Monday, March 7, 2011

The Lost Era in Art

Communism has helped Russia in many ways, it brought education, scientific development, gave people better living conditions, but it suppressed a lot too. To this day there are many great movies that have never been seen because they were "put on the shelf" as it was referred to in those days. Party found them to be unworthy for one reason or another and they have vanished. Similarly a lot of art has vanished. Realism was the only respected art in those days. Many artists kept painting avant-garde. Their works were left hidden and forgotten until Igor Savitskiy started collecting them. He gathered a huge collection, 40,000 works, which he kept in Uzbekistan, one of the republics of Soviet Union. When USSR fell apart and Uzbekistan got it's independence this collection was finally seen and noticed. Many countries expressed a desire to exhibit it, and France and Germany got a chance to display a part of it, but this is where it stopped. Nukus, Uzbekistan, the very city Savitskiy kept this art collection, is now the only place to see it.

Uzbek government doesn't seem to understand why this collection is so important and why anyone would want to see it. They are not letting it be displayed in any other country. Honestly, I'm not surprised. I lived in Uzbekistan for a few years and as much as I love the people, I am not a big fan of their government. Uzbek government is trying to distance themselves from their past as a part of USSR. There is unfortunately a lot of prejudice against Russia and everything that is associated with it. For a country where a huge amount of people speak only Russian it's rather unfortunate for the people. Uzbekistan seems to be taking after USSR though in the way it handles this collection. Those who work on preserving it are now questioned about their traveling to other countries and were forbidden to go to the USA for a screening of Desert of Forbidden Art, a documentary about this collection. Not only that but the government all of a sudden decided they need to demolish one of the buildings the collection is being displayed in. They gave the workers 48 hours to move all art from there. So far this building is exactly where it was and new space was not given as it was promised.

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