Set in the barren landscape of Kazakhstan, Almagul Menlibayeva’s perfectly staged photographs and video works are vibrant depictions of a country searching for the roots of its social identity.
Susceptible to both the eye of the camera and the landscape of her home country, in her works the Kazakh artist Almagul Menlibayeva revives Kazakhstan’s past, that was literally brushed aside, with the aid of young indigenous men and women. In photographs such as Madonna of the Great Steppes, Steppen Police or Foxy Charms alluring women in Soviet uniforms and Nomadic costumes pose in front of rusty shipwrecks and decaying concrete ruins scattered around the once fertile region of the Aral Sea, now dried up due to controversial irrigation projects of the Soviets.
Displaying allusions to shamanistic rituals paired with modern fashion culture the photographic works of Almagul Menlibayeva evolve around the reinvention of the independent Kazakhstan, which is still strongly shaped by an archaic way of life. Educated in a socio-realistic style at the art academy in Almaty, the Kazakh artist now lives in Berlin and Amsterdam. From the distance her works critically reflect on the impact of the new influences from Islamic culture and the economic boost on the image of women as well as Kazakhstan’s post-soviet crisis of identity.
– In my video performances I employ the language of so-called Romantic Punk Shamanism to express my vision and understanding of the surrounding world. This is a bearer of an animistic philosophy born in the depth of the heart of my culture that wants to impart its legacy to the technological society of globalisation, Almagul Menlibayeva says about her work.
See a selection of Almagul Menlibayeva’s work above. Watch a video portrait of the artist here.