For three years already, our project, aimed to support young artists, has been operating under the ARTBAT FEST initiative.
Soon after the 2014 edition of the project, which was originally launched in an exhibition format, it became clear to us that the primary purpose is to educate rather than to merely demonstrate. Consequently, our curatorial tasks included working individually with artists on their projects. This year, we sought to fully implement the educational program plan.
Undoubtedly, the educational component was present in previous years of the festival; it was common in specialized short events such as workshops, lectures, and seminars with artists.
However, full assimilation of ideas requires time. Furthermore, no educational programs focused on contemporary art exist in Almaty. Continuous work with artist brings out lack of communication between generations. Continuity, student internships and apprenticeships practically ceased to exist. It is for these reasons that we decided to create a special educational course that would take place in the months preceding the festival, as theory goes before practice. We are infinitely grateful to Yulia Sorokina, who enthusiastically supported the idea. This is how the School of Artistic Gesture (SAG) was born.
The final product of this year's three-month session is the Exhibition of Young Artists held at the Tram Depot in Almaty. The location was chosen deliberately. One could trace a peculiar connection between the Railway Station, where we held last year's festival opening, and Tram Depot. The metaphor of movement and relocation appropriately suits artistic practices. Moreover, it is no secret that Almaty is in a desperate need for exhibition spaces, urging us to constantly seek out unconventional ways and places. Finally, trams emanate a sense of nostalgia, for their integral role in the city's urban life and in memories of residents eventually came to an end. The location, therefore, became a tribute to the history of Almaty. Artists are always at the forefront of social change; we hope that the Depot will become a social and cultural space that will diversify lives of Almaty citizens.