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Woman with frilled dress, kneeling in a brown dry grass field with large patterned fabric draped beside her.

Almagul Menlibayeva: My Silk Road to You and Nomadized Suprematism

May 1–September 2, 2024

Free Exhibition

While this exhibition is free to enjoy, we recommend purchasing Museum admission to fully experience our Collections and special exhibitions.

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Almagul Menlibayeva (born 1969 in Almaty, Kazakhstan) is an award-winning Kazakh-German artist who works in photography, multi-channel video, and mixed-media installations. Through her photographs, Menlibayeva interprets the multilayered realities of post-socialist Central Asia.

Presented as part of the CONTACT Photography Festival, the two-part exhibition highlights Menlibayeva’s series My Silk Road to You, an outdoor installation in the Aga Khan Park, and Nomadized Suprematism, on display in the Museum’s Lower-Level Gallery.

My Silk Road to You

Located in the Aga Khan Park, My Silk Road to You immerses visitors in a world where textiles become the connecting thread of Central Asia’s history and culture, extending from China to Iran and into Russia and Europe.

The works invite viewers to step into a realm where past and future merge. They consider the roles of women and girls in Central Asia today, who act both as custodians as well as symbols of modernity, culture, and enduring mythology. Their portraits are set against the backdrops of major historical shifts, extending back to the empires of Genghis Khan to the Timurids and Karakhanids, through to the trials of Soviet modernism; and the invisible nuclear contamination from military test sites.

Menlibayeva creates images that reference the Silk Roads and explore the contemporary impact of these routes on cultures and identities in the region.

“I engage with the woman’s image, casting her as a figure of formidable strength and courageous spirit, spanning from antiquity to the present with a mysterious past. My work seeks to illuminate the rich tapestry of Central Asia and Siberia—regions ripe with diverse, yet lesser-known cultural narratives. I have an opportunity to develop the aesthetics of these regions into contemporary art and to discover interesting facts in the process.” — Almagul Menlibayeva

Nomadized Suprematism

Located in the Lower-Level Gallery, Nomadized Suprematism is an artistic analysis of historical shifts that have touched the lives of people across the Eurasian continent. These works invite viewers to think differently about the Silk Roads by framing them through the context of Soviet industrial modernization. The photographs capture the complexity of an era in which an ancient nomadic civilization and its economy collapsed due to these forces.

The women depicted in this series are in search of a new sense of humanity—creating new identities in response to the dystopia that arose after the collapse of modernist utopian ideals.

Photographs from various Soviet projects, including the Nuclear Polygon, or the ecological disaster of the Aral Sea, present perspectives on a modern world where women in particular are experiencing dramatic socio-cultural shifts.

The exhibition aims to reflect on and critique complex social, technological, and ecological issues of the present. It highlights how global actions and decisions impact local communities while condemning the unfair distribution of ecological risks and burdens.


Curators: Marianne Fenton and Dr. Sascha Priewe