Born 1960 and 1965, respectively, in Bishkek. They live and work in Bishkek.
The artists, curators and educators Kasmalieva and Djumaliev explore the harsh political and economic realities of their native Kyrgyzstan, highlighting the vitality that characterises the people of this turbulent region. Using photography, video and performance within a critical and conceptual framework, they unpack the multiple layers of Kyrgyz identity: the country’s traditional nomadic and shamanic roots, its recent Soviet Communist past, and its current global capitalist reality.
Transsiberian Amazons, shot during a tour through Siberia, portrays two elderly women who, out of necessity, trade and smuggle goods by train along the ancient Silk Road. Previously employed in the professional sector, these women and others like them have been forced to engage in small-scale illegal trade in order to support their families as a result of post-Soviet economic devastation.
The work of Kasmalieva and Djumaliev challenges the rules of art, flying in the face of what Djumaliev refers to as ‘the collective phobia, skepticism, and disappointment’ that dominates their surrounding environment. Combining the poetic with the political, they employ beautifully haunting imagery with minimal narrative structure in order to recount poignant tales of human struggle, determination and hope for a better future.
In Bishkek the artist couple run ArtEast art centre, which aims to re-establish and improve support for contemporary arts, art education and artists in Kyrgyzstan.
Notable recent exhibitions include a solo show at the Art Institute of Chicago (2007), A Global Table, Frans Hals Museum, De Hallen Haarlem, Haarlem, Scenographies of Power: the Designed Materialization of Spaces of Exception, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Breakout Sessions: Artist Takes at the People's Summit, Chicago (2017), 8th Asia-Pacific Triennale in Brisbane (2015), Lost to the Future at LASALLE College of Arts - ICA Singapore (2013), 9th Gwandju Biennale (2012), Time of the Storytellers at KIASMA in Helsinki (2007), Progressive Nostalgia at Luigi Pecci Centre in Prato (2007), Central Asia Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005).