by JC Gonzo
Amongst post-Soviet industrial ruins and the vast, empty landscape of Kazakhstan, multi-dicisplinary artist Almagul Menlibayeva turns the camera on herself (and the occasional other) to unite an ancestral past beyond the introverted realms of “the personal” and into a hive-minded futurist perspective. The now Berlin-based artist mixes traditional culturally signifying objects with the props of a nomad – furs, textiles, luggage – becoming beyond herself as the mystical and anthropomorphic voice of an exotic past.
Menlibayeva simultaneously defines and blurs the lines of cultural identity as she personifies (and therefore embodies) it, which seems appropriate considering her nation of origin no longer exists, and Kazakhstan’s place in the global mindset lies somewhere in between Russia and Asia and is therefore difficult to categorize. With a sense of displacement, or rather, search of a new identity, Menlibayeva explores the “nature of a specific Egregore, a shared cultural psychic experience, which manifests itself as a specific thought-form among the people(s) of the ancient, arid and dusty Steppes between the Caspian Sea, Baikonur and Altai in today’s Kazakhstan.”
Video excerpt from Djihad (2004):
Interview with Berlin Art Link: