Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Soviet Asia: Soviet Modernist Architecture in Central Asia

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Avesto Hotel, Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Image: Stefano Perego
Uzbek Journeys travellers, and readers of this website, know that I have a particular fondness for Soviet architecture.

Italian photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego crossed the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, documenting buildings constructed from the 1950s until the fall of the USSR.

The resulting images showcase the majestic, largely unknown, modernist buildings of the region. Museums, housing complexes, universities, circuses, ritual palaces – all were constructed using a composite aesthetic.

Influenced by Persian and Islamic architecture, pattern and mosaic motifs articulated a connection with Central Asia. Grey concrete slabs were juxtaposed with colourful tiling and rectilinear shapes broken by ornate curved forms: the brutal designs normally associated with Soviet-era architecture were reconstructed with Eastern characteristics.

Conte and Perego travelled through the region in 2018. Since then, some outstanding examples of Soviet Modernism have been demolished and it is poignant to view them again in this collection. Tashkent's stunning Dom Kino - House of Cinema - is no more. Other fine examples are under threat.

This excellent book is published by Fuel Design and Publishing, an innovative group based in London. Other interesting Fuel titles about the Soviet Union include volumes 1 and 2 of Soviet Bus Stops, Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums, Looking for Lenin and CCCP (USSR) Cook Book.

More images below.

Related posts
Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums
Back in the USSR: Soviet Roadside Architecture
Kyrgyzstan's Bus Stops
Georgia: Soviet Modernist Mosaics from 1960 to 1990
Tashkent's Soviet Buildings
Seismic Modernism - Architecture and Housing in Soviet Tashkent


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Drilling tool plant, Samarkand. Image: Stefano Perego


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State Academic Russian Theatre for Children and Young People, Almaty. Image: Stefano Perego
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Bishkek circus. Image: Stefano Perego



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Exhibition Hall of the Uzbek Union of Artists, Tashkent. Image: Stefano Perego

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Kyrgyzstan Ends Statelessness in Historic First

Previously stateless, Nazgul Avaz Kyzy, 22, is now a full citizen of
Kyrgyzstan and able to work legally at a local café. Image: Chris de Bode UNHCR
Bravo Kyrgyzstan!

In a breakthrough in the global fight against statelessness,  Kyrgyzstan has become a leading example of how statelessness can be eradicated, by bringing the number of stateless people in the country from over 13,000 to zero in just five years.

Last week in a ceremony in the capital, Bishkek, 50 previously stateless people, including 15 children, were issued with birth certificates and passports, making them citizens.

They are the last known stateless people in Kyrgyzstan and will now have the same rights as any other citizen.

The break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s left hundreds of thousands of people throughout Central Asia stateless, including in Kyrgyzstan. Encouraged by the UNHCR-led #IBelong campaign that was launched in 2014 to end statelessness, the Government and partners had identified 13,700 people without nationality in the country. These included more than 2,000 children.

“Kyrgyzstan’s leadership on resolving known cases of statelessness is a remarkable example that I hope others will applaud and heed,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “My congratulations to all those who have received their citizenship today.”

Citizenship ceremony in Osh, 2018
Statelessness affects millions of people around the world, often denying them the basic rights and official recognition that most people take for granted.

Some 3.9 million stateless people appear in the reporting of 78 countries, but UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency believes the true total to be significantly higher.

Related posts:
Kyrgyz Space Program: Creating the First Kyrgyz Satellite Ever & It Will be Built by Girls
Kyrgyzstan: Social Entrepreneur Finds Foothold in Tien Shan Foothills
Kyrgyzstan: Yurt Preschools Reach Nomadic Children


Monday, June 17, 2019

Power of Pattern: Central Asian Ikats Exhibition, Los Angeles

Lucky residents and visitors to California: at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is a superb exhibition of more than 60 examples of Central Asian robes and wall hangings. It closes 28 July 2019.

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Chapan from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord collection, LACMA

The objects on view are drawn solely from the collection of Dr. David and Elizabeth Reisbord. On the occasion of the exhibition, LACMA announced the acquisition of all the ikats on display, a generous gift from the Reisbords, strengthening the museum’s encyclopaedic costume and textiles collection.

Organized by motif, the exhibit examines how the region's textile designers, dyers and weavers used improvisation and abstraction to create unique textiles.

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Chapan from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord collection, LACMA
Central Asian ikat textiles are a testament to the power of pattern and are influenced by the various cultures along the historic Silk Road.

Employing creative use of scale, proportion and orientation, with hues that are compelling in the purposeful contrast, these luxury fabrics functioned as beacons of kaleidoscopic colour that reflected the wealth and sophistication of its patrons.

Their vivid patterns with blurred, cloud-like juxtapositions of colour are known as arbandi, literally "cloud binding". As clothing or decoration for the home, these textiles resonated against the Central Asian landscapes.

The catalogue from the exhibition is available via the museum's website, though unfortunately shipping is only available to the USA.

Below is a one-minute video from the exhibition highlighting these gorgeous pieces. (If the video does not display on your device, go directly to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcjrQIZ6Uhc)

Related posts:
Ikat: The "Thread That Connects Generations" Exhibition, Tashkent
The Fantasy World of Uzbek Textile Artist Dilyara Kaipova
Fashion's Obsession with Central Asian Design
The Story of Uzbek Silk Production: Step by Step
Buy Original Ikat Items by Dilyara Kaipova - Uzbekistan's Foremost, Modern Textile Designer

Video: