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Nomadic Images Promote Naryn as Cultural Hub

27 September 2022

For four days, Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, was the focal point of an International Conference exploring contemporary and traditional image making practices through the transdisciplinary lens of art, sciences, and culture. From September 22-25, the Nomadic Image Conference attracted artists and international personalities who contributed to this unique cultural extravaganza making it a resounding success.

Organized by the School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Central Asia (UCA), the hybrid online and in-person Conference was a partnership that included diverse institutions such as  the University of New South Wales, Sydney; the Aga Khan Development Network; Ala-Too International University, Bishkek; University of California, Los Angles; University of Plymouth; The Museum of Fine Arts, Bishkek; The Aga Khan Museum, Toronto; Ololohaus, Bishkek; The Regional Museum of Fine Arts, Osh; and i-DAT.ORG.

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A performance of Mother Earth (Jer Ene) by the Youth Experimental Theater "ART Jashoo"

In the open space of mountains, under the vast expanse of moving skies, nomads are the measure of connectivity and movement between human beings and nature. The scene offers insights into the silence of space teeming with creative and resonating moments. Nomads tread the path of curiosity, raising questions about the meaning of the settled state. In this questioning, alternative perspectives arise, leaving the viewer with an uncanny feeling of losing grip on the settled state of being and seeing. There is no better place than Kyrgyzstan, perhaps in the world, that one can experience and appreciate the rising perspectives above the heavy demands of everyday life. A country of mountains and steppes dispersed with moving streams of life that collapse all separation between earth, sky, mortals, and the Divine.

Over 40 local and international scholars and practitioners from a wide range of fields including the arts, science, and culture participated and shared the common theme of “nomadism”, building meaningful bridges among communities across the world.  

The Nomadic Image was much more than an academic conference, and had an important mission to promote Naryn and its region as an educational hub and a destination for cultural tourism. A number of performances and presentations took place on the UCA campus in Naryn as well as in other towns and cities. These included a film festival for emerging directors, exhibitions of art, photography and traditional crafts, theater, fashion, dance, and music. A jury that reviewed these presentations included Dr Soheil Ashrafi, Associate Dean of the UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences, and faculty members, Nursultan Stanaliev and Dr Michael Garbutt, Gulbara Tolomushova (Kyrgyz film critic, film historian, TV director and TV Presenter) and Asel Zhuraeva (Kyrgyz filmmaker and founder of the Fund for Art Females of Asia). The winners of the festival were announced during the Opening Ceremony on 23 September with an exotic fashion show by Kyrgyz designer, Yntymak Abdyldaev. Awards were also distributed for Best Film and Best Visual Solution. The ceremony concluded with an immersive theatrical performance of Mother Earth (Jer Ene) by the Youth Experimental Theater, ART Jashoo, which was arranged by UCA’s Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit.

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Danysh Akylbekov’s film “The Death of a Nomad” won the Best Film Award at the Nomadic Image Conference. L to R: Nursultan Stanaliev, Asel Zhuraeva, Gulbara Tolomushova, Danysh Akylbekov, Dr Soheil Ashrafi, and Dr Michael Garbutt.