When Nations Stink
This is not a national representation. Neither is it the result of “regional cooperation” among poor states valiantly setting aside differences to establish a shared presence in expensive Venice. This is a pavilion of resistance.
The Central Asian “nations,” whose borders were drawn by Stalin and whose identity was fabricated by Soviet cultural planners, have been ruled by dictators since independence – more than twenty years ago. They did not want this Pavilion.
Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the Uzbek dictator, is furious. Karimova, who goes by her stage name of “Googoosha” and prides herself on her cultural sensitivity, would have liked her “cultural NGO,” the so-called Forum Fund, to organize a proper national representation.
Instead, two Western organizations with a solid implantation in the region hijacked the propaganda vehicle and handed over the wheel to a young curatorial duo. Curators Bom and Tuleubek selected artists from four of the five Central Asian states, artists who would never be sanctioned by their governments.
Is this indeed the post-national pavilion, where a first front of resistance against state propaganda becomes manifest? Or have artists and curators used the escape from dictatorial propaganda to align with the generic jet-set aesthetics of international art world?Ibrahim Quraishi and Robert Kluijver