Friday, April 4, 2008

FILM- I Dream of the Stans: New Central Asian Video, New York, Mar. 20-Apr. 19

Distrib. by: Central-Eurasia-L - Announcement List for Central Eurasian Studies

FILM- I Dream of the Stans: New Central Asian Video, New York, Mar. 20-Apr. 19

Posted by: Leeza Ahmady <>

I Dream of the Stans: New Central Asian Video

Featuring recent work by Vyacheslav Akhunov, Rahraw Omarzad, Almagul
Menlibayeva, Jamshed Khalilov, Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek
Djumaliev, Said Atabekov, and Julia Tikhonova & Rustam Khalfin

Co-curated by Leeza Ahmady, Murat Orozobekov, and Edward Winkleman

March 20 – April 19, 2008
Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat, 11 6 pm

In conjunction with Asian Contemporary Art Week 2008, Winkleman
Gallery is extremely pleased to present I Dream of the Stans, an
exhibition of new video by leading contemporary artists in Central
Asia and Afghanistan. Co-curated by independent curator Leeza Ahmady,
Murat Orozobekov, and Edward Winkleman, the exhibition surveys the
range of powerful new works emerging from this often overlooked region
of the world. Since the incredible critical acclaim that greeted the
first Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2005,
contemporary artists from Afghanistan and the former Soviet Republics
of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan have drawn an
increasing amount of attention from Western curators, museums and
galleries. Most of the newfound attention centers on the remarkably
strong single- and multi-channel video works produced in the region, a
fact often attributed to the region's centuries-old traditions of
storytelling, street theater, and weaving. I Dream of the Stans brings
together works by seven of the area's most important artists (and
teams) including Vyacheslav Akhunov, Rahraw Omarzad, Almagul
Menlibayeva, Jamshed Khalilov, Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek
Djumaliev, Said Atabekov, and Julia Tikhonova & Rustam Khalfin.

Known for elaborate multi-channel video installations (including a
5-channel piece recently commissioned by the Art Institute of
Chicago), the husband-wife team Muratbek Djumaliev & Gulnara
Kasmalieva (Kyrgyzstan) present their 2006 single-channel piece
"Something About Contemporary Nomadism," in which a steady stream of
seemingly bored airline passengers passing through security blithely
submit to what would be seen as highly invasive personal searches in
other settings. Guards with rubber gloves pat them down, touching
their inner legs and backs and chests, while the passengers seem to
hardly notice.

In Vyacheslav Akhunov's (Uzbekistan) video "Cleaner" the artist is
seen meticulously cleaning the surfaces of various British national
monuments in London with his toothbrush. Akhunov was well-known by his
peers as the "official anti-official artist" during the Soviet era,
but now continues to tackle ideas of cultural superiority, be it
intellectual, spiritual or political. In his videos, the subjects
often repeat certain actions or gestures in a kind of circular
pattern; from bottom to top, one point to another, or just going round
and about - all reminiscent of various forms of Sufi meditations. In
"Cleaner" Akhunov reminds us that perhaps our sacredly guarded ideas
about culture and its production needs some form of cleansing. He is
keen on broadening defined notions and unburdening established
authorities by exploring conflicts, which are derivative of culture
that in itself is subjective.

Rustam Khalfin (born in Uzbekistan and resident of Kazakhstan), as
follower of Russian historical avant-garde and both teacher and
theorist of trends in contemporary art and culture, has played an
integral role in training younger artists. In his collaboration video
with Julia Tikhonova, entitled "Northern Barbarians, Part II: Love
Races," a young couple is making love, nude on horseback, while riding
across some desolate woods. Inspired by two series of watercolors from
the 18th and 19th centuries (found in the book of "Chinese Eros") the
love scenes are re-interpreted. The term "Northern Barbarians" is a
reference the name the ancient Chinese called the wild wanderers they
were grateful to have the Great Wall of China separate them from. The
video is the reconstruction of an ancient way of making love in a
region highly connected to its nomadic past and spirit. Considered a
masterpiece, the work exemplifies how Khalfin's painterly mind is
matched by his conceptual vigor for contextual criticism.

Two internationally exhibiting artists also from Kazakhstan, Almagul
Menlibayeva and Said Atabakov, address the processes for change and
reform in Central Asia with a focus on Asian continental ties and
mentality. Said Atabekov is a founding member of the influential
collaborative "Kizil Traktor" (Red Tractor). In his video "Neon
Paradise," the artist is dressed in his signature dervish outfit made
of an odd mixture of absurd objects, materials and props, including an
old Soviet-military jug for water. He is seen sitting like an
aberration kneeled in a kind of a prayer position repeatedly bowing
his head down towards an automatic double glass door that continues to
open and shut as he moves. It is not clear whether the doors open into
a corporate building, modern super market, or university. What is
clear is that in this noble open-ended manner the artist is
deconstructing contemporary realities such as economic and
environmental decadence and other technologically driven mass global

Almagul Menlibayeva is known as an experimental artist working
simultaneously in a variety of media such as painting, performances,
installations and videos. Her gorgeously landscaped and peopled videos
translate the various dimensions of what she wishes to express about
beauty, decor, ritual and spiritual practices. Her primary concern
with women and their role in pre -Soviet, pre-Islamic, and even
shamanistic and dervish origins is exemplified in her video "Jihad."

Rahraw Omarzad, an artist and professor at Kabul University,
established the Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (CCAA). He is
the conceptual author of the video work "Opening" in collaboration
with his students and members of CCAA. Through CCAA, Omarzad has been
actively working with young artists in an effort to foster their sense
of independence and individuality. Re-education is therefore a
pressing; not only in re-thinking art and its making but in rendering
visible the various truths that are buried beneath the piles of
media-manufactured issues facing Afghanistan. In this video, a dark
screen and a loud consistent banging sound slowly opens to a woman's
sparkling eyes under her "Chadori". Someone from the outside cuts open
a layer of fabric in front of the veiled women, but instead of seeking
to come out or to cut off her veil with the scissors, she opts to
embroider a beautiful and colorful floral design around the opening
with her sensually jeweled and painted hands. The work is a poetic
gesture towards woman's creative role in the world as assigned to her
by nature and how the subjects of freedom and limitation are relative
to internal attitudes, regardless of how dire the external façade.

Jamshed Khalilov represented Tajikistan at the Central Asian Pavilion
in Venice in 2007. In his charming piece "Bus Stop," each image in a
series of photographs of the often highly decorated structures
providing shelter for commuters throughout Central Asian countries
seems to pause momentarily and then whisk off to the side, as if
mimicking the stop-and-start motions of a bus along its route. Often
blending Soviet motifs with more ancient and/or Islamic architectural
themes and patterns, each of the bus stops is a unique artistic
statement even as it serves a public purpose. Sometimes fantastical
(one is shaped like the traditional hat worn by natives), sometimes
simply beautiful, these now nostalgic structures stand out as oases of
expression along the otherwise often desolate roads they punctuate.

For more information, please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152

Winkleman Gallery
637 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
t: 212.643.3152
f: 212.643.2040 <>

Asian Contemporary Art Week
March 15 - 24, 2008

Leeza Ahmady
Independent Curator & Consultant
Director, Asian Contemporary Art Week
Tel: 646.784.8903

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