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
Bishkek performances of the 2000s
New Bishkek Video-Art of the 2000s Compiled by Ulan Japarov, Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
Uzbekistan: Performances, Installations, Video-Art. (2000-2005) Compiled by Vyacheslav Akhunov and Alexander Nikolaev
Issyk-Kul Art Symposia. 2001-2002 Film produced by Shaarbek Amankul, Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
Commissioner: Churek Djamgerchinova
Organizer: Kurama Art gallery (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) www.kurama-art.com
e-mail: gallery@kurama-art.com

Art from Central Asia. A Contemporary Archive

Art of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan might be the last territory not represented at the global art scene. This exhibition the first in the history of Venice biennales pavilion of Central Asian counties, is another attempt to fill this gap.

The propriety of this attempt is defined not only by the cultural and historic peculiarity of these countries, but also by their ethnic and art originality. Interest towards this region might be motivated by the fact that these countries are a part of modernity. Being a subject of the Soviet modernization, Central Asia was a key participant of various collisions and bearer of historic experience of the XX century. At the same time collisions and experience of post communist period transformed it into the full member of global order. Thus, also in art, being a part of art reform of Russian avantguard, Central Asian artists created their original context, their own perspective towards contemporary art discourse.

As it is the first presentation of this regional context in Venice, it is sensible to present is as a context, as a dialectic multiplicity of various artist, various generations, various ethnos, cultural centers, and, finally, different countries. It makes sense to show this context as dialectic multiplicity of individual and collective experience, especially of post Soviet period, and not as the latest actual expressions. The last results havent been done yet, it remains live substance, provoking question that do not have answers. Consequently, the questions that have already been asked and suggested answers are still actual. The works by already dead Sergey Maslov are still vital as well as the works by a young duet Roman Maskalev and Maxim Boronilov. An archive of the Central Asia is a Contemporary Archive.

Looking for identity was the first problem of actual time that was in focus of Central Asian art scene, the countries that had recently obtained political independence. Mytho-poetic narrative in forms of installation, and later video, started to be actively used by the artists of various generations, from Rustam Khalfin, the founder and patriarch of Alma-Ata scene, to the young follower, Almagul Menlibaeva. Thanks to the efforts of various artists (R. Khalfin, Kanat Ibragimov, Erbossyn Meldibekov, group Red Tractor, etc) it appeared in forms of performance. By the initiative of Shaarbek Amankul it appeared in forms of vast stationary works created in the nature. However, while appealing to national-ethnic archetypes: step, nomadic and Sufis traditions, etc., sacrifice, pagan rites this narrative refused any pretences to be authentic but became a construct, it was created and immediately destroyed. Thus, Vyacheslav Akhunovs authors myth includes both icons of the Soviet propaganda, a pyramid, made of Lenins sculptures, and icon of the Western consumerism Coca Cola ads. Said Atabekovs shamanism includes also motives of post-modernity, Kalashnikov gun or police silhouettes at the pavement.

National myth is a construct of not only artists but also of a new political power, in regard to which the artists, for example works by Yelena and Viktor Vorobyev, took a position of aloof analyses and deconstruction. Artists also show, Sergey Maslovs works, that the reverse side of new political mythology is reality of survival. Survival doesnt have national; identity, it is universal. According to Muratbek Djoumaliev and Gulnara Kasmalieva, paradoxical positivism of dramatic posy-Soviet experience is in this openness to universal.

However, the perception of both universal basis and national identity by the Central Asian artists is ambiguous. For Erbossyn Meldibekov we burst to the universal through the rejection of identity, through self-abuse. For Alexander Nikolaev the only possible universality is globalized cultural industry and it imposes stereotyped identities. For Roman Maskalev and Maxim Boronilov identity and universality are not counterpoints, they are fused in existential and philosophic experience of route and way. For the Bishkek poor actionism by Ulan Djaparov and his colleagues, universal presents itself in unexpected moments, obtaining forms of everyday jokes that, in their own turn, are the remnants of a myth.

These are some of the names and events that can be found in the Actual archive of Central Asian art
Viktor Misiano
Curator of Central Asian Pavilion

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Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
June 1, 2005

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