PAPA Lab Bishkek Kyrgystan 3rd till 17 of April 2011
Eleven students of ArtEast took part in the P.A.P.A. Lab Bishkek. We worked in two shifts. Each group worked with P.A.P.A. for a week. We went out for a shared photowalk on Sunday. We met two evenings during the week and rounded up on Saturday. From the photos taken on the photowalk every student selected two pictures a day for a week to upload on the a shared photoblog, the P.A.P.A. website.The uploaded pictures were given a title, a text (max 40 words) and keywords. See www.papaplatform.com
Participating artists are Nellya Dzhamanbaeva, Angelina Mokh, Sapargul Turdubekova, Elena Chigibaeva, Nargiz Chynalieva, Raisat Musaeva, Tatyana Zelenskaja, Samat Mambetshaev, Anastasia Slastnikova, Tatyana Mihnevich, Meka Muratova.
Text with pictures:
1. Expensive traditions
by Nargiz Chynalieva
Each year Kyrgyz people spend about 2 billion dollars for observance traditions: a wedding is very expensive event. Another expensive tradition concerned with commemoration. If men died his family should knife sheep or cow or horse for people who will come to their home for praying. And this operation repeats on the 7-th, 40-th days after death and every year on day of this person’s death family should pray, invite relatives and other people and prepare a lot of food for them. Poor families often rent money for it and long time should work hard to repay it.
2. Match is not a toy for children
by Anastasia Slastnikova
In the 60th of the last century the Soviet Union puts slogans all over city. This one says do not let your children play with matches.
3. Lost in the West
by Lino Hellings
On my first round in Bishkek on Saturday morning I found these children playing a game I did play in my youth as well. You draw a pattern with chalk on the floor and on one leg you jump from square to square. The girls do not speak English but are wearing t shirts with texts full of meaning. Does this message ‘lost in the west’, refer to her father working abroad?
4. Bright Future
by Nellya Dzhamanbaeva
This is a poster of one of the political parties (translates as “Republic” from russian) in Kyrygzstan. On the back it is a building that is under construction already for a few years (future mall – its one of the trends in our country) which is surrounded by barbed wire.
This poster and building have related story. Government promises “a bright future”, parties come and go. But things usually don’t change.
P.S. In Kyrgyzstan were two revolutions. First one on 24 of March, 2005. Second on 7 of April 2010.
5. Door of the Castle
by Angelina Mokh
Lock the door and calm down. But today such a lock will not be save enough I am afraid. Around the Soviet flatbuildings there are garages and storehouses. One for every family. To store what you think you need for 'black day'. A day that will never come.
6. Probably drunk (or planking?)
by Tatyana Zelenskaja
In Bishkek it is easy to meet drunk people lying on the roadside. Passersby will only help in case the person is dressed well. Even this happens rarely.
7. Brushes to paint trees
by Tatyana Mikhnevich
Every spring everybody clean up the territory around their houses and paint trees. This is the customs from the Soviet time and people call it “Subbotnik” because they usually do it on Saturdays.
8. Hot English
by Lino Hellings
Many people want to learn English.
Patterns we found are:
Clans, contemplation and revolution.
How can such peacefull, contemplative people get involved in two recent revolutions (2010 and 2005) and ethnic riots (2010)? I could understand the mechanism a bit after I found out about the importance of clans. There is still a rich family structure with all its good aspects of people taking care of each other. ‘Public sitting rooms’ everywhere: especially men love to sit or squat together in public space to play games or just chat. But these postive aspects have a negative side as well. Family life can get a obligatory character like ‘expensive traditions’ where people have to throw expensive parties when their children get married. The government is talking about making a law that forbids ‘expensive traditions’ by limiting the number of people at a wedding p.e. Will not work I guess. When a clan has helped one of their family members to get a high position, people of the clan will want a repay at a certain point. That is where corruption is born. It does not explain it all but it helps to understand.
Up to the day of today signs and signals of the Soviet times can be read everywhere in public space. On a flatbuilding it shows in big iron letters ‘Do not allow your children to play with matches’. There is Subbotnik: the people of a neighbourhood, students of a University but also the nurses (and doctors?) of a hospital are out in public space to broom, clean and repair their environment. Many people with paint buckets: white for stones and bottoms of trees and multi colors for the benches and iron objects in all the playgrounds the city counts. But there are also the big billboards with captitalist slogans. Not long ago ‘lounge’ was the magic word in advertisement, now ‘art’ is fashionable in the recommandation of clubs, casino’s, dancings. We saw ‘Dental Art’ as well. Society is in the middle of these two ideologies. The USA and the USSR are both equally present in Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek hosts the USA troops for Afghanistan and the ties with the USSR never vanished. All the former Soviet states in Central Asia still hold mutual relations as well as common ones with the USSR. Not in the least economic ties.
People, fences, houses, roads are made up out of patchwork. We recognize patchwork traditional style in the carpets and bedding that are aired on the early spring days. We see patchwork in the maintenance of roads, buildings, the electricity network. In and around buildings a lot of more or less creative solutions to come up to direct needs. All pipelines apart from the sewer system are visible in public space. They form a creative knitting and knotting network along the roads forming arches at the entrances of courtyards of the appartmentbuildings. The many fences are ‘ready mades’ of a quality an artist can be jealous of: made hospital bed, bottles and mud amongst others. And everywhere asbestos. Roofs, fences, cover of the hot water pipes for city heating. Not bad when in one piece. But often enough in small pieces laying around or being transported. Every person in Bishkek carries multiple identities as well.
The public telephone book is omnipresent. Mostly job offers (tele marketing) or courses in English (Hot English). People living in the appartment buildings customize their the balconies. Store things like chairs for black day (when there is nothing in the shops anymore) Around the buildings we see little cities of storehouses. Single houses do have outside toilets. Even the rich people stick to that sometimes. There are public sittingrooms created by people on scattered big stones, on horsebacks (at the outskirts of the city) playing chess or backgammon. There are post Soviet slogans about how to behave, capitalist billboards, official and unofficial regulations written on walls. There is the graffiti referring to popculture. Tokyo hotel (loosers), Rammstein and Linkin park.