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The Center for Contemporary Art in Tashkent.
The Center for Contemporary Art in Tashkent.

Uzbekistan’s First Center for Contemporary Art Opens in Tashkent

The Center for Contemporary Art, a new institution in Tashkent, the capital and largest city in Uzbekistan, opened its doors on April 12. Located in a 1912 building designed by architect Wilhelm Heinzelmann—whose other projects range from the Uzbek Industrial-Construction Bank to the former Palace of the Grand Duke Nikolay Konstantinovich Romanov—the venue is the country’s first space dedicated to modern and contemporary art.

Prior to being transferred to Uzbekistan’s ministry of culture in 2018, the facility was occupied by a diesel power station, which operated the first tram line in the city, until the Russian Revolution of 1917, and was then home to the Tashkent City Enterprise of Electric Grids for many years.

Organized by Gayane Umerova, the deputy executive director of the ministry of culture’s Art and Culture Development Foundation, the center’s inaugural program will run until June 1 and consists of performances, lectures, seminars, film screenings, and an exhibition of recent video works by artist and filmmaker Saodat Ismailova.

“Our initial focus is on interdisciplinarity, with plans to tie practices in contemporary art, filmmaking, educational initiatives, experimental theatre productions and modern choreography to the institutional forms we find new for us—multimedia laboratories, art residencies and workshops for children,” Umerova said. “It will lay the foundation for our future-oriented development.”

The exhibition, titled “Qo’rg’on Chiroq” (Light on the Hill), features Ismailova’s video poem Zukhra, which made its debut at the Central Asian pavilion of the Fifty-Fifth Venice Biennale, as well as a new work on the extinct Sogdian language. It is curated by Andrea Lissoni, senior curator of Tate Modern in London, and the Milan- and Moscow-based architecture firm GRACE, led by Ekaterina Golovatyuk and Giacomo Cantoni.

Other highlights include Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls), a musical performance directed by Ismailova with music by composer Dmitry Yanov-Yanovsky, and screenings of films by the well-known Uzbek director Ali Khamraev. The center will also host a film program and a series of workshops presented by the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.

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