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Sotheby's announces first ever selling exhibition of contemporary art from central Asia and the Caucasus
Mirages of Communism # 1 by Alimjan Jorobaev, 1994, black & white print, 60 x 100cm. Courtesy: Laura Bulian Gallery, Milan.

LONDON.- Sotheby's announces ‘At The Crossroads’, the first ever selling exhibition of Contemporary Art from Central Asia and the Caucasus. This pioneering exhibition, which encompasses art from the mountains of Caucasus to Kazakhstan’s steppe and the Chinese borders, will take place at Sotheby’s New Bond Street premises in London from Monday, March 4th until Tuesday, March 12th 2013.

‘At The Crossroads’ will include around 50 contemporary artworks in various media by artists from across Central Asia and the Caucasus, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The exhibition will showcase non-conformist as well as socialist-realist art from the 1960s, right the way through to emerging contemporary practices.

Commenting on this pioneering initiative, Jo Vickery, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby’s Russian Art Department in London, said: “Countries throughout the Caucasus and Central Asia have experienced rapid growth in recent years and this is also true of the art scene there. New collectors, art institutions and galleries are emerging every day, and it is an exciting new geography for Sotheby’s to explore. We are therefore delighted to present this landmark selling exhibition, which encompasses the diverse artistic practices of the region that combine ancient historical roots with techniques at the forefront of contemporary art.”

The aim of this exceptional exhibition is to highlight the diverse cultural expressions of the region, while exploring its shared Soviet past. The title ‘At The Crossroads’ suggests the transitory stage in which the countries from the region find themselves, both socio-politically and in terms of artistic production. Having emerged from the communist USSR some 20 years ago, these countries are rapidly progressing towards Western ideals of capitalism, which is transposed on their pre-communist traditions and a shared – and lingering – socialist past. The exhibition highlights art that has emerged from the region and searches for its new identity, with practices stemming from both institutionalised Socialist Realism and Non-Conformist Art of the 1970s and 1980s. Geographically located between East and West, the artists from these countries also combine tradition and folklore with contemporary Western practices.

Among the highlights of the exhibition is Alimjan Jorobaev’s Mirages of Communism #1, 1994. This works is part of the photographic series that the artist developed during the turbulence of the breakdown of the Soviet Union, when he travelled his native Kyrgyzstan in search of symbols of the past. From old propaganda slogans to derelict statues of Lenin, these once-glorified symbols of Communism heralded the emergence of a new hope for a better future of democracy and capitalism. In this work a Cyrillic road sign Коммунизм is set in the distance against the background of the Tian Shan Mountains. The punctum of this photograph is the road leading away from the place of communism, as the sign reads in reverse, towards an open-ended continuity of the historical narrative.

Sotheby's | Contemporary Art | Jo Vickery |

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