The Palace of Justice
Safety cone, fluorescent light, hidden illustration, flowers, sound (stereo, 9:00)
For their collaborative artwork, Melia Roger and Marina Gafurova looked at the topic of sayfty in the cities they live in, and how their daily lives are affcted by it. Mélia Roger writes:
"I live in front of the future “Polizei- und Justizzentrum Zürich”. I moved this summer and since then, the sounds of the cranes rhythm my days. Since the beginning of winter, the bright light inside this empty building draws a large shadow in my room. The shadow of fear, the shadow of instability, the shadow of security and safety. Have you ever felt unsafe ?
That’s the question I asked Marina, who lives with her two sons in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Have you ever felt insecure ?
Marina sent me pictures of the grills that protect everyone's windows. But in the streets, the pavement is full of holes, because people steal the metal rolls covering the canalisation. Last summer, a famous ice skater, Denis Ten, was murdered because he tried to stop two guys stealing his car’s mirrors. This drama affected the entire country.
The sounds you hear were recorded in Zurich, close to the construction site of this future Police and Justice Centre. They resonate in skating rink. You can hear Marina’s boys laughing. They are safe at home. In the security cone, you can whisper your own crimes. But if you look inside, you will see some of Marina’s illustrations, also shown in Almaty."
For her artwork in Almaty, Marina Gafurova covered a three-legged stool in security tape. Whilst the stool was accessible to the public, nobody could sit on it without falling down.
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3-channel video, variable dimensions, live performance
The performance is an experimental piece which explores the density of moments in war by contrasting a hardly moving body to its brisk projection. The traditional Kurdish scarves, the so-called puşis come out as echoes of gun shots and the voices of lives taken. The emerging palette of coloured scarves expands in space and plays with fate in time’s disparity.
FOR YOUR SAFETY ONLY
TEK SIZDIŃ QAÝIPSIZDIGIŃIZ ÚSHIN
VETËM PËR SIGURINË TUAJ
in Almaty: video recording of manipulated TV
in Zurich: visual coding, pillow, prints, tv-monitor
In 2018, as the Internet has become a safer place for the majority of the world's population, citizens of Kazakhstan are not only accustomed to, but also reconciled with spontaneous violations of human rights. Daily blockings of networks and strict censorship are often justified by the state as "care for citizens". An ultrahigh frequency generator suddenly turns on several times per hour, interrupting the whole system - a continuous traffic of formulas and oscillators working hard only for the heart of the information field of the country. Internet pumps blood, and information is blood itself. Everything is transparent now and the citizen can watch the confrontation from the cheap seats: Tension between the oppressor's deliberate actions and its immediate reaction to itself – in the form of a friendly reminder that everything is under control – grows aggressively. This project is a deceitful game of war led by general generator, which devours itself just as antibodies attack healthy cells, just as oroboros eating it’s own tail. This is a specially programmed, artificially created brain of a schizophrenic who tries to play healthy and goes above and beyond so nobody could caught it in deception. It tries so hard that it goes too far with national symbols. Darning gaps with them and filling in inconvenience, wasting time of it’s beloved children that it "cares" about.
shirt, fabric hardener, questions, 6 photos
This is a crossword pyjama without hints, shaped like a mountain chain. This piece of clothing was made in Vietnam, designed in Europe, worn in the Soviet Union, found in a second-hand shop in Almaty, taken to Zurich, then taken back to Almaty and then to Zurich again. The journey of the shirt was documented in the Almaty side of the exhibition, whilst the shirt was shown in Zurich. Reflecting on its journey, the mountain-shaped clothing relates to a current ecological dispute in Almaty: the Kok Zhailau plateau, an important natural ressource in a national park, is threatened by construction plans for a ski resort. In spite of generating many protests, the construction plans are still active. Suinbike writes: "We have come together to save the Kok Zhailau plateau of the Ile-Alatau State National Natural Park from an invasive and un-ecological construction project. We are calling upon anyone in the world that cares about nature, the ecological preservation of habitats, and a sustainable approach to co-habiting this world with other species, to sign this petition."
2 printed memes, framed in golden frames
Soc-realism (or socialist realism) is a form of modern realism imposed in Russia by Stalin following his rise to power after the death of Lenin in 1924. This painting style is characterised by rigorously optimistic pictures of Soviet life in a realist style. Any pessimistic or critical element was banned. This is the crucial difference to social realism, which would often depict the struggles of the labour class. Meanwhile, outside the Soviet Union, socialist artists produced much freer interpretations of the genre. Memes are a popular Internet phenomenon, units of cultural information which change and mutate with each iteration. They are popular among all kinds of Internet users and are mostly anecdotal.Both artists had worked with the meme phenomenon previously in their practice: Denys Shantar curates an Instagram account (@wonderlandartmemes), which merges classical Western art and modern Internet English slang in a burlesque ironic manner. Suinbike has an ongoing project (Meme-Manifesto), which she started with Aida Issakhankyzy in 2017. Meme-Manifesto studies art-activism in Kazakhstan's virtual spaces. Both Denys and Suinbike identify as post-soviet kids and share similar memories full of socialist realistic art, which claims that eventually, everything will be great and that time is an eternity.
Alive, Dead and Bloody Furious
The three artists explored three different states of being in this video, starting with this quote on Schroedinger's Cat by Terry Pratchett: «In fact, the mere act of opening the box will determine the state of the cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be in: these being Alive, Dead and Bloody Furious.» The expansion of the results takes a step away from the binary thinking system and emotionalizes the scenario. The third determination opens another level of reaction of a subordinated animal which is used for a fictional experiment. The collaborative artwork focuses on this and adds a new dimension. It began with its title „Dead, Alive and Bloody Furious“ by giving three unconnected interpretations. Each one is a 30 seconds sequence and formed by the individual artist’s association. Shamiran Istifan applied it to the response to reality of lower class men, Tamina Ospanova on exlporing the state of imaginary stability and Dana Iskakova on children’s games.
"It is my party and I will cry if I want to"
3 printed posters, 29x42cm, free posters on the ground
Poster 1: On the 18th of July 2018, in one of the central districts of Almaty, the Kazakhstani-Korean figure skater and Olympic medal winner Denis Ten was killed. He was killed after trying to stop a group of thieves, who tried to pull off the side mirrors of a car.
Poster 2: On the 8th of March 2018 the local community of feminists were called out and prohibited from celebrating international women's day on the streets of Almaty. They were followed and put on record by police.
Poster 3: On the 16th of December 1986, crowds of Kazakhstani students attended a demonstration against the Soviet government which tried to appoint the head of state from Moscow. They asked to have a head of a state who would be a Kazakh or someone from Kazakhstan. The peaceful demonstrators were forcibly arrested, beaten up and tortured in the police offices. Students were expelled from their degrees, and some were imprisoned, killed or deported to the outskirts of the city. The exact number of victims and the actions of law enforcement remain uninvestigated. The words on the poster are taken from the banners of demonstrators and from archival photographs. They have been mixed with the poem of Kazakh poet Mukhtar Shakhanov dedicated to this historical passage.
The Internet Is My Safe Place
5 prints of pencil drawings, 28x35 cm
Denys Shantar's pencil drawings mix pop-culture references with classical Christian imagery of saints, speculating of which saint might be the patron of what social media platform.
Blueprint My Future
print on coffe cup, poster
A fusion of snakes and coffee grounds are an approach to the past and future of the female role. The number of snake deities in ancient civilizations is vast and the artefacts representing them innumerable. All this points to our close relationship with the snake, serpent and dragon - which were generally regarded as the same. They were seen as benevolent, before being negatively coded mostly with the influence of Abrahamic religions in the Middle East. One of the most popular ancient deities of the region is called Shahmaran. She is represented as half woman and half snake. Shahmaran was almost erased by ideologies of masculine power, but the artist found her on a cup, in the corner of a small souvenir shop. Various women took a sip of a shared coffee from that cup and projected the collective future on it. The visualized prognosis contains phallic symbols of different sizes and snakes as spirals, men walking and women giving birth to a generation of wolves.
No Borders, No Nations
A collage series based on analogue pictures taken during the train journey from Zurich to Almaty. The faces of the passengers are whitened out, cloaking them in anonymity, effacing traces of belonging and identity.
"Memories sweep through my head like a high-speed train. Wagons of recollections, filled with occasional flashes of recognition. Looking through the window, TV screen, or viewfinder of the camera - a piece of cardboard on the subjective and reflective inner world. A message consisting of the chaos of pictures and stories united by a system of sign coding." Sergey Atamanov took photographs through a cardboard cutout on the journey between Zurich an Almaty. This video pieces these fleeting moments together.