Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"I Dream of the Stans: New Central Asian Video" @ Winkleman Gallery (and Other Events You Shouldn't Miss)

OK, so when I said we were too busy to stay long in LA, I wasn't kidding. This week we open up an exhibition we've been working on for over a year (being held in conjunction with Asian Contemporary Art Week [see press release and other ACAW events below]), and next week is the PULSE New York art fair (more on that next week).

During the fairs, I'll also be participating in the ArtBloggers@ panel discussion with Carol Diehl; C-Monster's mysterious author, Paddy Johnson, and Sharon Butler, organized by the equally hard-working Sharon and the panel's moderator Joanne Mattera (more info here).

But first, this Thursday is the opening at the gallery (6-8 pm) of "I Dream of the Stans: New Central Asian Video." I hope you get a chance to stop by. Co-curated by Central Asian expert and independent curator Leeza Ahmady, Murat Orozobekov, and yours truly, the exhibition brings together 7 of the most important artists working in video from the region of the world we affectionately call "the Stans." Here's the PR:

I Dream of the Stans: New Central Asian Video

Featuring recent work by Vyacheslav Akhunov, Rahraw Omarzad, Almagul Menlibayeva, Jamshed Khalilov, Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek Djumaliev, Said Atabekov, and Julia Tikhonova & Rustam Khalfin.

Co-curated by Leeza Ahmady, Murat Orozobekov, and Edward Winkleman

March 20 – April 19, 2008
Opening: Thurs, March 20, 6-8 pm
Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat, 11 6 pm

In conjunction with Asian Contemporary Art Week 2008, Winkleman Gallery is extremely pleased to present I Dream of the Stans, an exhibition of new video by leading contemporary artists in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Co-curated by independent curator Leeza Ahmady, Murat Orozobekov, and Edward Winkleman, the exhibition surveys the range of powerful new works emerging from this often overlooked region of the world. Since the incredible critical acclaim that greeted the first Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2005, contemporary artists from Afghanistan and the former Soviet Republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan have drawn an increasing amount of attention from Western curators, museums and galleries. Most of the newfound attention centers on the remarkably strong single- and multi-channel video works produced in the region, a fact often attributed to the region’s centuries-old traditions of storytelling, street theater, and weaving. I Dream of the Stans brings together works by seven of the area’s most important artists (and teams) including Vyacheslav Akhunov, Rahraw Omarzad, Almagul Menlibayeva, Jamshed Khalilov, Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek Djumaliev, Said Atabekov, and Julia Tikhonova & Rustam Khalfin.

Known for elaborate multi-channel video installations (including a 5-channel piece recently commissioned by the Art Institute of Chicago), the husband-wife team Muratbek Djumaliev & Gulnara Kasmalieva (Kyrgyzstan) present their 2006 single-channel piece “Something About Contemporary Nomadism,” in which a steady stream of seemingly bored airline passengers passing through security blithely submit to what would be seen as highly invasive personal searches in other settings. Guards with rubber gloves pat them down, touching their inner legs and backs and chests, while the passengers seem to hardly notice.

In Vyacheslav Akhunov’s (Uzbekistan) video “Cleaner” the artist is seen meticulously cleaning the surfaces of various British national monuments in London with his toothbrush. Akhunov was well-known by his peers as the “official anti-official artist” during the Soviet era, but now continues to tackle ideas of cultural superiority, be it intellectual, spiritual or political. In his videos, the subjects often repeat certain actions or gestures in a kind of circular pattern; from bottom to top, one point to another, or just going round and about - all reminiscent of various forms of Sufi meditations. In “Cleaner” Akhunov reminds us that perhaps our sacredly guarded ideas about culture and its production needs some form of cleansing. He is keen on broadening defined notions and unburdening established authorities by exploring conflicts, which are derivative of culture that in itself is subjective.

Rustam Khalfin (born in Uzbekistan and resident of Kazakhstan), as follower of Russian historical avant-garde and both teacher and theorist of trends in contemporary art and culture, has played an integral role in training younger artists. In his collaboration video with Julia Tikhonova, entitled “Northern Barbarians, Part II: Love Races,” a young couple is making love, nude on horseback, while riding across some desolate woods. Inspired by two series of watercolors from the 18th and 19th centuries (found in the book of “Chinese Eros”) the love scenes are re-interpreted. The term “Northern Barbarians” is a reference the name the ancient Chinese called the wild wanderers they were grateful to have the Great Wall of China separate them from. The video is the reconstruction of an ancient way of making love in a region highly connected to its nomadic past and spirit. Considered a masterpiece, the work exemplifies how Khalfin’s painterly mind is matched by his conceptual vigor for contextual criticism.

Two internationally exhibiting artists also from Kazakhstan, Almagul Menlibayeva and Said Atabakov, address the processes for change and reform in Central Asia with a focus on Asian continental ties and mentality. Said Atabekov is a founding member of the influential collaborative “Kizil Traktor” (Red Tractor). In his video “Neon Paradise,” the artist is dressed in his signature dervish outfit made of an odd mixture of absurd objects, materials and props, including an old Soviet-military jug for water. He is seen sitting like an aberration kneeled in a kind of a prayer position repeatedly bowing his head down towards an automatic double glass door that continues to open and shut as he moves. It is not clear whether the doors open into a corporate building, modern super market, or university. What is clear is that in this noble open-ended manner the artist is deconstructing contemporary realities such as economic and environmental decadence and other technologically driven mass global deliriums.

Almagul Menlibayeva is known as an experimental artist working simultaneously in a variety of media such as painting, performances, installations and videos. Her gorgeously landscaped and peopled videos translate the various dimensions of what she wishes to express about beauty, decor, ritual and spiritual practices. Her primary concern with women and their role in pre -Soviet, pre-Islamic, and even shamanistic and dervish origins is exemplified in her video “Jihad.”

Rahraw Omarzad, an artist and professor at Kabul University, established the Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (CCAA). He is the conceptual author of the video work “Opening” in collaboration with his students and members of CCAA. Through CCAA, Omarzad has been actively working with young artists in an effort to foster their sense of independence and individuality. Re-education is therefore a pressing; not only in re-thinking art and its making but in rendering visible the various truths that are buried beneath the piles of media-manufactured issues facing Afghanistan. In this video, a dark screen and a loud consistent banging sound slowly opens to a woman’s sparkling eyes under her “Chadori”. Someone from the outside cuts open a layer of fabric in front of the veiled women, but instead of seeking to come out or to cut off her veil with the scissors, she opts to embroider a beautiful and colorful floral design around the opening with her sensually jeweled and painted hands. The work is a poetic gesture towards woman’s creative role in the world as assigned to her by nature and how the subjects of freedom and limitation are relative to internal attitudes, regardless of how dire the external façade.

Jamshed Khalilov represented Tajikistan at the Central Asian Pavilion in Venice in 2007. In his charming piece “Bus Stop,” each image in a series of photographs of the often highly decorated structures providing shelter for commuters throughout Central Asian countries seems to pause momentarily and then whisk off to the side, as if mimicking the stop-and-start motions of a bus along its route. Often blending Soviet motifs with more ancient and/or Islamic architectural themes and patterns, each of the bus stops is a unique artistic statement even as it serves a public purpose. Sometimes fantastical (one is shaped like the traditional hat worn by natives), sometimes simply beautiful, these now nostalgic structures stand out as oases of expression along the otherwise often desolate roads they punctuate.

For more information, please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or

Winkleman Gallery
637 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
t: 212.643.3152
f: 212.643.2040

Asian Contemporary Art Week
March 15 - 24, 2008

And as if that weren't enough, there are great events all week long all over the city as part of Asian Contemporary Art Week (OK, so you've already missed a few days if you're just tuning in, but there's plenty of great events left), including:


  • 2pm Biennial artist Howie Chen and Mika Tajima in conversation at the Whitney Museum of American Art (945 Madison Ave at 75th St)

  • 6-8pm Cutting Edge Taiwanese Contemporary Art Exhibition opening reception at Taipei Cultural Center(1 E. 42nd St 7th Fl. at 5th Ave)6:30pm Printmaker Tomie Arai will speak at Lower East Side Printshop
    (306 W. 37th St 6th Fl. bet. 8th & 9th Ave)

  • 6-9pm Tamarind Art's opening reception for "Indian Contemporaries" (142 E. 39th St bet. 3rd & Lex. Ave)
THURSDAY, MARCH 20 (Chelsea) night with 16 galleries presenting programs

  • 6-8pm Arario Gallery showcases Korea's newest star Hyungkoo Lee (521 W. 25th St 2nd Fl. bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm Bose Pacia* opening reception for new works by Ranbir Kaleka from India (508 W. 26th St 11th Fl. bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm Shi Jinsong will talk about his Baby Boutique project at Chambers Fine Art (210 11th Ave 4th Fl. bet. 24th & 25th St)

  • 6-8pm Toshio Iezumi's "Refractivelocity" opening reception at Chappell Gallery (526 W. 26th St Suite 317 bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6:30-8:30pm ChinaSquare Curatorial talk by Robert C. Morgan plus special cocktail reception (545 W. 25th St 8th Fl. bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8:30pm on view at Chinese Contemporary: paintings by Tu Hongtao (535 W. 24th St bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm Fay Ku in conversation with curator Brendon MacInnis (M Magazine) at Kips Gallery (531 W. 25th St bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8:30pm Lin Tianmiao and Wu Moonching opens at Mary Ryan Gallery (527 W. 26th St bet. 10th Ave & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm Korean artist Hye Rim Lee's solo exhibition on view at Max Lang (229 10th Ave. bet. 23rd & 24th St)

  • 6-8pm Opening reception for renowned painter Byron Kim and Chinese painter Qiu Jiongjiong's exhibition at Max Protetch (511 W. 22nd St bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm Atlanta based Korean born Jiha Moon creates a special scroll painting alongside Israeli artist Zipora Fried's solo exhibition opening at Moti Hasson Gallery (535 W. 25th St. bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-9pm M.Y. Art Prospects opening reception for Vietnam based artists and curatorial talk at 7:30pm
    (547 W. 27th St 2nd Fl. bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm opening reception at Onishi Gallery highlighting Japanese artists' love for the ephemeral (521 W. 26th St bet. 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm "Drishti: Pan- Asian Group Show" will be on view at Sundaram Tagore Gallery (547 W. 27th St bet 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm Thomas Erben Gallery opening reception for award winning new media artist Ashok Sukumaran (526 W. 26th 4th Fl. bet 10th & 11th Ave)

  • 6-8pm "I Dream of the 'Stans: New Central Asian Video" opens at Winkleman Gallery co-curated by Leeza Ahmady, Murat Orozobekov and Edward Winkleman (637 W. 27th St bet. 11th & 12nd Ave)
FRIDAY, MARCH 21 (Downtown)
  • 4-8pm 88 Conversations: Studio Opening (13-17 Laight St Suite 26 bet. Varick St & St. Johns Ln.)

  • 6-8pm Cutting Edge Taiwanese Contemporary Art Exhibition opens at The Gabarron Foundation (149 E. 38th St bet. 3rd & Lex Ave)

  • 6:30pm Conversation: Hiroshi Sunairi and Yuken Teruya will talk at New York University (34 Stuyvesant St bet 2nd & 3rd Ave at 9th St)

  • 6-9pm Reception for Pouran Jinchi at Art Projects International*. Conversation starts at 7:30pm (429 Greenwich St Suite 5B bet Laight & Vestry St)

  • 6:30-8pm Kanishka Raja's site specific installation opens at envoy plus 7:30pm artist in conversation (131 Chrystie St bet Delancey & Broome St)

  • 6-8pm Atul Bhalla, Osamu James Nakagawa and Jaye Rhee on view at Sepia International / The Alkazi Collection* (148 W. 24th St 11th Fl. bet. 6th & 7th Ave)

  • 6-9pm Ethan Cohen Fine Arts* opening reception: a survey of best painters from Asia (18 Jay St bet Hudson & Greenwich St)

  • 7-9:30pm Conversation plus Performances by David Abir and Frank Fu at the Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St. bet. 6th & 7th Ave)

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Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

Ed I award you "The Coffee Bean Hyper Achievement Award" it sounds like you have a full plate and you still managed to post a full guide to all the events.

being it's Asian Contemporary Art Week it might be appropriate to point out the current violence in Tibet and paste an exerpt from an email Avaaz sent out today(whose list I signed onto as a result of your blog)

After decades of repression under Chinese rule, the Tibetan people's frustrations have burst onto the streets in protests and riots. With the spotlight of the upcoming Olympic Games now on China, Tibetans are crying out to the world for change.

The Chinese government has said that the protesters who have not yet surrendered "will be punished". Its leaders are right now considering a crucial choice between escalating brutality or dialogue that could determine the future of Tibet, and China.

you can sign a petition and get more info at Avaaz.com

3/18/2008 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger ryan said...

Sounds like a very interesting exhibition, I look forward to seeing it.

As someone who has co-curated exhibitions in a not-for-profit space and an art collective setting, I'd be interested in hearing about your experience co-curating in a commercial gallery (and balancing your curatorial and business roles since the gallery is your own). Perhaps that's another post entirely.

3/18/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Regarding Joseph's post on Tibet - is it inappropriate for the artworld community to petition the artist Cai Guo Qiang from going through with his firework display for the Olympics? It feels like there are "boundary issues" here, are they real?

3/18/2008 12:20:00 PM  

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