ArtEast and Cascoland, 'the real Kirgizian artists'

September 2009 -

''If you just look at the things from a different perspective, everything starts to change. Stereotypes disappear.'' This statement was made by Bermet Borubaeva, who is studying with the School of Contemporary Arts in Bishkek, Kirgizia. Twelve Kirgizian students and six artists from the Dutch Cascoland presented their 'interventions in the public space' during Boom-Boom, the fourth International Contemporary Art Exhibition in Bishkek, in August 2009.


Underground intervention by Nargiz Chynalieva and Oksana Kapishnikova

The Kirgizian artists collective ArtEast started the School of Contemporary Arts in January. Muratbek Jumaliev of ArtEast: ''One of the objectives was to experience the function of art in the public space, through interventions with participation by the general public. I had no previous experience in this area, so we invited Cascoland to give a workshop.''

''We wanted to show students how to communicate with their audience,'' says Roel Schoenmakers of Cascoland. ''With a painting or statue, the communication is one-way traffic. When you work in the public space, with the general public participating, it is much more direct. The public offers an immediate response to the artist and his work.''

Maksat Bolotbekov and Nazgul Kuvatbekova print T-shirts for the public. Schoenmakers: "Presidential elections had been held the previous week, albeit with only one real candidate: the incumbent president. Everywhere you looked there were billboards and T-shirts printed 'Bakiev, the real president'. During the intervention, you could have a T-shirt printed in the same style as the presidential campaign with your own name. And underneath, with 'the real ...........', you could print whatever you wanted. In exchange, the recipient had to give something personal to the students. Days later people could still be seen wearing the T-shirts throughout the city.”

The intervention by Nargiz Chynalieva and Oksana Kapishnikova was an underground event. Nargiz Chynalieva: "Even an underground passage, a place without a face, can become a location for contemporary art. People who have worked there for decades became aware of their importance and the importance of the place where they spend most of their time. It was like recognition of their years of work."

Schoenmakers: "The responses from the public were extremely direct and honest, widely varying and unexpected. Strong emotions: from anger because a woman was portrayed in a Muslim building milking a cow, to joy: people with tears in their eyes because they loved the work. Hundreds of people experienced the public space that they use every day in a different way that day".

The School for Contemporary Art in Kyrgizia is supported by ArtsCollaboratory. Nomadicity by Cascoland can be seen in the Netherlands until 18 October 2009 during Trailer-Park at the Kunstfort near Vijfhuizen.