Central Asıa Pavılıon


53 rd International Art Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia

Страны Центральной Азии участвуют в 53 rd International Art Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia,  которая стартует в июне и продлится до ноября этого года. Центральноазиатский Павильон представляют художники из Казахстана, Кыргызстана, Таджикистана и Узбекистана - Ермек Джайниш, Жамшит Холиков, Оксана Шаталова, Анзор Салиджанов, Елена Воробьева и Виктор Воробьев (Ermek Jaenisch, Jamshed Kholikov, Oksana Shatalova, Anzor Salidjanov, Yelena Vorobyeva &Viktor Vorobyev).

Куратор - Beral Madra (Турция)
Специальный уполномоченный - Vittorio Urbani (Венеция)
Ассистент куратора - Nazira Alymbaeva (Кыргызстан)

 Место:  Палаццо Molin, Fondamenta delle Zattere, Venezia, Vaporetto/waterbus останавливает S.Basilio (линии 61 / 62 / 29) и Zattere (линии 51 / 52 / 2)

 

Статья об искусстве и культуре Центральной Азии

PRELIMINARY NOTES ON THE CENTRAL ASIA PAVILLION AT 53RD INTERNATIONAL ART EXHIBITION AT VENICE BIENNALE

KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN, TAJIKISTAN in Central Asia are the geographical, socio-political and cultural background of this exhibition in the 53rd International Art Exhibition at Venice Biennale.

From a distance, it may seem that my curatorial role in this exhibition, as a curator from Turkey, is based on an underlying cultural kinship between the Central Asia and Turkey. I wish this was the case. Unfortunately, there are serious gaps and discontinuities in the area of cultural production and circulation between Turkey and the Central Asia countries. I would like to draw attention to a reluctance that still prevails in the multilateral cultural relations. After the cold war ended the Turks were looking for business opportunities in Central Asia rather than pursuing some kind of genuine cultural exchange, even if the politicians were using the pan-Turkism as an artificial lure. Yet the "world makers" did not hesitate to create, enforce, or promote some kind of pan-Turkic identity which was vastly overestimated. The historical cultural affinity and the language facilities only served as a pragmatic tool for better business. I regret to say that an earnest and productive artistic and cultural exchange was not built throughout the years; geographical distance has prevented the ethnicity and language to be used as a bridge...

I, without doubt do not approach these countries with a bit of cultural romanticism and arrogance. My main point is that contemporary cultural exchange between Turkey and the Central Asian countries is still too distant and the Turkish language with its different dialects did not yet tie the intellectuals, theoreticians and artist together. Throughout 20th century, when all of us were going through modernism, the lingua-franca was in Central Asia is Russian, not Turkish. Now, the global lingua-franca is English. While my involvement to this exhibition will serve these art scenes in a professional way, I also hope that it might open a new line of cultural exchange, in the form of reciprocal collaboration in contemporary art.

The artistic choice and content of the VB pavilion of a country, most of the time reveals the consensus between the official and private cultural sectors, due to their crucial financial grandeur and the irresistibility. The artworks may reflect the socio-political or cultural background of the artists or a statement, a comment, a criticism on the global state of affairs. We have also seen numerous examples of minimalist and abstract works that enticed the sophisticated cultural experts and the VB public. In all cases, the most lasting impression radiates from the attitude of the artist and from the concept of the art work in juxtaposition to the position of the VB within the socio-political-economical milieu of that particular era. As the number of the participating countries grew, their geographical distance became vast. As the oldest and most desired convention place for mainstream contemporary art productions and their creators and distributors VB is still the centre, despite its infrastructural modification of including the margins and the marginal people of global art into its pool of diversity. Here, diversity and distance create an ambiguous coupling.

The system of biennale- a continuous subject of subversive criticism - requires an intercultural exchange of artists as well as curators. In this sense the artists have willingly embraced the self-inductive nomadism in order to follow up the agenda and trends, benefiting from the direct encounter to the other culture, even if these cultures are already polluted with global economy impositions and do not in reality differ from the other in daily life issues. For curators this expansion opens two fields of contradictory character; the one is the field of a new knowledge and experience, the other a new job market that may have more dramatic conditions than his country or region of origin. The border between the field of knowledge and the market is pawed either with glittering stones or slippery ones. The discrepancy between the socio-political background of the curator and the new field of operation determines the correct or false position and task of the curator. Thus the process of democratisation and the developments of the neo-liberal capitalism and the structure and transformation of culture industry are key issues in creating and organising exhibitions and bringing it into the main stream operation field. The conditions of production undoubtedly shapes the art making, aesthetic approach and achievement of the artists as well as the curator. The priorities of art making in the contexts of the former Third World or Post-soviet countries are the opening of expression of individual creativity, the commitment in to the social and cultural transformations, the quest for reciprocity and the possibility of forums for cultural and artistic discourse. For curators working in these environments curating becomes a rather complex task being involved in socio-political debates and criticism of artistic circles, in many cases taking sides with certain groups of artists and of balancing the indispensable but long ago forgotten solidarity with the ever present competition conditions of the new global art order in the field of operation.

There are some questions to be asked, concerning the position and the curator when it comes to distinguish the traditional, constitutional and economic facts and figures in the global diversity.

The motivations of an artist in the post-national, post-soviet, post-nine-eleven context seem to be the same, as they all position themselves on the borderline of a developing and developed culture industry, paving the way to free expression and thinking, improving the communication between the local-regional and global artistic and theoretical discourse and communication. In the case of Central Asia artists the 60 years of rupture between the traditional or indigenous cultures - that have now a highly esteemed universal value - and the Soviet culture is both a field of research and sceptical scrutiny. Even these basic issues need an effort and well planning to be transformed into effective art works not only because of the failing facilities and infrastructures, but also because of the modernist nature of general appreciation of the public concerning contemporary art that consigns the contemporary artworks somewhere between handicraft and decoration. Photography and video, being the most used tools of today's art making are the two techniques that gave the artists the upper hand in bypassing this prejudice; as in the eyes of the public they elevate the art making to a mental process. These challenges unquestionably go beyond the tasks and efforts of artists living in countries with already fortified and established official and private cultural policies. Again it is conventional to indicate that their context is widely determined by the ethnic and traditional heritage on one side, by the soviet, nationalist or religiously conservative cultural discourse and practice on the other. Oddly enough all these retrospective fields of influence provide a vast pool of visual, verbal and documentary material that can be used, recycled or re-evaluated within the multifarious technologies of today's art making and methods of art distribution and strategies.

The lack of cultural relations and inhibition of communication throughout the cold war period created a void between the centres of different modernisms thus extinguishing the essential universalism and homogeneity objectives of Western modernism. The recuperation of these lost times are now conveyed through the art works that consciously refer to the recent past... Here, the ambiguous character of the visual art products should be questioned in their impact on the different communities of a country. In most cases these communities are quite distant to the indirect implications and simulations, even if the artist inserts a familiar traditional material to his/her transgressive presentation which aims to ignite an awareness and alternativeness in the mind of the public.

According to analysts the driving force of globalisation manifests itself in the CA countries in many lines of attack not so different than in the other continents of the globe: Re-nationalization, neo-liberal fundamentalism, as well as neo-liberal economical vectors like transportation of goods, transportation of people, labour emigration, and construction boom. Most of these forces can be observed as micro narratives, semi-documentary observations and critical comments in the art works of the CA artists, mainly consisting of bw and colour photographs and videos. The Soviet period impact on the cultural life of the Asian continent, generally named Sovietisation, comes into view in most of the works as a common historical heritage to be re-inspected, questioned and finally disdained, all displayed in surrealistic, humoristic of transgressive manner. Another tendency is to aggravate the traditional and geographical cultural particularities within the discourse and techniques of contemporary art; semi-documentary video works, photography series and installations with traditional artefacts.

It is always difficult to sum up the developments in art scenes and come up with a definite panorama and to determine the tools of moving forward. In the case of CA artists one can observe the emergence of contemporary art making since the middle of 90's. Between 1997-2000, the first notable exhibitions were realized in Bishkek, Tashkent and Almaty. A significant publication of the emergence of contemporary art is "Art Discourse-97", edited by Valeria Ibraeva on the occasion of the seminar on the contemporary art theory and practices in Almaty (28.08-01.09.1997). Later, most of the art production published in this book and most of the participating artists were exhibited in the 51st and 52nd Venice Biennale and in a number of group exhibitions that has been realized in European capitals. For example, we see Yelena Vorobyeva & Viktor Vorobyev (Kazakhstan) participating in the 6t (1999) Alexander Ugay and Roman Maskalev (Kazakhstan) in the 9th Istanbul Biennale (2005). Since almost a decade a large group of artists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were invited to EU centres under the title "Contemporary Art from Central Asia", such as "Re-orientation" curated by Andrea Dietrich in Weimar (2001; "No Man's Land" in House of World Cultures in Berlin (2002); "Trans-forma" curated by Daniela Gruninger and Valeria Ibraeva at Geneva Contemporary Art centre (2002; "From Red Star to Blue Dome", Ýslamic Worlds, IFA Gallery, Berlin (2004);"Cultural Heritage of Central Asia", Unesco Headquarters, Paris (2006); Contemporary Art from Central Asia, Uazdovski Palace, Warsaw (2006); "Peace Rose", Spiridonov House, Moscow (2006). Participations in the exhibitions like "Destination Asia": Flying over Strerotypes" in Mumbai, "Paradoxes of Polarity" curated by Leeza Ahmedy at Bose Pacia Gallery in New York,2nd Moscow Biennale, 1st Contemporary Art Biennale, Thessaloniki, "Time of Story Tellers" at Kiasma in Helsinki; "Thermocline" at ZKM in Karlsruhe and "Turbulence" at the 3rd Oakland Triennial in New Zealand throughout 2007 shows the intensified involvement of the artists and art experts in the international networking. All these titles indicate a discourse which is based on the inquisitive gaze of EU art centres and on the dilemma of these artists between the local and international conditions of contemporary art. The expectations of the main-stream institutions and experts, somehow still conserving a diluted kind of Orientalism have been answered back with these titles, that are mockingly attract the attention, but conceal some vicious surprises in their contents. This period is over now; it is time for reciprocity.

All over the non-West the change is very much related to the quantity and quality of contemporary art productions, including critical theory and visual culture, that gradually replace the notion of "fine arts" and of the socio-political and ideological alterations these productions implant into the epistemology of the societies. The most solid factor, namely the nation state ideology is still having its power, but it is in tune with the neo-liberal freedom and permissiveness and the micro-level socio-political issues of local cultures or marginal cultures unexpectedly float up and manifest their differences. These alterations were reflected into the art making as completely free and unrestricted declarations of macro or micro-level individual statements through art works.

As most of the art works of today are far from being hermetic and metaphorical - because they are mostly sociology and documentation based, one can say that art making is serving as a tool of neo-anarchist attitude and proclamation. Evidently this attitude -favoured in the main stream art scenes as democratic manifestations of the non-West - owes its force not only to the political involvement of the artist but also to the freedom breeding due to the oppressive absence of the international market interests and conceited collectors in the region. The dissident individual, the contemporary artist of emerging or developing democracies all over the Middle East and Asia utilize art making in order to have a visible presence within the socio-political panorama of his/her territory. However, this panorama is on one side shadowed by the politicians and bureaucrats and on the other side by the business people who own the financial resources but in general are not so interested in contemporary art production. The other shadow is the media and advertisement culture which are extremely influential in manipulating the public opinion; every cultural event has to make itself visible in the billboards and the media, otherwise it is too small to be seen...

BERAL MADRA, DECEMBER 2008

 

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The CA Pavilion is supported by HIVOS, the Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation, Netherlands: http://www.hivos.nl/

Printing and publication sponsor: Printcenter: http://www.printcenter.com.tr/

The website of CA Pavilion is: http://www.centralasiaart.org/; http://www.centralasiaart.net/

For further information: bmadra [at] tnn [dot] net; info [at] nuovaicona [dot] org