What do we really know about Central Asia? Our images of a romanticised oriental splendour or riders across the endless steppes have now been overlaid with pictures of catastrophic crises, in ecology, the economy and security policy. But are we truly doing justice to the major cultural traditions across the region, or recognizing the significance of a touchstone transformation process, struggling to establish a path from other-determined social structures formed under Soviet influence towards an independent development defined by national criteria? Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan the new Central Asian states find themselves in a constant process of reorientation in cultural, social, political and economic spheres. This contribution to the "Off the Silk Road" project offers a closer look at cultural and artistic developments, using an interdisciplinary perspective to trace forms of cultural expression ranging from folk religious practices especially in music to the radical pronouncements of avant-garde artists. This sets a clear signal for the creative potential and expressive power of artists in whatever 'category' and provides a counterweight to simplistic images of a region in crisis.
Authors: Hans-Georg Knopp and Peter C. Seel
For the full-length article please refer to the german version.
On September 11, Sabine Vogel, curator of the exhibition on Central Asian contemporary art "No Mads Land", found herself travelling in Uzbekistan, on the way from Bukhara to Samarkand. In her notes she describes her impressions of Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent, cities tacking back and forth between the relics of a magnificent past, Soviet structures and the new market economy. Her journey was given a surreal touch by the snippets of news slowly trickling in about the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Author: Sabine Vogel
For the full-length article please refer to the German version.