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Nif-Nif & Nuf-Nuf

His solo show at the SCCA Almaty is a response to the shameless land speculation in Kazakhstan.
By Ekaterina Reznikova | May 2007

Georgy Tryakin-Bukharov - the representative of the Almaty underground of the 1980’s - belongs to a group of artists who created topical social projects with a sharp political subtext. During the Soviet period, his works contained protest against the communist utopia; today, they are topical politicized expressions and antagonistic challenges that come in the form of art. His art brings together the traditions of pop art and conceptualism, the elements of collage and the readymade.

After the 80’s, the traditional sculpture in the work of Tryakin-Bukharov was gradually transformed into objects and installations. He often uses found items or objects that have already been in use (old chairs, tables that have spilt paint over them, emptied toothpaste tubes, old reproductions and photographs, etc.) that carry information from past years. Looking into his material, the artist can see the perfect profile of Nefertiti in the butt of a rifle or the face of Pushkin in the soft upholstery of a chair’s seat. In the process of working on the art project, the artist creates visual and tactile space that is based on associations.

Even though Georgy Tryakin-Bukharov has been participating in exhibitions since 1974, his first solo exhibition will be held on April 27, 2007. The main heroes of this exhibition in the Soros Center for Contemporary Art – Almaty are the piglets Nif-Nif and Nuf-Nuf. The artist gives his own interpretation to this plot of the popular English fairy tale - better known to the post-Soviet reader in the interpretation of Sergei Mikhalkov – by creating an analogy between the situation of defenseless piglets/failures and the condition of contemporary society. In today’s Kazakhstan, a person is vulnerable and can’t protect himself and could lose his house, the roof over his head, and become homeless like Nif-Nif and Nuf-Nuf, who lost their houses to the wolf. In reality, this does not happen because of some natural disaster, but because of shameless land speculation. The young sovereign country is undergoing the early capitalist stage in which oil money and free banking resources are invested in the acquisition of land. There is a thoroughly planned strategy of acquiring every little but nonetheless expensive piece of land. As a result, the strongest wins, and a person becomes the victim of other people who have power and money.

For the exhibition "Nif-Nif & Nuf-Nuf", Tryakin-Bukharov has created two objects. A huge pig head, more than two and a half meters tall, is situated in the small hall of the exposition and takes up all available space. The author uses the materials of plumbing: an enamel bathtub, the bottoms of shower cabins, sinks, and even a toilet bowl. One’s head can barely fit into the narrow space of the small hall. In order to get in, a viewer must wedge in between walls.

The small pig head in the larger space symbolizes the globe, earth, more generally. The structural elements carry the most information: steel dishes, a bike wheel that imitates the arch of the globe, two flatirons that make up the ears, a hinge with a carving, a piece of mortar that depicts a bit of snot has a symbolic indication of price – 2 roubles 90 kopeks – that was what one kilogram of pork cost in the Soviet period. The old used things carry the energy of the old times. Nif-Nif and Nuf-Nuf, exhibited by Tryakin-Bukharov, can be perceived as both the victims and the cause of their own misfortunes and the disasters that befell them.

The interior walls of the exhibition space contain photo reproductions of the artist’s studio, which, like his home and creative laboratory and the gallery, is subject to demolition. The opening day of the exhibition is also the last day of the activity of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art – Almaty in the building 171 on Tulebaev Street [1]. The construction company will soon demolish the building that for ten years housed various exhibitions, seminars, conferences, and trainings, where artists gathered not only from Kazakhstan, but also from Great Britain, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the USA, France, India, and Italy. Here, the developers will build an ultramodern, expensive housing complex. And there people will live happily ever after.


Ekaterina Reznikova

Art critic, Ph.D. in Art. Lives in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Head of the excursion's section at the Department of Exhibition Guide, Kasteev State Museum of Arts.

(From the Russian: Zhanara Nauruzbayeva)

Nif-Nif & Nuf-Nuf
Solo show by Georgy Tryakin-Bukharov

April 27, 2007

The opening day of the exhibition was also the last day of the activity of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art, Almaty in its present location. The exhibition will go on until the construction company demolishes the building, and will even continue existing in its ruins.

Soros Center for Contemporary Art

171 Tulebayeva
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Curator: Dastan Kozhakhmetov

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