“The focus of this exhibition is a new generation of independent Kazakhstan, those who were born during the fall of the Iron Curtain. Through art created by young artists, this exhibition addresses the issue of the experience that has shaped the new generation. Mukhtar Auezov, described the difference between generations as a conflict between the traditional tribal way of life with the new urban culture and secular society in his last novel “Young Tribe” in 1977.
Considering the history of the country as the history of several generations, we can say that the new young tribe described by Auezov, today are parents of the independence age mates, and, respectively, the previous generation is the parents of their parents.
The memory of all these three generations holds a large reservoir of different cultural layers. In the 20th century, Kazakhstan was a country that became a platform for large-scale experiments: a change of social structure and a sharp transition of nomads to sedentary life, the construction of a cosmodrome in the steppes, the launch of a man into space, testing of nuclear weapons. The usual horizon of the endless steppe closed the vertical towers, marking the progress.
A new generation of artists represented at this exhibition has not met life in the USSR, but grew up in an environment where the trail of slowly escaping Sovietism still exists, where the experience of living in a communist project emerges as a phantom flicker of images about the collective dream of space exploration, portraits of the living and at the same time photos of the dead Lenin.
The period of the collapse of the Soviet Union can also be considered as a starting point in the appearance of Kazakhstani modern art. At that time, following a sharp geopolitical impetus and the emergence of a number of new independent republics, artists whose work did not coincide with the ideals of the party came out of basements and close apartment exhibitions. Saying goodbyeto the hegemony of social realism, artists began to occupy a special role in the reflection on complex social and political changes.
With the completion of the Soviet project, the end of utopia, which never the less has not yet arrived, today we can conclude that a new generation of Kazakhstan is is also a product of this permanent laboratory. Being carriers of hybrid identity, this new tribe is in a certain sense mutants, still retaining the agency of each of the stages of the transformation process.
In the theory of generations, differences between generations are presented as common grounds for a certain age group, of which the authors Strauss and How, draw conclusions about common beliefs, values and behaviors among people who grew up in one historical period. This largely Eurocentric theory considers global historical processes, focusing on the history of America as a universal model, but this approach does not take into account the local as the view of the other, excluded from world history.
This raises the question of how to present a generation outside the universal concept, seeking to build a harmonious narrative excluding everything that does not fit into it. Answering this question, the “First Contact” exhibition presents a multitude of individual stories that, intersecting, build a common network like a cloud of keywords. Listening to the voice of each artist individually, you can catch unobvious connections, general semiotics, signs and language that have yet to be deciphered.” - Anvar Musrepov