One Steppe Forward. 2019
plastic bags on polyethylene
130×180 cm x 3, together 130×540 cm
This work stems from my experience of Qazaq Koktemi, a series of peaceful protests within Kazakh civil society in the Spring of 2019. During this time of social upheaval, thousands of Kazakhstanis protested against the fraudulent presidential election and the unlawful renaming of their capital city along with other troubling political events. This work thus reflects the dynamics of Kazakh protest: its faces, its bodies, its colours. The form of triptych is not accidental. On the one hand, by showing the squeezed and chaotic crowd in the middle of peaceful steppe, I aim to demonstrate the inorganic and bounded space in which people were constrained. On the other hand, I want to show that in the steppe – the inherent part of Kazakh mindset – protest, as civic activity, may re-acquire new existential features. This work, as many of my recent works, is made with plastic bags. Since 2014, plastic gradually became a quintessential expression of my experience within life and art. The plastic I use comes from people from different countries, with different backgrounds and life stories. So, when I use plastic I recycle not only material artefacts, but also different social and cultural attitudes about the life cycle. This work is about basic civic rights, or their absence. This connects the civic movement in Kazakhstan to those happening in many parts of the world, namely Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong, Russia, Turkey, France, etc. In it, I wish to express a profound sentiment of belonging to the protesters everywhere in the world. This work, ultimately, should be read as an expression of métissage and of the inseparable links of political and environmental activism and artistic praxis.