Accepted Paper:

Showing the unsayable: the representation of shamanism in contemporary video art from Kirgistan  


Natalie Goeltenboth (LMU M√ľnchen)

Paper short abstract:

Neo-Shamanism and its practice is an important topic in contemporary video art from Kirgistan due to the revival of the local indigenius religions after the end of the sovjet regime in 1991. How do artists from Kirgistan interprete the relation between video as an artistic medium and the concept of shamanism and in which terms are the tapes interpreted in international galeries? What lies on the bottom of the decision for the medium video in oder to transport an unsayable experience?

Paper long abstract:

Since the fall of the soviet regime in 1991, followed by revolutions in 2005 and 2010, Kirgistan is still involved in a process of searching for a new political and cultural identity. Hand in hand with the claim for a new kirgisian way of modernity neo-shamanistic practices where revived. In this context a new generation of artist, still affected by the highly traditional soviet education in the Academies of Art broke new ground participating in international biennials like in Venice. The artists adopted themselves rapidly to the concept of contemporary art and are nowadays producing video-clips, installations and concept-art. In my paper I will speak about Shaarbek Amankul an artist from Bishkek who was filming his friends and relatives in their shamanistic healing rituals. One of his works shows the face of a shaman at work, showing the deep expression of pain and compassion during the ritual. A video that then has been shown around the world in the big temples of contemporary art. I will first focus on the relation between the medium video and the understanding of shamanism from the point of view of the artist. In a second step I will show the different terms in which the unsayable of the act has been interpreted in different contexts. The last question would be if Amankuls tapes are to be understood as a concession to the dictate of a western understanding of art or as an autonomous selection of a medium that is disposed to transport the transcendent.

Panel W126
Anxious visions and uncertain images