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Kazakhstan’s Recycled Art

17 Mar

Kazakh artist, Saule Suleimenova, has found a novel way of dealing with some of the masses of plastic bags that litter Kazakhstan – by recycling them into artworks.

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Saule Suleimenova’s ‘Civil Registration Office’ – note the shadowy police figures lurking in the background

Saule Suleimenova’s latest exhibition – called “… Somewhere in the Great Steppe”- features a series of paintings made entirely from discarded plastic items such as carrier bags and tablecloths – the style is known as cellophane painting. To see  how the bags are recycled into paintings, check out this video.

 

The exhibition opens with images from the steppe across the four seasons and then travels into the city, taking in village life along the way. The collection is part of her ongoing projects I’m Kazakh and Aruakhs (Spirits of Ancestors), which combines  archive images of Kazakhs against a backdrop of present-day scenes.

The themes in this exhibition are bang up to date with a triptych called ‘Civil Registration Office’ which depicts the chaos in registration centres at the start of this year when Kazakhstan introduced new laws to track the movements of its populace and assert its control over this formerly nomadic people.

The exhibition is open daily from 10.00-19.00 in Almaty’s Aurora Space, which is located by the Abay Opera and Ballet Theatre,  on the corner of Baiseitov and Zhambyl Street, but you’ll have to hurry if you want to catch it as it closes on 23 March.

 

Free Skating in Almaty, Rok

18 Nov

OK, so we take it all back – there is some good value to be had In Kazakhstan after all. Halyk Arena opened its doors this week, offering free ice skating to Almatinians until the end of the year.

Back in 2011 this very blog berated Kazakhstan for being a rip-off, but now we’ve been forced to reassess that opinion as free skating arrives in its commercial capital, Almaty.

Skating fans should head for the 3,000 capacity Halyk Arena, one of the main venues for next January’s Winter Student Games, or Universiade (The Olympics for university students) in Almaty, to take advantage of a freebie spin on the ice.

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Sunkar, the games’ mascot, gets ready to take to the ice at the Halyk Arena 

 

The newly-built facility was launched this week and is Kazakhstan’s first sports facility to have struck a naming rights deal. The nation’s biggest bank, Halyk Bank, has paid an undisclosed fee for the right to have its name attached to the stadium for three years.

One of the aims of holding the games is to promote winter sports among the population, so it was good to see loads of kids joining Sunkar, the mascot of the Almaty games, on the ice at the arena opened its doors earlier this week.

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Sunkar and his young friends on the ice

The free skating offer is on Friday evenings (20.00-22.00), and all day on Saturday and Sunday and runs until 31 December. Skates can be hired, for a fee, at the rink.

The Universiade starts on 28 January and runs until 8 February. Halyk Arena will host the Men’s Ice Hockey tournament.

Is Kazakhstan Mulling a Sisi Bid?

26 Feb

Egypt’s President Sisi has arrived in Astana for a two-day visit and speculation is rife that Kazakhstan may be pondering a bid for the leader who offered to sell himself for the good of Egypt on 24 February.

“If it were possible for me to be sold, I would sell myself,” President Sisi said in a speech on state television.

Immediately, a spoof page appeared on Ebay and bids quickly reached $100,000. The page was subsequently taken down.

“It’s not so unusual that leaders from one country go on to advise other countries – look at Tony Blair and Mikheil Saakashvili,” kazaxia’s politics expert Gary Kefali said today. “But with bidding having already reached $100,000, I think that in the current economic climate, this secondhand leader would be overpriced.”

Kazaxia went down to Carrefour supermarket in Almaty to get the public’s views on this move.

“I think that he [President Sisi] has done a great job in Egypt to ensure stability and unity,” said Nurik, a pensioner doing his weekly shop in the cut-price hypermarket. “$100,001 would be a fair price to bring his expertise to bear on our continued stability here and maybe get these carrots cleaned up.”

President Sisi is thought to be the first Egyptian leader to visit  Astana since Tutankhamun visited in 1325 BC.

 

 

Almaty Wheels out Big Guns for Winter Olympics Bid

29 Jul

In the final push for the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, Almaty has unveiled its secret weapons to wow the International Olympic Committee – figure skater Denis Ten and …. volleyball player Sabina Altynbekova.

As the delegates gather in Kuala Lumpur ahead of the vote on 31 July, Almaty is pulling out all the stops in its fight to the death with Beijing to host the games. Denis Ten won bronze at Sochi in 2014 in the figure skating and has been a fixture of the city’s bid.

Volleyball starlet Sabina Altynbekova.is not such an obvious choice to promote the bid to host the world’s premier winter sports spectacle. However, she is famous in Kazakhstan and beyond for her looks as well as her abilities on the volleyball court.

She rose to prominence last year at the Asian Under-19 Championships in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei. Her looks prompted hysteria with a Taiwan newspaper giving over 10 pages to photos of the 18-year-old and depictions of her as an anime character.

Some observers have suggested that a new event –  ice volley – could be included on the list if Almaty’s bid is successful. Apparently,this ancient sport can be traced back to the times when the Scythians roamed the Eurasian steppe.

 

Kazakhstan: Almaty Sundowner Hotspots

26 Jun

Lord Venal has finally come round from the deep slumber he fell into after observing the elections in Kalachi, Kazakhstan. He was extremely thirsty when he awoke and immediately found some great new bars in Almaty for a sundowner or two that he wants to share with kazaxia’s readers.

Negroni bar Almaty

After my long slumber following my visit to monitor voting in Kalachi on April 26, caused by the soporiphic nature of the poll, I was overcome with an incredible thirst. I awoke in Almaty and headed out in search of refreshment.

My travels took me first to Negroni Bar on Kurmangazy, just down from Cafeteria. This new bar has hit on a novel idea for Almaty –  you design your own cocktail. From a list one can choose the cocktail base, strength, and taste with options such as bitter, sour, sweet and spicy. Additional ingredients to add flavour to your tipple include apple, strawberry, celery, cucumber and basil.

After a couple of glasses I headed down Abai Street where I chanced upon Cafe Nedelka, which serves refreshing jugs of sangria, a light pick-me-up on a summer’s eve. The terrace is set back from the traffic-choked main thoroughfare and is a pleasant spot to while away a few hours.

Now feeling peckish, I took a taxi down Dostyk and found myself in Vino da Puri, a new venture from the Dedas Puri crew. Serving the same classy Georgian fare as in Dedas, this place is an oenophile’s delight with hundreds of bottles of wine to choose from. It also has a great terrace to make the most of the long summer evenings.

 

 

 

Kazakhstan: Kairat Face Troublesome Trip to Scotland in Europa League Draw

24 Jun

Almaty’s FC Kairat could face a gruelling 11,000 km roundtrip to Scotland after the draw was made for the Europa League qualifiers on 22 June.

If Kairat can overcome Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade over two legs, then a trip to the land of whisky and deep-fried Mars bars might be on the cards if St Johnstone can beat Armenia’s Aleshkert FC.

Kairat will be following in the footsteps of Shakhter Karagandy who made the trip to Scotland in 2013 to play Glasgow’s Celtic, only to lose 3-0. The result meant the miners lost 3-2 on aggregate. The defeat was blamed on UEFA’s ban on pre-match sheep sacrificing. Shakhter had slaughtered a shaggy black ram ahead of the first leg in Astana.

Almaty taxi driver and Kairat supporter, Samat, was confused when asked by kazaxia about the potential trip to Scotland. “Where’s that then?” he asked. “I’ve heard of England and Holland but what’s this Scotland?”

Many in Kazakhstan confuse what they refer to as the ‘lands’ – England, Holland, Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Poland, Iceland, Switzerland, Swaziland, Thailand and Greenland.

Zh Suis Gulzhan

23 Jan

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Kazaxia would like to express its support for freedom of expression in Kazakhstan in the spirit of Je suis Charlie .

Gulzhan Yergaliyeva, editor-in chief of the embattled ADAM bol magazine,was detained in Almaty this morning as she attempted to go to a public meeting with some of the magazine’s readers in Republic Square.

Yergaliyeva has been on hunger strike since 19 January in protest at a November court ruling ordering the closure of ADAM bol for engaging in alleged “extremist war propaganda“.

Other journalists from the magazine were also arrested en-route to the gathering, which attracted a handful of activists. The magazine is one of the last examples of that endangered species – the independent, opposition press, in Kazakhstan.