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Unity of Generations: exhibition of Kazakh artists opens in Berlin

by September 27, 2018 Sports

On September 25, the second exhibition of the National Museum’s international project “Focus Kazakhstan” – “Bread and Roses: Four Generations of Kazakhstan Women Artists” was opened in the House of Artists “Kunstquartier Bethanien”.

“Bread and Roses” is the result of works research by four generations of Kazakh women artists, beginning from 1945 and up to the present day. By the definition of the curators, the exhibition represents a new vision of Kazakh art and culture and their wider interpretation in the context of the world of fine art. The term “Bread and Roses”, coined by Polish-born American socialist and feminist, and one of the most prominent women labor union leaders, Rose Schneiderman, affirms women’s rights to equality, culture and power, as well as to urgent needs.

The difficult history of the Kazakh SSR in the period of the 1930s and 1940s and the rapid development of the country since gaining independence in 1991 created a kind of melting pot of ideas that were dynamically reflected in the contemporary art of the country. Curator of the exhibition David Elliot said that chronologically the exhibition begins with the Russian avant-garde, but the exposition opens with an exhibit of arts and crafts – tekemet (textile flooring).

“In their experiments with the form, building of abstractions, color avant-gardists left from the copying of reality, and in the folk art of Kazakhstan, in the ornaments there were already elements of abstraction. And the next generation of artists sought to revive the disappearing folk traditions in the fine arts”, he said.

Tatyana Glebova, Vera Yermolayeva, Aisha Galimbayeva and Gulfairus Ismailova represent the “older” generation of artists at the exhibition. The creativity of these “great-grandmothers”, “grandmothers”, “mothers” of contemporary art reflects the complicated history of the country and a lot of incredible personal stories. These women combined in their work and created a bridge between traditional Kazakh art, the Soviet avant-garde of 1920-30’s and socialist realism.

Most of the exposition of “Bread and Roses” is devoted to art, which appeared in the 1980-90s and is dynamically developing today.

Saule Suleimenova presented a series of works made of cellophane – “Residual memory”, which is devoted to the historical trauma and memory of it. So the work of “Asharshylyk” refers to the famine that swept Kazakhstan during the period of collectivization in the 1930s, and killed about a third of the republic’s population. Saule explores the possibilities of overcoming the historical trauma through artistic practices. Almagul Menlibayeva, who also co-curated the exhibition, presented video installations “Tokamak” and “Steppe Baroque”. “Tokamak” is a multi-channel video that uses various variations of the image of the Tokamak reactor installed in 2017 in Kurchatov. The video serves as a reminder of the Soviet past of Kazakhstan, when nuclear tests were conducted on the territory of the country. In “New Year’s Cards” by Bakhyt Bubikanova, a woman occupies a central place. The artist places the woman in the center of the composition, asking about her role and place in the society. The nude body is also a statement against the imposition of social roles.

The time when women were little represented on the art scene, left behind. Contemporary artists experiment with various media, putting sharp questions and exploring the possibilities of representing themselves and the surrounding society through artistic practices, questioning accepted norms and speaking out for gaining greater creative and personal freedom.

The exhibition is organized in partnership with the non-profit platform of contemporary art Momentum. The curators were well-known international experts: David Elliot, deputy director and senior curator at the Redtori Museum of Contemporary Art, Rachel Ritz-Wolloch, director of Momentum and Kazakhstan artist Almagul Menlibayeva.

Among the artists of the exhibition are Anar Aubakir, Lidiya Blinova, Bakhyt Bubikanova, Ganiya Chagatayeva, Vera Yermolayeva, Zoya Falkova, Aisha Galimbayeva, Tatyana Glebova, Gulfairus Ismailova, Creole Center (Mariya Vilkoviskaya, Rufiya Dzhenderbekova), Gaisha Madanova, Aigerim Mazhitkan, Almagul Menlibayeva, Gulnur Myrzagalikova, Gulnur Mukazhanova, Katya Nikonorova, Saule Suleimenova, Gulmaral Tatibayeva, Yelena Vorobyova, Natalya Dyu.

Also Berlin opened an exhibition of participants of the art residence in the framework of the Rukhani Zhangyru program in partnership with Momentum: Anar Aubakir, Aigerim Ospanova, Ykylas Shaikhiyev, Lilya Kim, Saule Suleimenova, Gulmaral Tatibayeva, Beibut Asemkul.

The “Focus Kazakhstan” project was organized by the National Museum of Kazakhstan with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sport within the framework of the “Rukhani Zhangyru” program. The project manager is Leonid Kochetov, the curator of the project is Roza Abenova.

Source: Kazakhstan 2050