Said Atabekov 66 Lbs – solo show
March 06th – May 12th, 2017
Curator I.Y. Bourmistrova
Said Atabekov – a true star of contemporary art scene in Kazakhstan and internationally.
Solo show 66 Lbs by Said Atabekov, curated by I.Y. Bourmistrova, will feature photo, video and site – specific installation to reflect on ancient nomadic tradition of Kazakhstan the game of Kokpar. Kokpar is a Kazakh game played on horseback in which two teams compete to carry a headless goat carcass over the goal line.
The title of the exhibition 66 Lbs is coming from mandatory weight of the animal carcass used for the game and cannot be just any weight. Heft is mandatory! It must weigh 66 pounds.
Battle scenes have been with us for a long time and usually commemorate the decisive turning point of a battle and serve as the agrandissement of the warfare and celebration of mythological or actual victories. Florentine painter Ucello and his famous Battle of San Romano introduced a new subject into 15th century Renaissance art – the battle, the painting of an actual event. There were of course much earlier examples like the mosaic from Pompeii dated first century BC representing the battle of Alexander the Great against King Darius (III) as well as the illuminated pages from the Shahnama (Book of Kings).
What is always palpable in battle scenes through the mess, squalor and the sheer disorganisation of the battle is a visual emphasis on the union between the riders and horses, sometimes with bleeding torn bodies, continuing to do battle even as the rider insists to continue in battle.
Battle scenes on horses are almost an extinct genre of art partly because the horse is no longer significant as an implement of war. The solo exhibition 66 Lbs by Said Atabekov reintroduces this genre back in to the contemporary field. The series of photographic works depicting the national game of Kokpar with its roots which run deep into warfare became a conceptual resource for the artist to showcase this Central Asian sport in all its complexity.
Kokpar is a Kazakh game played on horseback in which two teams compete to carry a headless goat carcass over the goal line. The origins of the game Kokpar are thought to date back to the time of Alexander the Great, when the nomadic horsemen fought against Alexander’s Army. The game is also sometimes associated with Genghis Khan.
The game of Kokpar was always a very popular theme among the Kazakhstan’s master painters who wanted to depict this national sport and capture the thrill of the game and the bravery of its participants. Among the best examples are paintings to be found in the National Museum of Art in Almaty by Kanafiya Telhanov, Eugene Sidorkin, Salihitdin Aitbaev and many others.
Said Atabekov follows this tradition and speaks loudly about the source of masculine power and proclaims his adherence to the ancient practices of the nomads. But the difference between him and his predecessors is he is no longer an outsider peacefully painting in his studio. His interrogation of the ritual starts when he becomes a part of the game. Like a true nomad he is there among the fighters and his camera captures their strong emotions and follows the intensity of their frantic action.
Sometimes his viewpoint is on – high, the God – like perspective turns riders to a mass of atomised cells captured in a dramatic moment, as they collide with each other vying for the heavy carcass. However Atabekov’s camera is never too static and he is also exploring smaller narratives by changing his viewpoint closer to the participants with their eyes gazing out towards the battlefield, spiritually composed with no signs of fear.
The 66 Lbs series of photos is archetypal of Atabekov’s photographic eye which scans this Central Asian sport in all its complexity. While his work addresses specific traditions that seem to belong to a different era it has a universal appeal to feelings and ideas surrounding ritual and identity.
Although `only a game', the strategies of Kokpar competition transfer so readily to politics, alliance building, notions of success and survival. The powerful imagery of the photographic series 66 Lbs by S. Atabekov portrays an ancient power game where both tribal and individual actions are elevated to a larger significance for understanding dramatic games of power in the vastly changed local, regional, national, and global contexts since the end of the Soviet Empire.
Said Atabekov bio
Said Atabekov (b1965) has been acknowledged internationally for his mix of ethnographic signs, recollections of the Russian avant – garde and post – Soviet global interferences. S. Atabekov was a founding member of the Kyzyl Traktor (Red Tractor Group), the first avant-garde art collective established in the 1980s in Kazakhstan. Both as an individual artist and as a member of Kyzyl Tractor the artist has participated in many international forums such as 51st and 52nd Venice Biennale. He took part in the exhibition Migrasophia at Sharjah Museum curated by Sarah Rasa; Art Dubai Marker section curated by Slavs and Tatars and most recently Life is a legend at Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasburg, France.
S. Atabekov lives and works in Shymkent, Kazakhstan.
1965 – born in Bes – Terek (Uzbekistan)
1988 – 1992 – Kasteev Art College, Shymkent, Kazakhstan
2015 – Wolves of The Steppes, Artwin Gallery, Moscow, Russia
2011 – The Dream of Gengis Khan, Laura Bulian Gallery, Milano, Italy
2009 – Son of the East, Laura Bulian Gallery, Milano, Italy
2007 – Way to Rome, The Soros Center for Contemporary Art, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Selected group exhibitions:
2015 – The Migrant (Moving) Image – A Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam, Netherland
2015 – Walk in Asia, Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo, Japan
2015 – Life is a Legend, Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Strasbourg, France
2015 – Too Early, Too Late, Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Italy
2014 – The Other & Me, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE
2014 – The Empty Pedestal, Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna, Italy
2014 – Art Dubai, UAE
2013 – No-mad-nes In No Man's Land, Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
2013 – At the Crossroads: Contemporary Art from the Caucasus and Central Asia, Sotheby´s, London, England
2012 – Migrasophia, Maraya Art Centre, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
2012 – The Eye is a Lonely Hunter: Images of Human Kind – Grimmuseum, Berlin
2012 – Face of the Bride, Permm Museum of Contemporary Art, Permm, Russia
2011 – Between Heaven and Earth, Contemporary Art from the Centre of Asia, Calvert 22 Foundation, London,
2011 – 54th International Art Exhibition, Biennale di Venezia, La Biennale di Venezia, Italy
2010 – In-Difesa, Foundation 107, Turin, Italy
2010 – Rites Without Myths, Laura Bulian Gallery, Milano, Italy
2009 – Photoquai 2009, Paris Photographic Biennale, France
2009 – East of Nowhere: Contemporary Art from Post-Soviet Central Asia, Foundation 107, Turin, Italy
2008 – Destination Asia – Flying Over Stereotypes, Elementa Gallery, Dubai, UAE
2008 – Little Games Along The Silkroad, Florence, Italy
2008 – I Dream of the Stans: New Central Asian Video, Museo de Arte de El Salvador, San Salvador, USA
2007 – Marilena Astapellov, Art – Athina, Athens, Greece
2007 – 52nd International Art Exhibition, Biennale di Venezia, La Biennale di Venezia, Italy
2007 – La Biennale De Montreal, Montreal, Canada
2007 – The Paradox of Polarity: Contemporary Art from Central Asia, Bose Pacia Gallery, New York, USA
2006 – Free Waves, 10th Media Art Biennale, Los Angeles, USA
2006 – Contested Spaces of Post – Soviet Art, Sidney Miskin Gallery, New York, USA
2005 – La Sindrome di Tamerlano, Orvieto, Italy
2005 – 51st International Art Exhibition, Biennale di Venezia, La Biennale di Venezia, Italy
2005 – 9th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey
2004 – Video Identity, Soros Center for Contemporary Art, Almaty, Kazakhstan
2003 – 10th Prague Quadriennale, Prague, Czech Republic
2002 – No Mad’s Land, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany
2000 – Tranzedenz, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
2000 – Communication: Experience of Interaction, Soros Center for Contemporary Art, Almaty, Kazakhstan
2007 – Vermont Studio Center, Vermont, USA
2011 – Laureate of the Prince Claus Award, Amsterdam, Netherlands