In 1998, the government of Kazakhstan relocated the capital to Astana and held an open international competition for a new master plan. Metabolist architect Kisho Kurokawa was awarded the First Prize. Instead of imposing an artificial form on the city, he proposed an open city of indeterminate form, a symbiosis of the old Soviet city and the new Kazakh city, a living city that never stops growing, where people can respond flexibly to later changes. In 2000, the implementation of Kurokawa’s eco-city was seriously compromised after the local government started to devise their own general plan. Later on, a government-orchestrated building boom has thoroughly transformed the city. Designed by internationally famous architects and studios, the high-profile projects have been playing a significant role in image propaganda in order to establish a post-Soviet national identity and step up to the international stage.

CLOUD COATING (2022) is co-created with Jianling Zhang. Intrigued by the unrealized plan of Kisho Kurokawa, we look into how local people nickname the landmark architectures. We consider nicknaming as a playful strategy to reimagine the existing architectures. During two months' residency, we are immersed in the countless glittering facade of Astana, wondering what exactly they are reflecting. Through the three-channel video work, we attempt to trigger people's intimate and sometimes fictional encounters with glass.

In the documentary video, we filmed the working scene of Nurmaganbetov Zhandos Bagdatuly, Shoragulov Meirambek and Shahmardan Zharkynbek (from company Alp NS) on the curved glass surface of Expo, the world's largest spherically-shaped building.



Screenshot from video (second channel)

In the workshop, kids are invited to draw on the panoramic windows of Astanalyk, overlapping with the sky and cityscape outside. Their drawings revolve around topics including: for whom is Astana built; what is missing outside the window; how to reconstruct existing nicknames into the buildings of probability; how to transport a building and so on. (Participators: Goncharova Kira, Abdikali Amelia, Mustafin Amir, Safurin Alikhan, Selina Radmila, Baksikova Alina, Magauiya Nurkhayat, Ismailova Sofia, Ten Alana; Cameraman: Zhanik Imankulov)


Screenshot from video (third channel)

In Almaty, we filmed with actress Assemgul Ibrayeva and actor Symbat Tlebaldy from Nomad Stunt, together with cameraman (Arafat Aytuganuly, Daniel Bayandin) and prop master Bayteliev Alizhan. The story takes place in a seemingly ancient town, under closer look, the modern construction materials start to reveal themselves under the facade. The two characters are guarding and transporting glasses, which mysteriously trigger obsessions and hallucinations.

CLOUD COATING is supported by Goethe Institut and Erwin und Gisela Steiner Stiftung. Special thanks also go to: Gulmira Shandybajewa, Gulnara Nurgaleyeva, Baur Jean Sagi, Violetta Bogdanova, Leile Hanafia and Samal Zhunisova.


Screenshot from video (first channel)

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