My project focuses on a Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan. During the three months I spent in the countries, I strove to examine their social and cultural structures and establishments.
Kazakhstan is rather different from the other Post-Soviet states both in terms of their geographical location and history. Although it belongs to Asia, it still tries to establish a Westernized value system. In the past one hundred years, it has changed between three writing systems (Arabic, Latin, Cyrillic); the Kazakhs were a minority in their own homeland; they have survived famine, colonization, natural disasters; and, among all these, we are talking about a region that develops at an incredible pace. The country is rich in oil and natural resources, but due to the lack of suitable intellectual and economic capital, presently their markets are dominated by foreign investors. The change of regime having taken place in 1991, democracy is still ostensible: paranoia, the old habits, corruption, intimidation, and distrust are still palpable. Yet, there is a form of nationalism proliferating here, which is typical of the Post-Soviet states searching for their identities.
In my installation, I present fragments of the untouched landscape of the Kazakh Steppe, the areas affected by nuclear contamination, and of state awards. Visitors can see a page from a primary school workbook, and an image highlighted from a Kazakh family archive. I found these to be important because in the workbook the horizontal lines are supplemented by vertical lines that indicate how much the letters have to be slanted, which is a visual characteristic of the writing, and not a predetermined item. In addition, the three girls point to the changes in writing in the past 100 years. Until 1929 they used Arabic letters, which they replaced by Latin writing between 1929 and 1940 when they finally turned to Cyrillic writing.
I also created the object that could symbolize the last generation growing up in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic: most of the older people in this region have gold crowns on their teeth because during communism this was a way for them to preserve their wealth before being condemned to be a Kulak and having all of their possessions confiscated.
Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center Budapest, 13.02.2018 – 05.03.2018
© all rights reserved