Contemporary Public Art and Nation: Contesting “Tradition” in Post-Socialist Cultures and Societies

in Central Asian Affairs
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The contemporary art movement attempts to remain independent from official sources of power in order to generate ideas and discourses focusing on temporality and contemporaneity. In addition to art works and performances, some artists transmit their ideas through their public discussions and activism. But without a new value systems, a post-socialist society may fall into the trap of “inventing and re-inventing traditions,” and thus many social actors tend to block artists’ access to the discourses of temporality, “tradition,” nation, and gender. This article analyzes three instances where these “traditions” guided artistic discussions in the fields of sexuality, gender roles, and the sacredness of nation, which are all connected to the newly formed conservative values of the national and traditional that allow many nationalist conservatives to justify control over and criticism of independent cultural production.

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  • Askhat Akhmediyarov’s installation “Azhemnin Kozi” (Grandmother’s Eyes), July 2016 (Courtesy of Astana ArtFest).

    View in gallery
  • Askhat Akhmediyarov, “Azhemnin Kozi” (Grandmother’s Eyes) series, Dubai, uae (Courtesy of Askhat Akhmediyarov)

    View in gallery

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