Sapar Contemporary in collaboration with Aspan Gallery (Almaty) is pleased to present Beyond Fragmentation: Contemporary Collage from Central Asia. Since antiquity, Central Asia has been a nexus of trade and cultural exchange, where caravans laden with precious goods crisscrossed the desert sands along the Silk Road carrying with them new religions like Buddhism and Islam. Renowned geographer Owen Lattimore (1900–1989) characterized Central Asia as the “Pivot of Asia,” for its importance in shaping and directing global history and cultural exchange.During the nineteenth century, in a conflict dubbed “The Great Game,” the British and Russian Empires jostled over this region, which spans from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, for supremacy over this politically strategic territory rich in natural resources.
Today, Central Asia is a region comprised of a diverse ethnic mixture of diasporic communities and indigenous nomadic tribes, the names of which– Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Tajik, and Uzbek–combined with the Persian suffix “stan” or “land of” to form the five countries that comprise this region. The assemblage art of collage is an ideal artistic technique for encapsulating not only the fragmented cultural multiplicity of Central Asia, but also its complex and multifaceted history. While collage, from the French word coller “to glue,” has a long history dating back to invention of paper in China around 200 BCE, it was in the twentieth century that collage assumed its significance as a quintessential modernist artistic technique for expressing relevant, contemporary issues. The assemblage of multiple layers and fragmented images in collages produce new concepts and ideas from unexpected juxtaposition, that in the process engender new possibilities and meanings. From the photomontage of Vyacheslav Akhunov to the gif-animations of Saule Dyussenbina Beyond Fragmentation offers insight into the geopolitical realities of contemporary Central Asia.