PAPA Lab Bishkek Kyrgyzstan 2011


PAPA Lab Bishkek Kyrgyzstan 3 - 17 April

Hosted by ArtEast. Participants mixed group of artsudents of ArtEast: Nellya Dzhamanbaeva, Angelina Mokh, Sapargul Turdubekova, Elena Chigibaeva, Nargiz Chynalieva, Raisat Musaeva, Tatyana Zelenskaja, Samat Mambetshaev, Anastasia Slastnikova, Tatyana Mihnevich and Meka Muratova. With the support of Artscollaboratory.


How could such peaceful, contemplative people get involved in two recent revolutions (2005 and 2010) and ethnic riots (2010)? I began to understand the mechanics of this a short time after I found out about the importance of clans. There is still a strong family structure with all its positive aspects of people taking care of each other. There are 'public sitting rooms' everywhere: men in particular love to sit or squat together in public spaces to play games or just chat. But these positive aspects have a negative side as well. Family life has its costly obligations such as the expensive parties people are forced to throw when their children get married. The government is talking about making a law that forbids these socalled 'expensive traditions' by limiting the number of people at a wedding. My guess is that this will not work. When a clan has helped one of its family members to attain a high position, it will want to be paid back at a certain point, spawning corruption. This does not explain everything, but it helps us begin to understand.

Carpet day

The carpets are beautiful. Made of natural materials and in bright colours. Like the people in Kyrgyzstan, who seem to be so soft and welcoming. But then again, it can quickly become an explosive situation here. Some say the clan structure is to blame. People only respect authority from their own clan members. Last week two members of different clans got caught in a bloody physical fight in parliament. It was broadcast live on TV.
06 Apr 2011, Lino Hellings

Hollywood smile

Lamb is the favourite food of the Kyrgyz and sheep's head, known as bash, is an outstanding national delicacy.
08 Apr 2011, Raisat Musaeva

Expensive traditions

Each year the Kyrgyz population spends about 2 billion dollars on weddings and funeral preparations. When a man dies, his family should slaughter a sheep, cow or horse to feed people who will come to their home to pray. And this is repeated on the 7th and 40th day after the death, and every year on the anniversary of the death. Poor families often must borrow money to do this, and work hard for a long time to repay it.
05 Apr 2011, Nargiz Chynalieva

Daylight lamp

Hydroelectric stations produce enough energy to cover the population's needs and sell the surplus to other countries. Energy consumption in Kyrgyzstan is careless. Rising energy prices caused by selling too much electricity abroad were said to be one of the causes of the latest revolution.
03 Apr 2011, Nargiz Chynalieva


People, fences, houses and roads are made up of a patch work. We recognise the traditional patchwork style in the quilts that are aired on early spring days. We see the patchwork in the maintenance of roads, buildings and the electricity network. In and around buildings you see many more or less creative solutions to everyday problems.All the pipelines except the sewer system are above ground. They form a creative knitting and knotting network along the roads, forming arches at the entrances of the courtyards of apartment buildings. The many fences are 'readymade' of a quality of which an artist might be jealous. And everywhere there is the dangerous material asbestos - in roofs, fences, the cladding of the hot water pipes for city heating. In the netherlands when asbestos is found somewhere, men in hazmat suits come to remove it; here children play with it. The Soviet era is still visible everywhere. In the buildings but also in traditions such as Subbotnik, a collective spring clean up. Meanwhile the new capitalist economy is evident in the casinos, beauty salons and nightclubs. The American military is not visible in the city but you know the uS Air Force base, where the troops depart for Afghanistan, is not far away. After the collapse of the Soviet union, the statue of Lenin was simply moved to the back of the government building. The majority of Bishkek's Muslims pray at Lenin's feet. Every person in Bishkek carries multiple identities, so they say.


The frames from hospital beds are used as a fence. Loveliness doesn't have to be expensive. This is an example of the cheapest way of 'recycling'; the hospital beds are born again, but now play another, decorative role.
10 Apr 2011, Samat Mambetshaev

Brushes to paint trees

Every spring everybody cleans up the area around their houses and paints trees. This is a custom from the Soviet times. People call it 'Subbotnik' because they usually do it on Saturdays.
10 Apr 2011, Tatyana Mihnevich

Kyrgyz girl of free style

In the picture you can see a Kyrgyz girl, Meka. She looks like a foreigner because her pose is free. That is not common for Asian women. Her body language is that of a child. She is free in her emotions.
15 Apr 2011, Tatyana Zelenskaja

Twisted mirror

Many nightclubs and casinos have been built in the city recently. This is one of them.
15 Apr 2011, Tatyana Zelenskaja