Firouz FarmanFarmaian: Gates Of Turan Kyrgyz Republic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Commissioner: Saltanat Abdyldaevna Amanova
Curator: Janet Rady
Persian-born international contemporary artist Firouz FarmanFarmaian has drawn on his shared tribal heritage with the Turanic nomads of Kyrgyzstan and his socially engaged practice to create an immersive post-tribal installation for The Kyrgyz Republic Pavilion. Exploring the lived experiences of Kyrgyz’s modern day nomadic communities, Gates of Turan illuminates the very fabric of Kyrgyz tribal identity, tracing the thread of memory from modern day Kyrgyzstan through to a shared tribal ancestry.
Significantly, Firouz FarmanFarmaian is the great-nephew of the Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (1922-2019), who exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1958, where she was awarded a Gold Medal for her work. As an exile from Iran’s 1979 Revolution, Firouz’s life in Europe and North Africa has profoundly influenced his socially engaged practice. History, identity, the immaterial substance of memory and the post-tribal inform his work. He seeks to actively engage in bridging dialogues between past and future, East and West, as well as craft and technology. His social engaged practice of immersion within tribal and nomadic cultures from North Africa to Central Asia underpins his retrofuturist sensibilities and ecological preservationism. His practice possesses a spontaneous energy alongside a deeply symbolic quality that interrogates a multiplicity of currents in post-tribalism, ethnogenesis, politics and philosophy.
Firouz FarmanFarmaian’s multi-sensory installation for The Kyrgyz Republic Pavilion will feature eight hand-stitched, hand-felted Shyrdaks, designed by the artist to represent the tribal banners of the nomadic communities of ancient Turan. Set against a black background, the banners lead to a monumental Tündük—the central copula of traditional Kyrgyz yurt—suspended naked from the ceiling to form the central point of a meeting place, carpeted with white Yak felt. Throughout the installation the manipulation of light, colour, sound and shadow will use disembodied sculptural illuminations and soundscapes to animate the spirit of Turanic nomadic culture.
Expanding on the post-tribal investigations inherent to his work; Firouz FarmanFarmaian spent eight months working with the Altyn Kol Women Handicraft Cooperative in The Kyrgyz Republic. “Altyn Kol”, meaning “golden hands”, is a female led cooperative that continues to preserve the Kyrgyz tradition of hand crafting Shyrdaks and Ala-Kiiz, the hand stitched colorful felt floor-coverings used in Kyrgyz yurts, made only in Naryn and Issyk-Kul—the remote highland regions of The Kyrgyz Republic.
Minister of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy of The Kyrgyz Republic, Mr. Azamat Zhamankulov, has said: “This is a historic moment for The Kyrgyz Republic. Being able to celebrate the craftsmanship and creativity of the Kyrgyz people on an international scale is an incredible achievement, and this pavilion is a testament to what our country has to offer the global art community.
Artist Firouz FarmanFarmaian has said: “Building on the foundations of my post-tribal explorations, the Gates Of Turan presents a multilayered installation-exhibition exploring The Kyrgyz Republic’s immemorial nomadic mythical cosmogony. Through the transforming prism of socially engaged practice, I incepted a dynamic collaborative exchange with Kyrgyz craftswomen and master yurt makers in the country’s highlands. An Ecology of Soul—The Gates Of Turan bridges concepts of past and present, material, and immaterial, contemporary, and archaic in order to reconnect and support Kyrgyz crafts.”
Curator Janet Rady has said: “I am delighted to be part of this historic moment for the Kyrgyz people, and through the artistic vision of Firouz FarmanFarmaian, to be bringing their incredible work to a global audience at the 59th International Venice Bienna