As a socially conscious artist whose principal medium is video installations, Almagul Menlibayeva, who lives between Almaty and Berlin, has already been invited to show her work in a wide range of art centres and events, most notably the last Venice Biennale (2015).
This exhibition presents a brand new installation designed especially for the Salon d'honneur at the Grand Palais. The RMN-Grand Palais is co-producing this event as part of its artistic partnership with Kazakhstan, in collaboration with "Astana EXPO-2017" as a prelude to the International Exhibition “EXPO-2017” that will take place in the Kazakh capital between 10 June and 10 September next year.
With this custom-made installation, called "Transformation", Almagul Menlibayeva is taking over the monumental space of the Grand Palais Salon d'honneur (a 1,200 m2 rectangle with nearly 17-metre-high ceilings). Without dividing the space in any material way, the artist slices, cadences and inhabits the Salon d'honneur with her installation of an original creation made up of multiple screens and projections of a series of works that intermingle, contrast and communicate with one another, as well as a synchronised sound installation. This immersive installation also features an original carpet designed by the artist, in a contemporary interpretation of Kazakhstan's most traditional creative medium.
Using the work Kurchatov 22 (2013) the artist explores the disastrous impact of the repeated nuclear tests (1949-1991) in the town of Kurchatov when Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Empire. Here, Menlibayeva presents a new format of the installation, combining two new videos produced specially for the exhibition.
Tokamak (2016) returns to the town of Kurchatov to film a new latest-generation nuclear reactor, an ultra-sophisticated fusion system now used for civil nuclear power but which necessarily echoes the region's military history.
Finally, Astana (2016) – named after the new capital of Kazakhstan since 1991, built in just a few years on a desert steppe – attempts to comprehend the transformation process of a landscape and a society through the futurist architecture of this 21st century city and the major works in preparation for the Astana “EXPO-2017”.
Examining the combination of history, architecture and science and the transformation processes of a society through this fresco of the Kazakhstan of yesterday and tomorrow, Almagul Menlibayeva delivers a piece of global significance.