Kazakh artist Yerbossyn Meldibekov’s Garage Square Commission project is based on his research into the history of the monuments in Amir Timur Square in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Over the past 100 years the square has had six different names and eight different monuments at its center.
The first monument was to Konstantin von Kaufmann, a Russian military leader who played a key role in the conquest of Central Asia. It was erected under the Russian Empire. After the Revolution it was replaced by a Red Flag monument, followed by Hammer and Sickle, The Beacon of Revolution, statues of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, a stele with the Program of the Communist Party, and finally, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a statue of Amir Timur.
Meldibekov’s installation Transformer is a 4.5-meter wooden construction set with interchangeable pieces based on the square’s former monuments. The installation can be assembled in five different ways and will be rebuilt according to the calendar of Soviet, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Russian, Tajik, and Turkmen state holidays created by the artist.
An ironic comment on the crisis of Central Asian identities, which Meldibekov believes has now continued for over a century, this continuous game of forms, images, and meanings is also a critique of ideological manipulations of the national idea by governments. By turning grand monuments to conquerors and state symbols into a children’s toy, the artist reminds us that entire nations can sometimes be a plaything in someone’s hands.
Curator: Andrey Misiano