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UNSW Art & Design and 4A presents: The Complexity of Contemporary Art in Central Asia

via Zoom Webinar: register in advance for this webinar here.

Join Thibaut de Ruyter, architect, curator and critic with moderator Paul Gladston for a discussion on the complexities of contemporary art in the 'Central Asia' region.

Asian studies in universities, museums dedicated to Asian artefacts and even tourism in Asia often start their geography somewhere in India or West China to end 4,000 kilometres further in Japan. Very few ethnological collections in Europe own pieces from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, countries that are usually brought together under the terminology of Central Asia. (Interestingly, the existence of a “centre” means that all that surrounds it becomes a periphery.) Despite their position between Europe and Asia, they stay often unknown territories for the rest of the world. But those countries, located between the Caspian Sea, the Middle East, Russia, China and Mongolia, represent a surface almost as big as Europe and a population of 100 million inhabitants.

For sure, Central Asia has been colonised and dominated by Russia since the early 19th century and the existence of the Soviet Union during the 20th left deep traces in the actual society. The countries of Centra Asia only gained their independence 30 years ago. But starting with the ancient Silk Road, ending with its new inception and version (the so-called Silk Road 2.0) via the Great Game, their history, culture and identity are a complex question with different roots and paths. For many inhabitants of Central Asia, Russian is still the lingua franca, religion has been so oppressed that it has only become a topic recently, political situations can be far away from the expected democratic standards, and economic development is mostly there for some happy few with a good network. And, as pretty often in countries where the press or the media are not free,


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