We’ve got another work of Contemporary Art on our trip around the world today. This artwork is from Kazakhstani artist, Yerbossyn Meldibekov.
For more images from this photo series, visit this link. At the bottom there are three sets of images from the series. Sorry because of copyright I can’t post big pictures of these images. Here’s another link. The pictures are along the left side.
Kazakhstan was the last of the republics to declare independence from the former Soviet Union. This series of photographs called Family Album/Mutations explores the history of Kazakhstan and how it has changed since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Soviet Union had a tradition of grand monuments erected to be a form of propaganda to magnify revolutionary, communist ideals. When the USSR collapsed, many people replaced these communist monuments with new ones that supported capitalism and a new sense of national pride.
Meldibekov found old photos of people posing next to the former Soviet monuments and then took new photos next to the new monuments or even a blank pedestal where the old statue once stood. Often the new photo would include the same people from the original photo so you have both the progression of time through the age of the people juxtaposed with the historical changes of politics through the monuments.
Yerbossyn Meldibekov’s Family Album/Mutations is a fascinating series that shows the tumultuousness of the 20th century in Kazakhstan. It reminds us of the history and the monumental leaders, but puts them into the perspective of individual people and families.
Kazakhstan Art Discussion Questions
- What’s going on in this picture? What is different? What is missing?
- What mood or emotion does the photograph on the left project? How is it different than the mood on the right?
- How do you think the people of Kazakhstan feel about this art?
Kazakhstan Art Learning Activity Ideas
Use this art in your lessons about the Soviet Union to help understand and explore the subject more deeply.
You could also have students brainstorm how we might do a similar photo series with history from our own location. For example, if you are a US citizen, maybe you could find a way to create a photo series using photographs and paintings from the Civil War.
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