Tashkent Biennale – 2003 – results and perspectives

Issue #1 • 1757

In October 2003, in Tashkent was held the 2nd Tashkent Biennale – 2003 with promotion of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan and Tashkent City Khokimiyat, which were initiators of Biennale – 2001. 58 participants and guests from 21 countries took part in this significant art action.

The International Jury included: Chaitman – Dr. Andrey Nakov (France) – a famous art critic; Prof. Loreto Cicero (Italy) – Academia di Belle arti Aldo Galli, Komo; Franz Frei (Switzerland) – art critic; Han Hyun Sam (Korea) – Chairman of Art Association; Masut Fatkhulin (Russia) – Chairman of Executive Committee of International Confederation of Unions of Artists and Djavlon Umarbekov (Uzbekistan) – Academician of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, National Artist of Uzbekistan.

On October 6, at the Central Exhibition Hall, where was held the exhibition, before the enormous audience Tashkent Biennale – 2003 finalized its work. Grand – prix was given to Ulav Djaparov (Kyrgyzstan), the 1st prize for original interpretation of national traditions was given to Sergey Alibekov (Uzbekistan); the 2nd prize for original conceptual solution of art ideas – to Mohamed Aly Mahmoud Nassra (ARE). Special prizes of the International Jury were given to: Stanley Charles Wentworth (Great Britain), Pantaleo Creti (Italy), Akhmed Akhat (Kazakhstan), Yu Mei Chen (Taiwan), Chang Kil – Hwan (Korea), Bahrom Ismatov (Tadjikistan), Kanak Chanpa Chakma and Mohammad Shahidullah (Bangladesh) and Faizullah Ahmadaliev (Uzbekistan).

Djamal Usmanov (Uzbekistan) was awarded a special prize of the International Confederation of Unions of Artists – ICUA (Russia, Moscow). ICUA diplomas were given to Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud Soliman (ARE), Said Atabekov (Kazakhastan), Kim Ghil – Sang (Korea), Aleksandra Gieraga (Poland), Bahram Ismatov (Tadjikistan), Maxim Smirenomudrensky (Russia), Vyacheslav Useinov and Babur Ismailov (Uzbekistan).

We are pleased to propose to attention of our readers some materials about the exhibition and impressions of its organizers, participants and members of the jury.

Kuziev Tursunali, Chairman of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan:
Tashkent Biennale is the most significant event in cultural life of our country. It has no precedent in our region and CIS countries in a whole. Therefore, we can say that experience we have obtained from this action is unique. Artists of the republic have the opportunity to be acquainted with global art process thanks to the works of the masters from 20 countries presented at the exhibition. In this way, we form proper conditions for solution of topical, for many countries, problem – the problem of integration into world cultural space. The exhibition of such scope prepares all required for that premises.

Akhmedova Nigora – Director and Curator of Biennale, Doctor of Arts:
As a curator of the exhibition, I would like to note that its idea is to expose the contemporary art tendencies, which gradually involve the artists of Uzbekistan. Naturally, all of us realize that our Biennale is still very young and we have no opportunity to invite stars of contemporary art. However, a list of the last exhibition, in comparison with the 1st Biennale is much more interesting, not just thanks to extension of its geography. It involved new names. For example, Stanley Charles Wentworth from Great Britain – a famous pop-artist, participant of prestige Venice and Rotterdam biennales, Mohamed Aly Mahmoud Nassra from Egypt, Anna Zadros Hansen from Denmark and Said Atabekov from Kazakhstan. The other participants, such as Ahmed Akhat, Jamol Usmanov and Elena Kambina presented, I think, very interesting projects, where they succeeded in new technologies and forms to express their creative searches. New was that first within the program of Biennale were presented works in video – art, which development is forthcoming in Uzbekistan. At the same time, Biennale revealed that we are still short of experience and technical facilities for its representation. This issue requires to be solved.

The other biennales, for example the 8th Istanbul one, where I took part and could see its arrangement, spend much money on expensive facilities for reproduction of video – art. Practically speaking, this is different kind of art and curators of many biennales do not invite artists working in traditional genres of painting. Each biennale has its own individual tasks and principles, and this is a normal fact. As for results, they give both an impulse to theoretical ideas and for researching practice. At the exhibition, we could see realization of general logics of world art development and specific features of regions and schools. In the countries of the West having developed traditions of historical avant – garde, contemporary art follows the strategy of permanent sea change of art and world with their hardened concepts.

The artists orient to “speech” experiments, with assurance involving means, which before were out of the field of art. Many schools of our region and oriental countries, on the contrary, preserve traditions, correlate themselves with ancient cultural models and accept innovations just in the connection with the first ones. They have their own way going to panhuman values. We think that in the circumstances of escalating globalization this is one of possible ways to preserve own identification. I wish to our artists to receive contemporary art tendencies and to think over new opportunities for creativity, as it is said “everything is just starting”.

Nakov Andrey – Chairman of the International Jury, Doctor of Arts, art critic. France.
With great enthusiasm, I have accepted the invitation to take part in Biennale as Chairman of the International Jury. Tashkent Biennale has an important task – to approve new ideas and promising tendencies, which influence the entire region.

After talks with foreign participants I have realized how much important for them is to study your country and its unique culture. Not long ago we knew this region not well. Interesting is that many countries, which earlier were on the periphery of art, now organize international exhibitions and draw attention of international public, so breaking their isolation. Traditional centers of art are switching, art dialogues took place in different countries and this is a positive trend. Though Tashkent Biennale is “young” and has no history, I would like to point out that it is attractive by its idea and humanistic orientation. I hope this tradition will have the future, and a number of participants will permanently grow.

Masut Fatkulin, Chairman of Executive Committee of International Confederation of Artists’ Commonwealth, Russia:
For the second consecutive time I am a member of Biennale’s jury. I would like to note that this year I have enjoyed the section of participants from Uzbekistan. It is integral and have well considered general concept that meets requirements of our days. One of topical problems of modern art process is combination of traditions and global tendencies in development of art. Nobody has still clearly determined how to combine them. I think the Uzbekistan’s artists with competence are following this way. Anyhow, their searches would excite everybody.

Today, anti – global movement has become worldwide – each nation wants to preserve its roots and culture. Progress of science and technology causes unification of the human society and life standards – all of us drive similar cars and use similar housewares. However, on a background of this unification it cannot fail to be seen that each nation aspires to preservation of cultural originality, traditions and arts. What solution does this problem find in creative work of the artists? How can be national elements interpreted in modern interior? In this regard, I would like to note the works of S. Alibekov. He was born in Uzbekistan. He feels local culture by heart, at the same time, he traveled a lot over the world and knows world tendencies of art. His works present combination of modern technologies and national traditions, ancient folk motives and his individual world vision. S. Alibekov has rich experience in cinema where he developed especial taste in composition and montage, what gives bright expressiveness to his works.

Interesting are the works of F. Ahmadaliev, largely coming from traditions: loess as a background and deep colour – from wall painting; mosaic pieces of colour and torrid earth, bright dresses and fruit – ancient poetic forms transmitting a spirit of national culture. Another group, presented by L. Ibragimov and B. Ismailov, is following traditions of the miniature, but their works more imitate the source than creatively interpret it. This way is not new, but anyhow has a right to be.

Aspiration to self – identification is a specific feature of development of young national cultures. Meanwhile, it has many variants of development, sometimes paradoxical. For example, in Greece the artists do not turn to antique cultural traditions, what seems logic. They have their own path, determined by logics of their own, individual mentality. All over the world, among artists we can observe growth of interest to new forms. Basing on new technologies, sometimes they forget their roots, what brings their art to cosmopolitism. How much is the new necessary? It is not a secret that new forms of art topically express requirements of the society. Obviously, new directions have right – to – life, but I do not advocate ones denying classics and traditions. Art cannot develop denying accumulated cultural values.

In general, I would like to note: the Uzbekistan’s artists have sincere wish to search for harmony of modernity and ancient traditions. They are active in their searches and reach successes.

Franz Frei, a member of Jury, art critic, Switzerland:
Biennale exhibitions long ago became traditional in international practice. Such actions were held in such cities as Venice, Istanbul, Berlin, Rome etc. Uzbekistan has specific geographical location on the Great Silk Road. This fact has found original reflection in Tashkent Biennale.

Success of biennale depends on well – run cultural contacts with different countries. Uzbekistan situated in the center of Asia has the opportunity to set contacts with such countries as Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, China, Korea, Japan and Arabian countries. It was gratifying to me that the works presented at Biennale were of a high level and among the artists from CIS countries are true masters. For example, the works of the artists from Moldova present many interesting art solutions. Interesting is the work presented by the artist from Kazakhstan, which contemporarily exposed gestures and image of shamans. Wonderful are works presented by the Uzbek artists. Meanwhile, some of them define art as beauty. I think, it is not fully correct in the context of modem problems concerning everybody – ecology, globalization, terrorism etc.

Thousands of artists are working all over the world. However, just some of them are well known. The reason is that important thing is not just beauty but true reflection of events, processes and changes running in the world.

The artists from CIS countries enjoyed comfortable conditions created in the soviet period for their art activity as they served totalitarian ideology. Today, everything depends on their own activity. I liked the works by J. Usmanov, K. Babaev, E. Kambina and the other artists working in new technologies.

Ulan Djaparov, Kyrgyzstan:
Going to Tashkent I tried not to think about victory. The true award for artist is the opportunity to communicate each other, to meet and discuss our problems. It is not a secret that we are isolated from world art process. That is why I want Tashkent Biennale will become a regular event.

At the exhibition I represented three projects: installation “Felt sarcophagus” (authors: Ulan Djaparov, Adil Seitaliev with participation of Tamara Borubaeva; photo: Erkin Boljurov, Shailoo Djekshenbaev, Galina Turdieva), photo project “Escape” (author: Ulan Djaparov, photo by Alexander U), video project “Hard nut”. Felt sarcophagus and a theme of leaving connected with it form an important link in metamorphoses of the life: traditionally the nomad was born and lived in a felt yurt surrounded by subjects from felt, leather and wood, and leaving for the eternity he was muffled just with a piece of fabric. In our project Sarcophagus is a symbol of cocoon, cradle or boat starting its eternal floating. We tried to combine traditional, for our culture, ideas and modern means of expression.

Searches for new ways are very topical for the artists of Kyrgyzstan. Today, notable is differentiation of the artists: some of them represent official art serving the state, the other ones represent commercial orientation and at last, the third group creates alternative art, free in its searches. The last group has determined their approach to traditions: it is not interesting just to duplicate traditional ways – new and individual approach is vitally necessary.

As for the artists of Uzbekistan, I think, they are often captured by stereotypes; their pictures expose idyll, what is not fully true, first of all, towards themselves. I wish my colleagues to ease their refusal from stereotypes and to be free in their individual self – expression.

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