The ArtTube Informational Portal is delighted to present the exhibition Reconciliation: Memory of the Steppes created in conjunction with ARTBAT FEST 8.
The Reconciliation project is an attempt to reconsider the civil war experience in Russia and beyond. It is a part of a series of exhibition projects in Russia and the CIS. Facing an open political and military clash and confronting a grandiose revolutionary movement markedly defined the national and individual identity for thousands of people. Ever since, there has been a stable spread of the public narrative centered around the dichotomy, initially formed and disseminated by Soviet history books, between the Reds and the Whites and ongoing attempts to 'rehabilitate' the White movement. Organizers and participants of the Reconciliation initiative strive to weave in individual experiences and local stories that go against the universalism of the official narrative.
This project's focus on Kazakhstan is rooted in the existence of an alternative scenario for the country's development, which, unfortunately, was never realized. The local intelligentsia at the head of the state association Alash-Orda advocated a formation of an autonomous Kazakh state or a so-called 'third way'. However, the Bolsheviks immediately abolished the project of the national movement aimed to liberate the Kazakh people from the colonial yoke at the time of the Bolshevik takeover. Historical accounts with actual events have been excluded from the impressive official narrative of Kazakhstan's civil war. Reconciliation: Memory of the Steppes aims to give voice to Kazakh civil war stories that previously had been untold, lost, or intentionally concealed from the public. In this pursuit, the artists examine a wide range of human experiences of history and war and synthesize them into varying artistic expressions. Uniting artworks from Russia and Kazakhstan, the project addresses issues of historical and collective memory and the unconventional ways of its formation and transformation.
Assel Kadyrkhanova's installation The Machine, through its analysis of the horror of the Great Purge of 1937, visualizes the gap between authorities and a great number of people killed as a result of bureaucratic procedures. The Machine attempts to sustain vanishing accounts of thousands gone missing in military enlistment offices and prisons.
Smail Bayliev's Steel Army calls attention to an image of an anonymous majority that is the subject of operation and control in any given major historical event. Identical and austere metal uniforms resembling sarcophaguses obscure their wearers' identities, thereby equalizing them in the face of death. Individuals become a mass devoid of any names and voices.
The Wound, a video artwork by Tatyana Akhmetgaliyeva, expresses pain and vulnerabilities of communities at large through individual bodies. Scars, injections, cracks, and stitches cover human bodies and spread through countries and their histories; on one hand, they act as physical evidence of historical evolution and, on the other, marks that sit atop concealed and, oftentimes, distressing memories of the past.
Said Atabekov's media sculpture A Battle for the Square depicts a portrait of modern society and the existence within it as an ongoing battle for power and ownership. Presented metaphorically through an ancient ritual game Kokpar, the artwork emphasizes archaic dimensions of violence, which contradict the idea of development and progress.
Alexander Ugay's installation The Model for Assembly analyzes facts pertaining to the Korean diaspora in Central Asia and illustrates them through schematic drawings and diagrams, which compose a comprehensive image of a fragmented collective memory. The sheer variety of narratives overlapping each other spatially deconstructs the particular perception of history as a temporal sequence and substitutes a singular line with a fully dimensional mental map.
Irina Petrakova employs the figurative language of graphics and frottage on canvas to render arrowslits in fortifications on Russky Island. The work touches on themes of forgetting, oblivion, and displacement of the memories of war for succeeding generations.
The Red Butterfly by Almagul Menlibayeva guides the audience through an ethnographic dimension of historical and military confrontations. Menlibayeva explores the feminine aspect within national and cultural identities of the post-Soviet system and, with the aid of modern technology, she resurrects a female image composed of local myths and legends. The artist works with the idea of memory, capable of taking many forms and shapes, through mythopoeic language.