PICK OF THE WEEK:: Almanac 2015: Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan continues to face a complex political landscape under President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country’s first and only post-Soviet leader, who has attracted widespread criticism for his policies. Despite being an ethnically multicultural and religiously diverse nation with plentiful natural resources, including oil and gas, the government offers few contemporary cultural activities and limited support for today’s artists. A rich cultural tradition in applied arts and music is upheld over fine arts, which were only introduced under direct Soviet rule, from the late 1930s to 1991.
The Soros Center for Contemporary Art, once the primary organization for artists, closed in 2009, limiting the domestic art scene’s activities. However, since 2013 the nonprofitInternational Art Development Association (IADA), based in the cultural capital of Almaty with a branch in Paris, has initiated exhibitions of Kazakh artists at home and abroad.