Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Time of the Storytellers

For those who are interested in contemporary art and Central Asia.

I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki today. The museum is currently holding an excellent exhibition entitling "Time of the Storyteller", presenting contemporary art from post-Soviet regions reaching from the eastern borders of Europe right into Asia. I guess I shall just attached some excerpts and pictures from the related websites. And for those who happen to drop by in Helsinki, this is something that not to be missed.

Due to geography and their rich natural resources, many of these countries are a target of keen political and economic interest. The formation of a new national identity in the region is informed by a rich cultural tradition, steeped in the nomadic lifestyle, shamanism, as well as in Islam. The Soviet heritage and new Western influences are also present. All these influences emerge in the work of contemporary artists. Their works make a conscious break with exotic oriental stereotypes, on the one hand, or, on the other, deal with topical political or social themes.

In their works Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev deal with the visible effects of the Soviet past and the current phase of global capitalism from the perspective of their home country, Kyrgyzstan. There is empathy and nostalgic undertones trickling to the surface of a matter-of-fact approach – wistful memories of past good times and the hope for a possibly better future looming somewhere far away.

The video work A New Silk Road: Algorithm for Survival and Hope (2006) tells about the current state of the legendary trade route. There are no longer solemnly progressing camel caravans on this road; instead it has been taken over by noisy truck convoys transporting scrap metal to China and returning loaded with bales of textiles. Also fragments from the life of Bishkek's Dordoi Market in Kyrgyzstan are displayed. This is the biggest trading hub in Central Asia where cheap goods are brought from China and thence transported to the other regions of Central Asia.

A New Silk Road: Algorithm for Survival and Hope, 2006, 5 channel video installation and a series of C-prints, 9:34 min

Link to the official website:

Helsinki 11/9/2007

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