Almagul Menlibayeva

Almagul Menlibayeva

Born 1969 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She lives and works in Berlin and Almaty.

Artist Statement

“My educational background is in the Soviet Russian, avant-garde school of Futurism, which I combine with the nomadic aesthetic of post-Soviet, contemporary Kazakhstan that I have been exploring in recent years through photographic and video work.

I use specific modes of expression in modern and contemporary art as a vehicle to investigate my personal archaic atavism as a certain mystical anthropomorphism. In other words, I explore the nature of a specific Egregore, a shared cultural psychic experience, which manifests itself as a specific form of thought among the people(s) of the ancient, arid and dusty Steppes between the Caspian Sea, Baikonur and Altai in today’s Kazakhstan.

In the Russian language, Archaic Atavism is personalised as a being — which points to and creates a different meaning. We are not just speaking about an idea or archaic element in the collective subconscious of a people, but about the embodiment of our archaic atavism, which becomes an active entity, just like a creature itself. Our archaic atavism is not just internalised, but also externalised. It is as if It, like a being, has been awakened by the post-Soviet experience of the indigenous Kazakh people, who are becoming their own after 80 years of Soviet domination and cultural genocide. Suddenly, It (Archaic Atavism) became interested in enculturation and in modern behaviors. It also began to have entertaining dialogues with the trans-national circulation of ideas in contemporary art.

For this dialogue, I have chosen the medium of video and photography, and like to work with the notion of memory and reality. My archaic atavism is interested in my video explorations in the Steppes and in post-Soviet Asia. By editing raw data and combining documentary and staged footage, I become Its voice, enabling a cultural exodus from long oblivion. My work raises metaphysical questions such as Who am I? and Where shall I go?; this (psychic) experience and perspective marks my artistic language.”

Almagul Menlibayeva’s recent solo shows include at Museum Arnhem in Arnhem (2019) and at the Grand Palais in Paris (2016). Among recent notable group shows As Though We Hid the Sun in a Sea of Stories at the Haus der Kulturen, Belin (2023), Thailand Biennale in Chiang Rai (2023), Sharjah Biennial 15 (2023), 7th Guangzhou Triennial (2023), Lahore Biennial 02 (2020), Elective Affinities at the NCCA in Moscow (2015), The Union of Fire and Water at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), 18th Sydney Biennale (2012), 1st Kyiv Biennale (2012).

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