ARTBAT FEST and IADA are pleased to present ON LOVE AND OTHER TEACHERS, a group show featuring emerging Kazakh artists in an alternative exhibition venue: the parking garage’s underground level 3 of the commercial center of Almaty known as “the New Place.”
ON LOVE AND OTHER TEACHERS is curated by Dina Baitassova and Emilie Trice and brings together the works of sixteen Kazakh artists, all under the age of 35, whose artistic practices span diverse media, including video and performance art, painting, installation and graffiti. The exhibition’s central themes revolve around the concept of LOVE, including expressions of passion, desire, nostalgia and empathy, as well as more personal narratives connecting the artists’ unique experiences to those of the viewing public. Ultimately, ON LOVE AND OTHER TEACHERS seeks to translate the individual’s experience of LOVE, a “universal” human emotion, to the shared collective consciousness and urban condition.
Located in an underground parking garage, the exhibition’s venue provides a fitting backdrop to the show’s subject. The most intimate of emotions, LOVE tends to thrive in the dark recesses of our psyches. LOVE is among the most difficult human emotions to authentically express, as it forces us to reveal our true selves, to become vulnerable and to offer ourselves for potential rejection. LOVE is not guaranteed. It can be fleeting, painful, raw and tragic. It can also be comforting, reassuring, unconditional and sublime.
The exhibition’s title is borrowed from a film by exhibiting artist ADA YU. Her work incorporates photography, choreography, and installation. During the exhibition’s vernissage on August 28th, YU will stage a performance art piece called Ellysium.
Comprised of more than 250 felt hats, SYRLYBEK BEKBOTAYEV’s installation transports the viewer to a more innocent place and time. Recalling the traditional dress of the Steppe nomads, his installation’s use of felt hats is designed to mimic the mountainous Kazakh landscape while calling attention to the political and social realities of those who inhabit these areas, their families and loved ones. AIGERIM MAZHITKHANKYZY’s site-specific installation, comprised of symbols connected to archaic tribes that the artist has re-contextualized as modern road signs, also links our present-day society to historic cultures and ancient symbols.
ALEXEY SHINDIN’s totems also seem anachronistic, relics of a not-so-distant past. Arranged as ritualistic mandalas, these assemblages utilize modern day instruments – utensils, CDs, USB sticks, etc. – but their compositions invoke an almost shamanistic spirit.
ALEXANDRA ALI’s installation piece combines light and landscape imagery to transform part of the garage into a surreal and romantic space. Her use of neon light and color create an almost futuristic aesthetic, with nods to nu-rave youth culture and the ecstatic highs that traditionally accompany such scenes. SUINBIKE SULEIMENOVA & AINUR KOZHABAYEVA’s site-specific installation also incorporates neon to interact with and psychologically seduce viewers, in addition to SULEIMENOVA’s other exhibited work: a film which documents a touching moment in a human relationship.
Graffiti artists ANDREW, DMN and REKON have also utilized the physical exhibition space as their canvas. Together, these artists, whose work is usually associated with youth culture and underground venues like the parking garage, will recreate a domestic environment, before returning it to the “streets” through their respective writing styles.
Like the graffiti writers’ room, ASSEL KADYRKHANOVA’s installations seek to transform sections of the underground garage into a dreamlike, almost magical stage. These pieces invoke the power of memory, innocence and wonder through the artist’s use of unexpected objects and surreal colors.
The paintings of SHOLPAN SHARBAKOVA also encompass an unorthodox approach to form and color. Canvas are liberated from their stretchers and displayed as sculptures, large-scale abstract compositions made three dimensional by the artist’s choice to relieve them from fixed structures. ANNYA SAND and KAMILLA GABDULLINA work in more traditional media, specifically drawing and painting. Their subjects range from inanimate objects with symbolic significance to emotional portraits and abstracted figurative landscapes. Finally, artists ANASTASIYA SILKINA, ALPAMYS BATYROV also employ painterly abstraction in their respective works to touch upon various aspects of human emotion and relationships, both personal and universal.
Together, the exhibition juxtaposes different visions on the eternal subject of LOVE, as understood by each of the invited artists. The resulting works express a desire or a dream – lust, bliss and even suffering –emotions that help us to understand something important about ourselves as individuals, while teaching us greater lessons about the nature of humanity as a whole.