Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek Djumaliev
Bishkek ~ Kyrgyzstan
2010 Prince Claus Laureates Gulnara Kasmalieva (1960, Bishkek) and Muratbek Djumaliev (1965, Bishkek) are cultural catalysts in the Central Asian region, which is in many respects a Zone of Silence. Their practice embodies the transition from a deeply rooted tradition of art making towards the use of contemporary languages. Graduates of Kyrgyz State College of Fine Art, they accessed international ideas when studying in Russia during the period of perestroika. Returning to Bishek they experimented with new technologies and developed documentary-style videos and photography that provide unprecedented representations of Kyrgyzstan’s passage to independence and the impact of Soviet-era legacies on life and identity. Their extensive practice includes the seminal video installation A New Silk Road: Algorithm of Survival and Hope (2006), documenting contemporary experiences along the historical trade route as it encounters rapid globalisation. They weave different perspectives together, picking up on popular visual culture, showing local reinvention and adaptations, and bringing the new nation-states together in an innovative exposé of intersecting frontiers of reality. At ArtEast, the cultural centre they run in Bishek, Kasmalieva and Djumaliev are active as curators and leaders with a mission to stimulate the next generation. They provide gallery space for regional and international exhibitions, courses in contemporary theory, practice and art management, access to media equipment, workshops, networking and collaborations, enabling young artists to get in touch with artists, curators and critics in other contexts. Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev are awarded for their groundbreaking art practices, for their significant contribution to contemporary culture in Central Asia, for establishing a space of freedom and opportunity for young artists, and for creating original representations of the intersections of different realities.