The Central Asian pavilion at the Venice Biennale will open June 1, with international funding from Holland (Hivos) and USA (Open Society Foundation) and representing Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. After a call for curatorial proposals was announced, two students at Oslo’s Academy of Fine Arts, Ayatgali Tuleubek from Kazakhstan and Tiago Bom from Portugal, were selected with the concept Winter. The Academy agreed to act as “commissioning institution”.
The curators have traveled widely in Central Asia, visiting artists and studios. Elements of the exhibition’s content and creation have been included in Academy coursework, and the hope is to link with Central Asian cooperating partners. The Biennale theme is poetics and politics; the exhibition is based on the poem Winter by Kazakhstani poet Abay Qunanbayuli and extends the work’s connections from “the climate and traditional lifestyle” into “the present socio-political situation, through analogies and metaphors”, the curators told Kunstkritikk. They hope to counter the Western concept of Central Asia as “exotic and unreachable”. Eight participating artists, seven in their twenties and thirties, were chosen “for their synergetic qualities and ability to connect” with the theme. The exhibition theme was presented in February at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo and featured Kazakhstani-born, Berlin-based Almagul Menlibayeva, one of the artists chosen after an invitation went to cultural producers with connections to the region. Through this fall an accompanying cycle of film screenings, conferences, and seminars will occur in Central Asia and Oslo. The curators hope these events, set up with local arts institutions, will strengthen dialog in Central Asia about the arts. Original articles in Norwegian (05.02.13, 25.02.13).