Save Bozzhyra/ Сохраним Бозжыра

Askhat Akhmedyarov / Асхат Ахмедьяров

2022

Video, 11 min.
Materials:

Collection: M HKA, the Shagylys collection (Inv. no. S0730).

Askhat Akhmedyarov has long been involved in environmental activism, criticising Soviet colonial practices of forced modernisation as well as today's reckless construction developments implemented at the expense of local ecology. Save Bozzhyra is a rare video documentation of his protest action, bringing attention to the fate of the unique natural tract that faced the danger of destruction due to new construction plans. Recently a popular tourist destination, Bozzhyra has long been a sacred place of Tengrism, an ancient belief originating in the Eurasian Steppes and associated with shamanism and animism. Accompanied by an environmental activist who carried a flag with the inscription in Kazakh "Bozjyrany Saqtaiyq" (Save Bozzhyra), the artist, dressed as a shaman, headed to the House of Ministries in Astana. Traditionally perceived as an intermediary between humans and the spirits of nature, the image of a shaman refers to the nomadic cultural values forgotten in the capital city. Embodying the shaman character and performing a "rite of purification", the artist appeals to the latent vitality of the myth in the subconscious of modern Kazakhstan. The action immediately attracted police attention, and yet the officers faltered before eventually arresting the artist. In the country where mass rallies and even individual actions are brutally repressed by the regime, the authority of the shaman still inspires awe.

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