Almagul Menlibayeva
Biology of cords, 2015
Lunar Breakfast, 2015
Movement of balls, 2015
Almagul belongs to the first generation of post-Soviet Kazakh artists. They all started their artistic careers in the early 1990s and faced many recognition issues, impossible to avoid given the circumstances. What in fact should the art of a new country look like? What are its traditions and origins? Looking for answers to these questions was considered to be an intriguing and creative task: so the answers were not so much sought as they were invented.

Thus, Almagul Menlibayeva created her own imaginary East, which she improved, referencing Tengrism, Shamanism, Sufism, ancient Persian mythology, Nestorianism and other spiritual traditions, that passed through the territory of Central Asia. This ideological and poetical construction features in the author's hybrid mythology, with its own narrative epos, set of stable leitmotifs and cultural heroes. Her mythology is primarily a creation myth. This is where the cosmogonic motifs of her works – planets, stars, motifs of nature and basic elements (water, light, air, earth) – come from. As in many creation mythologies there are ore, clay, wax, milk or honey – considered to be primitive materials from which all things were created. Menlibayeva sees felt as a primitive material, prompted by her Central Asian upbringing. Finally, like in any myth, the basic elements are held in counterpoint and in in- extricable connection: for example, she shows Yin and Yang as the antipodes, intended to over- lap each other. The image of the world as the combination of differences usually involves freedom from dialectics of development and formation: existence in myth is always self-sustaining in its perpetual return. This circular motion itself is the state from which the world is being born.

This mythologem – creation of a world by circular motions – is embodied in Menlibayeva's works – quite literally. She created spherical planetary elements, braiding felt in the washing machine. This extremely mundane appearance of her creation mythology is represented in her graphic series. What seems to be paintings of cosmogonic mystery, in fact is a photodocumentation of the rotating drum of a washing machine. Thus the artist makes it clear that neomythology lies at the basis of her poetics, combining motifs of imaginary archaism with personal life experience. Therefore, the driving of the universe mechanism, an image of machina mundi, can be represented in her work by a household device, and the basic disjunction of everything masculine and feminine can be represented by the wires with connectors labelled 'Mom' and 'Dad'. Thus Menlibayeva's neomythology is characterized by a specifically modern feature, unknown to ancient myths creators – the capacity for irony.
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