Central Asian project

17 February — 14 April 2007

Central Asian Project was curated by Anna Harding, Kathy Rae Huffman and Yuliya Sorokina. Alongside the exhibitions there were linked events at Cornerhouse and SPACE, including screening programmes. Also being exhibited is a video showreel composed by Yuliya Sorokina including other works by contemporary artists based in Central Asia: Vyacheslav Akhunov, Ulan Dgaparov, Gulnara Kasmalieva & Murat Dgumaliev, Rustam Khalphin, Sergey Maslov, Almagul Menlibayeva, Kyzyl Tractor Group, George Tryakin-Bukharov and Yelena & Victor Vorobyevs.

Central Asian Project is a unique collaboration between Central Asia and the UK, dedicated to forging new links between the art communities in both these regions through artists residencies, cultural exchanges and exhibitions. Jointly organised by AsiaArt+ (Almaty, Kazakhstan), Cornerhouse (Manchester) and SPACE (London) Central Asian Project will show simultaneously at Cornerhouse and SPACE in February 2007 before touring Central Asia.

The project provides a unique insight into Central Asia, as well as giving a new perspective on British cultural identity, exploring how personal and national identities are created through landscape, culture, history and politics, whilst challenging the prejudices and preconceptions that we hold about each other’s countries.  Showcasing work from UK artists and some of the most influential Central Asian artists practicing today, the project draws attention to the similarities and differences between culture and contemporary art in both these regions of the world.

In the context of this project Central Asia refers to the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. These relatively new countries, born out of the dismantling of the Soviet territory, are still establishing their cultural identities. Whereas British artists have been active participants of the global contemporary art scene for a while, their Central Asian counterparts have been under-represented and the regions of Central Asia are often perceived to be on the periphery of contemporary culture. The lack of an established tradition of ‘modern’ art in these countries means that artists have approached contemporary art with their own original frameworks and perspective drawing upon the rich tradition of storytelling, shamanism and the legacy of Soviet rule as well as the influence of global art, culture and media.

A distinctive aspect of the Central Asian contemporary artistic community is its almost family-like structure. The burgeoning scene is still relatively small in scale and its artists support and help each other regularly. Central Asian Project emulates this rare quality and expands it across international boundaries. All artists involved in the project are undertaking residencies in each other’s countries to share skills, learn from each other and discover new cultures…

Read on here…