ERBOSSYN MELDIBEKOV INTERVIEW
personal ambitions of each new dictator or party secretary. I think my mission as a Central Asian artist is that of researching amongst archive materials and demonstrating how present times are just a repetition of mechanisms from the past. As some critics underlined, all my works are connected to utopia. After 70 years of Communist utopia, a new utopia is being born in Central Asia (or Pastan, as he ironically calls his area of provenance, ed.). We used to be portrayed beside our monuments to get a souvenir and now they’re all gone like an old vinyl record, even though they told us it was all going to be forever. So those monuments are not landscape anymore: their change becomes the subject to portray and human beings become the new landscape.
How come so many family portraits in front of monuments? Was it a common practice in your country at that time? We used to live in an ideologized space. Every social activity used to happen around a leader’s monument. It was typical to get your portrait done in front of those statues, especially because we had low quality cameras and professional photographers used to be found there. People could be proud of their ‘monument portraits’.
The subjects of these pictures are your relatives. A chance? Or also, as I think, is there a will of re-living an emotional past, adding some intimacy to a project that would otherwise be of simple chronicle? Everything is family over here nowadays. In the past, Communist leaders were faithful to an idea and to an ideology.
Where are those places? Is there any particular monument or building that you would like to mention? Most of them are in the south of Kazakhstan. There is a particular place where Kalinin and Stalin gave place to Gengis Khan’s right arm. Another one in which Lenin was
Now leaders surround themselves with their relatives. Their families get all the power. By showing the artists’ family, while embodying this issue, we want to show the change and tell a ‘boring’ artist’s biography.