“Beyond Fragmentation: Contemporary Collage from Central Asia” Exhibition

Sapar Contemporary

poster for  “Beyond Fragmentation: Contemporary Collage from Central Asia” Exhibition

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Essay by Kris Imants Ercums, Curator of Global Contemporary and Asian Art, Spencer Museum of Art

Sapar Contemporary in collaboration with Aspan Gallery (Almaty) is pleased to present Beyond Fragmentation: Contemporary Collage from Central Asia. Since antiquity, Central Asia has been a nexus of trade and cultural exchange, where caravans laden with precious goods crisscrossed the desert sands along the Silk Road carrying with them new religions like Buddhism and Islam. Renowned geographer Owen Lattimore (1900–1989) characterized Central Asia as the “Pivot of Asia,” for its importance in shaping and directing global history and cultural exchange.During the nineteenth century, in a conflict dubbed “The Great Game,” the British and Russian Empires jostled over this region, which spans from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, for supremacy over this politically strategic territory rich in natural resources.

Today, Central Asia is a region comprised of a diverse ethnic mixture of diasporic communities and indigenous nomadic tribes, the names of which– Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Tajik, and Uzbek­–combined with the Persian suffix “stan” or “land of” to form the five countries that comprise this region. The assemblage art of collage is an ideal artistic technique for encapsulating not only the fragmented cultural multiplicity of Central Asia, but also its complex and multifaceted history. While collage, from the French word coller “to glue,” has a long history dating back to invention of paper in China around 200 BCE, it was in the twentieth century that collage assumed its significance as a quintessential modernist artistic technique for expressing relevant, contemporary issues. The assemblage of multiple layers and fragmented images in collages produce new concepts and ideas from unexpected juxtaposition, that in the process engender new possibilities and meanings. From the photomontage of Vyacheslav Akhunov to the gif-animations of Saule Dyussenbina Beyond Fragmentation offers insight into the geopolitical realities of contemporary Central Asia.

Kris Imants Ercums received his PhD from the University of Chicago, and has been Curator of Global Contemporary and Asian Art at the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas since 2007. Recently he completed a researcher residency at the Korean National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Aspan Gallery is a leading contemporary art gallery based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The gallery’s mission is to represent and support multidisciplinary work by Central Asian artists through exhibitions, publications, residencies and educational programs. In 2015 the gallery initiated a series of mid-career retrospectives of Central Asian contemporary artists, held jointly with the Kasteev Museum, Almaty. These are the first museum shows in Central Asia of artists who, although internationally acclaimed, are little known in their home countries. The first exhibition of Meldibekov’s work ‘Eternal Return’ curated by Viktor Misiano was named by the press as the most significant cultural event in Kazakhstan for the last several years. The second exhibition of Vorobyevs’ work ‘The Artist Is Asleep’ attracted even more critical and public attention and was reviewed in Frieze and Art Asia Pacific magazines. Subsequently Vorobyevs’ eponymous installation was exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale. It was the first time a Central Asian artist was shown in the biennale’s main project.

SAPAR Contemporary Gallery + Incubator is the brainchild of Raushan Sapar and Nina Levent. SAPAR Contemporary’s artists span three generations and five continents. They engage in global conversations and develop vocabularies that resonate as strongly in Baku, Almaty and Istanbul as they do in New York, Berlin, Paris and Mexico City. Their artistic practices vary from meditative traditional ink painting to writing programming code; what connects them are the artists’ capacity for empathy, insight, and imagination; their whimsy and generosity of spirit; and the rigor and depth of their studio practice.



from January 11, 2019 to February 16, 2019

Opening Reception on 2019-01-11 from 18:00 to 20:00

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