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Kyrgyzstan Photos: Art Camp Taps Central Asian Traditions

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More than 30 artists from across Central Asia and from as far away as France and Turkey gathered on the southern shore of Kyrgyzstan’s Lake Issyk-Kul earlier this month to share some creative juices. Besides painting and sculpture, they produced installations and performances, and undertook joint photography shoots.

Organized by the Bishkek-based NGO B-Art Center, the weeklong “Nomadic Art Camp” culminated in a July 13 exhibition at the National Art Museum in Bishkek and a jam session at the Hyatt Hotel featuring local and foreign musicians (including yours truly, Kide from the Jeans Community).

Shaarbek Amankul, head of B-Art Center, told EurasiaNet.org that he has organized the Nomadic Art Camp annually since 2009. The main idea, Amankul said, is to recognize Central Asia’s cultural heritage as a source of inspiration for contemporary art.

“Bio-cultural Heritage and Diversity” was the theme this year. Participants explored how to fuse traditional Central Asian materials, such as felt and wood, with modern ideas.

For example, Tajik artist Daler Mikhtodzhov combined his interests in the region’s ecology and spirituality in a performance, Stairway to Heaven. In the YouTube video, he appears reading suras – Koranic verses – inside a wooden cage. But the cage is not just a trap: It’s actually a ladder, the rungs wrapped in yesterday’s newspapers. Later, a male performer covered in black oil contemplates escape.

Organizers plan to take the exhibits on a road trip around Kyrgyzstan and distribute a catalogue internationally.

Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan.

Kyrgyzstan Photos: Art Camp Taps Central Asian Traditions

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