For the tenth and final installment of its exhibition and performance series Re-envisioning Society, TheCube Project Space presents Brooklyn Bridge, an exhibition of video art and photography created in 2012 by Kyrgyz art duo Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev. Based on their experience of living in Soviet society and through the subsequent dissolution of the U.S.S.R., the artists explore how daily life, local economies and livelihoods are impacted by economic and political transformation.
For Brooklyn Bridge, Kasmalieva and Djumaliev used their characteristic video technique to document experiences of Russian-speaking immigrants from one-time Soviet-controlled areas of Central Asia residing illegally in Brooklyn, New York.
Previously, the pair exhibited their five-channel video work A New Silk Road: Algorithm of Survival and Hope at the Third Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition in 2012 at Taipei’s Hong-gah Museum.
About Brooklyn Bridge
Before traveling to New York in May 2009, the artists asked their friends in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek to introduce them to people who had immigrated from Kyrgyzstan to the U.S., in order to interview them about their experiences. In New York, nearly all of the families the artists visited had met other immigrants with similar experiences, due to the rise in illegal immigration from Kyrgyzstan to western countries. In Brooklyn Bridge, the artists continue to focus on the immigrant experience, extending a theme they have been exploring for some time.
Works presented in TheCube Project Space exhibition include a single channel video projection, four interviews shown on television monitors, and three photographs.
The experimental video, projected in slow motion at one-twentieth of its actual speed, is a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge taken while crossing New York’s East River on an adjacent subway line.
The interviews present the stories of two men and two women who immigrated from republics in Central Asia and either later returned home or still live in New York City. Having grown up in Soviet-dominated cultures, the four interviewees tell their life stories in Russian (both English and Chinese subtitles are provided), which include experiences typical of illegal immigrants from many parts of the world. After arriving in the U.S., they worked in the construction or service industries, unable to use the training or skills they had gained back home, even though they may have been educated as doctors, musicians or teachers. Furthermore, they were unable to return home to visit relatives while waiting to obtain legal status in the U.S., which took anywhere from seven to twelve years.
The photographs in the exhibition were taken in Brighton Beach, a section of New York City where many Russian speaking immigrants reside, and present the artists’ observations of an immigrant population that has yet to fully integrate into American society. Although they have dreamt of America since a very early age, some ultimately decide to return after their dreams are destroyed.
Kasmalieva and Djumaliev wish to dedicate this body of work to their friends living in Brooklyn.
About the Artists
Artists Gulnara Kasmalieva (b. 1960) and Muratbek Djumaliev (b. 1965) currently live in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, which is an independent republic in Central Asia once part of the Soviet Union. They received their art educations in Moscow and Leningrad, respectively, prior to 1991 when Kyrgyzstan was still under Soviet rule.
The artists organize and curate the celebrated Bishkek International Exhibition of Contemporary Art. Their work has been presented in a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as at the Venice Biennale, Singapore Biennale, the Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal Biennial, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, the Hong-gah Museum’s Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition in Taipei and many other international museums and biennials. Their work has been reviewed in well-known art publications, including Artforum, Flash Art, Frieze and Art in America. Recently they were recipients of the Prince Claus Award and shortlisted for the Artes Mundi Prize.