Museum 2050 Tselinny Center of Contemporary Culture - Almaty, Kazakhstan

MUSEUM 2050 Dispatch

Updates from Tselinny Center of Contemporary Culture – Almaty, Kazakhstan

Alima Kairat

The pandemic year has been unpredictable for everyone. For me, it has brought a lot of changes. At the epicentre of COVID-19, I have managed to finish my Master’s degree and move back to Almaty to continue working with the Tselinny Center of Contemporary Culture.

It seems like the pandemic gave a great creative boost to the cultural sector in Kazakhstan. Lots of new initiatives and organisations are opening up new formats pop up on the artistic scene of Kazakhstan. These activities made us look closely at our strategy and rethink Tselinny’s mission. We started reflecting on our architecture, events, exhibitions, and publications that we have done and we asked ourselves “what is Tselinny? What would be the main associations with Tselinny?” 

Tselinny Center of Contemporary Culture is an institution that promotes cultural exchange to assist the local general public and build an intellectual community by creating a dialogue within Kazakhstani latitude and the central Asian and Eurasian regions. 

We have concreted for ourselves that Tselinny is focused on two main directions: archive and research. An archive is a construct of the past articulated through collecting information about artists, artworks, and theoretical research work and its classification. An online archive will be open for public access for everyone to use its resources. Research is a theoretical justification of particular historical facts, the proof of the existence of such theories and how relevant it is from a contemporary point of view. We are interested in a mixture of perspectives and aim to work with various scholars to support either existing and/or give a platform for new themes to be developed, which hopefully will produce synergy. Research and archive are tools for the realisation of Tselinny’s wide exhibition, publishing, performing arts and film programme.

In the horizon of our first three years we have chosen a circle of problematics that are important to us, themes such as “Soviet Heritage and Agenda: Decolonial and Post-colonial histories”, “Islamic condition in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan”, “Black Pages – Years of Independence”, “Female condition: women in Central Asia”, “Archive: Contemporary Culture”, “Environmental thinking: big business and the problem of responsibility”. We felt that it is important to escape from a typical hierarchy of one curatorial perspective that imposes one person’s opinion. Therefore, in the spring of 2021 we started working with an international advisory board, who accommodate with articulating the circle of our problematics which is directed towards our discourses. Members of our advisory board are foremost theorists in contemporary culture. By systematising research and archival work, we hope that our work will generate an academic circle and community, which will raise and support a new generation of young art professionals and artists living and working in Kazakhstan. We hope it could resonate globally to open up Kazakhstani contemporary art to the wider world and create a dialogue within different disciplines. A further objective of Tselinny Center is to form a platform for open reflection and critical debate about emerging Kazakhstani theorists, scholars, and artists thereby bridging the gap between institutional work and the underground art industry. 

About the Author:

Alima Kairat is a strategy project lead at Tselinny Center of Contemporary Culture, Almaty, the first private cultural institution dedicated to investigate interdisciplinary exchange between contemporary art and culture in Kazakhstan. Alima holds the responsibility for planning, conception and implementation of strategic programming of the Center. Alima received her Bachelor’s degree at Courtauld Institute of Art, and Master’s degree at Goldsmith’s Institute of Art, London.

About the Series:

Museum 2050 has always been about bringing people together through our community’s shared passion for museums and institutional development. As the world slowly and carefully starts reopening, we are checking in weekly with various members of our broader network to share personal reflections, anecdotes and musings about how they and their institutions have been operating in the face of this pandemic. In these incredibly difficult times for all, we hope that these brief vignettes from around the world bring us closer together, and remind us that even when the world stops and museum doors close, we still persevere.