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Zhanara Nauruzbayeva, Daniel Gallegos, Aminatou Echard, & Gaisha Madanova,
Transformation of Space in Almaty

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007
Mobile Aesthetics and Social Movements: Workshop, Worth-Ryder Gallery

2:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Polycentric Session, UC-Berkeley, Townsend Center for the Humanities
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We present our project called “Transformation of Space in Almaty” about the post-socialist Central Asian city undergoing rapid urban development during the 21st century. We explore the nature of the transition of the city and culture by looking at the micro-fabric of the city. We zoom in and study the studios of artists as an integral part of the city. We participate in the everyday life and work of artists to understand how they inhabit the city. Through this project, we create value in the old communities and neighborhoods that are being torn down without any consideration about their value to the present and future generations.

In this project, we combine art and anthropology. As anthropologists, we have spent extensive time visiting artists’ studios, talking to artists and participating in their daily lives. As artists, we have re-interpreted the collected material and filtered it through our artistic visions.

The project consists of a multi-media installation and web-blog (http://artpologist.net). The August exhibit in Almaty at the Soros Center for Contemporary Art featured video installation, photo installation, painting and drawing installation and anthropological field-notes installation by four authors: Gaisha Madanova, Daniel Gallegos, Zhanara Nauruzbayeva, and Aminatou Echard. The blog is a documentation of the daily work for our project from the beginning of our fieldwork and until the exhibit opening.

Participant Bios:
Zhanara Nauruzbayeva (Kazakhstan) is a PhD candidate in cultural and social anthropology at Stanford University (USA). Her research subject is the transformation of the creative intelligentsia since the end of the Soviet period. She investigates this question through ethnographic attention to daily practices of how creative people live and work in Almaty. She has been working with the artist community in Almaty, Kazakhstan for the past year.

Daniel Gallegos (USA) is an artist from Oakland, California who works with drawing and painting. His subject of investigation is the relationship between architecture and class. He uses painting and drawing as a means of creating installations of environments. Daniel’s current series of paintings uses an ethnographic approach to gain better understanding of the Soviet modernist architecture of Almaty.

Aminatou Echard (France) is an artist who works with experimental film and video installations. Her concern is how space transforms people and how people inhabit spaces. She conveys this idea by exploring the relationship between sound and image. Fieldwork is a crucial element in her artistic practice. After four years of working in Bolivia in ethnomusicology, she has started a new stage in Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) where she has already spent four months in 2006 by collecting images and sounds to gain an understanding of the specific relationship between spaces and people.

Gaisha Madanova (Kazakhstan) is a third-year student at the faculty of Architecture in the Almaty College of Construction and Management. In spring 2007, she worked as a photographer in an artist residence in the Cité internationale des arts in Paris.