In London, the British Council has a showcase exhibition of contemporary creative talents from Kazakhstan. City Nomads exhibition runs 23 JUNE – 23 SEPTEMBER 2016.
Have those, who live in the lands of the ancient nomads, inherited the spirit of their forefathers? Are they retracing the well-worn pathways of their ancestors, or have their tracks been completely erased by just a few decades of Soviet propaganda? Is the question of nomadic identity a matter of consciousness, or is it irrelevant now? Has their culture become homogenised by communism and now globalisation? Could the word “cosmopolitan” be a term for total nomadism? Are our cities now the new pastures for the modern nomad?
After 300 years of colonisation and subsequent Soviet control, a new generation of Kazakhstani has been searching for the answer to these questions in an era of regained independence.
In recent years many people have left the country hoping to find themselves abroad and become welcome members of a global society. Some have since returned. Like exotic treasures brought from the Silk Road, they bring their experience and new found skills back from their travel adventures, with the intention of applying this knowledge to develop new industries and reviving old dreams of Kazakhstan. The symbiosis of Kazakh culture and global experience is developing striking and unique results in fashion, music, design, film and art.
City Nomads addresses these questions through the work of young Kazakhstani artists and designers, that are expressing their inner nomad.
City Nomads is an exhibition of contemporary Kazakhstani creative talents emerging in an era of a newfound independence. The projects brought together in this showcase all embody a shared desire to search for a new identity through an investigation of the pre-Soviet Kazakh nomadic roots.
Against a background of global change and centuries of colonial rule Kazakhstan has had to quickly adapt to the realities of becoming a 21st Century nation. In the 1990’s, immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was no time for deep reflection. Today we see the first generation of Kazakhstanis for almost one hundred years to be born into an independent country to freely begin to rethink the past and refer to it as a source of inspiration and strength. For this generation there was no iron curtain between Kazakhstan and the rest of the world. They naturally own instruments offered by global society, access to which had previously been prohibited and punishable by law.
We are now seeing the first manifestations of creative independence. At the forefront of this movement are representatives of the creative industries. Sensitive to change, creative people are always quick to perceive and react to new situations. They study the legacy of the past, they rethink it and move it on, recognising the lessons and achievements in their work: photographers looking for traces of a nomadic past in portraits of their fellow citizens; fashion designers reinterpreting traditional costume into new forms; film-makers experiencing a new way of telling an honest story, not burdened by official censors; and industrial designers are experimenting with materials and functions of objects.
“Integration, without doubt, is one of the most important vectors of development of the cultural industry as a whole. For this reason City Nomads offers British viewers the chance to see examples of almost every art form produced in Kazakhstan in a single exhibition. Our goal is to open up a wide and long-lasting channel of communication between our two countries so that we can be nomads together.”
VLADISLAV SLUDSKIY, ART DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ART FESTIVAL ARTBAT FEST, CO-FOUNDER OF EURASIAN CULTURAL ALLIANCE
Time 10.00 – 17.00, Monday – Friday
Date 23 June – 23 September 2016
Location British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, London, UK