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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.

 

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Kazakhstan: On Your Bike

14 Nov

Almaty’s first bike share scheme has just got off the ground, but with winter just around the corner will Almaty’s answer to London’s Boris Bikes be a hit with commuters?

Almaty Bike Share Paul Bartlett

Almaty’s answer to London’s Boris Bikes – Akhmetzhan Bikes – by the city’s only cycle path

Almaty’s mayor, Akhmetzhan Yesimov, is keen to get his fellow citizens onto two wheels. The latest move in the uphill struggle to break the dependence on the jeep sees two bike stations opening in Almaty where bikes can be rented for short trips across town.

At the moment there are 30 bikes available under the scheme but the city mayor’s office hopes to eventually open up to 200 bike stations across the city. Rentals are 150 tenge ($0.85) a day (for trips up to 30 minutes at a time) or 600 tenge ($3.35) for the week.

A cycle lane opened in the city in 2010, but since then little has been done to make cycling more attractive to the masses. Almaty’s traffic-clogged streets see few cyclists braving the perilous conditions.

With fuel shortages gripping the country this year, bikes could be a way to ease the pressure on oil-rich Kazakhstan’s scarce petrol resources.

With more junk food set to arrive in the guise of McDonalds, set to open in Kazakhstan in 2015, a more determined push on getting people onto bikes may be needed to combat the looming obesity crisis when the burger joint opens its doors.

 

 

Kazakhstan: Aliya Nazarbayeva Goes Green

21 May

Aliya Nazarbayeva, youngest daughter of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, is positioning herself as  Kazakhstan’s eco-warrior-in-chief  with a screening of her documentary Awakeningwhich opened the New York Eurasian Fim Festival on May 20.

The 34-minute film deals with the greening of Kazakhstan and draws heavily on her father’s “Green Bridge” initiative, a Kazakh-government led project that aims to boost green development by sharing research and ideas between developed and developing countries.

This move sees Ms Nazarbayeva branching out from the world of jewellery design, with her Alsara brand, into film production and environmental protection, but could this also be the start of a more active involvement in politics?

The Eurasian Film Festival runs until May 24 and has free screenings of films from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Bulgaria and Poland.