FROM THE 5TH MARDIN BIENNIAL ARTISTS ALMAGUL MENLİBAYEVA

Born in 1969 in Kazakh Soviet Republic of USSR, video artist and photographer Almagul Menlibayeva (@ almagul.menlibayeva ) lives and works between Germany and Kazakhstan. She works primarily in multi-channel video, photography, and mixed media installation. Нer work addresses such critical issues as social, economic, and political transformations in Central Asia, de-colonial re-imaginings of gender, environmental degradation through the lens of the nomadic and indigenous cosmologies and mythologies.
 
All images courtesy: the artist

ALMAGUL MENLİBAYEVA

KAZAKİSTAN / ALMANYA


AI Realism. Qantar, 2022. Nine prints on paper, 40 cm x 40 cm.
Supported by: American-Eurasian Art Advisors

Hailing from a political context that birthed the first major anti-nuclear movement, Nevada Semipalatinsk in 1989 and a cultural tradition that locates itself through the nomadic linguistics of guesting, Almagul Menlibayeva addresses critical issues pertaining to social, economic, and political transformations in Central Asia, de-colonial re-imaginings of gender, and environmental degradation through the lens of feminist historiography, ethno-cosmism and nomadic futurism.

The nine frames of  AI Realism. Qantar use AI and the data available on the internet to reconstruct the 2022 Kazakh unrest or the January tragedy, as a countermeasure to the information warfare, fake news and conspiracy theories circulated by the secret police.

Transoxiana Dreams, 2011. HD video, 23 minutes.

Supported by: American-Eurasian Art Advisors

The film Transoxiana Dreams is a mythological account staged across the vast reaches of Menlibayeva’s native Kazakhstan, ravaged by 60 years of Soviet occupation. It leads the audience through the brutally transformed landscape of the Aral Sea to the devastation that is the Aralkum. Home to the region’s indigenous population, the Aralkum Desert was once the centre of a thriving fishing industry. The region has since been rendered into a waste devoid of water by radical Soviet irrigation policies in what is hailed as one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. Transoxiana Dreams is an oneiric projection of a world by a little girl who inhabits the site of this ecological disaster. Unfolding against the post-Soviet hyperreality of an expanding Aralkum where her father works as a fisherman, the dream poses a quest for the sea. The expedition winds through the former USSR’s top-secret Aralsk-7 biological weapons testing facility located on the Vozrozhdeniye Island, where they’re tried by composite creatures. Having overcome these temptations comparable to those recounted in the Bardo Thodol, or the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the fellowship is finally rewarded with a visitation from the sea.