The 90s were for Kazakhstan the years of profound changes. The collapse of Soviet system and declared sovereignty caused lots of problems – almost all exited social relations were destroyed, economy fell into decay, money devaluated. Disoriented people were trying to find some points of rest. Not so long ago private enterprises and market, called “speculation”, were under a ban but then became economic base of new state. The word “privatization” was in fashion at that time. Public socialist property shortly fell into private hands but the most of population got nothing. People had to do something to survive at any cost. Most of them, old pensioners mainly, carried out from their flats everything for sale that was of some value, from their point of view. Almaty streets turned into entire trade zone at that time. Everything was engaged in trade: shabby clothes, cut-glass ware, spoons, militia uniform, nails, vinyl discs, throw-away ware being used already, various books – from classics of Marxism-Leninism to bible…
This phenomenon seemed interesting for us as a process characterizing the time and as an esthetic fact as well. The goods put on the ground represented some original “still life” which could tell everything about the seller – his personal story, passions, skills… We took photos of these objects and bought some of them to express gratitude (usually it was unnecessary things). Some short conversation followed the buying and additional details were clearing up. For example, an old woman was selling two packs of cigarettes that were left by her dead husband. She proposed them to us saying: “What do I need them for? I don’t smoke…” Or another woman that sold us old photos of Soviet actors said that she had a lot of them as had been collecting them from childhood.
These “still lives” as a whole were the picture of epochs change. Close vicinity of ideological symbols – records of Soviet Union anthem – with ragged Barbie dolls made in China or with “famous brand” cosmetics of origin to doubt – could tell a lot. “Eternal” values of communist Past depreciated and were sold for trifling sum side by side with cheap goods of consuming Present. Actually the same phenomenon took place in all the regions of ex-Soviet Union. And now one can face with identical goods at similar bazaars in Russia, Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan. As long as all of us had common history during 70 years, national specificity concedes the international one.
Little by little we made up rather big collection of bought objects and photographed “still lives”. Installing all of them in exhibition space we would like to show interrelated realities – the reality of exhibited object that can be touched, the reality of place documented in photo, where this object was taken from; the reality of each person’s existence (the owner of the object); the reality of time (history); the reality of interpersonal contact eventually.
Translated by Anastassiya Vorobyeva
Yelena Vorobyeva, Viktor Vorobyev. “Bazaar”.
2006, installation, 15th Sydney Biennale, “Zones of Contact”, SCA Galleries, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, Australia
works of various periods