Locals in Taraz, Kazakhstan.
Locals in Taraz, Kazakhstan, with whom the Artpologist Collective will collaborate.

An artist imagines and creates; an anthropologist studies cultures. In cities throughout America, Central Asia and now Kazakhstan, there will soon be hybrid, the “artpologist,” who uses visual representation to understand people and their cultures. Founded in 2007 by U.S.-based anthropologist Zhanara Nauruzbayeva and artists Daniel Gallegos (an Untapped contributor), Gaisha Madanova and Aminatou Echard, The Artpologist Collective aims to combine art and anthropology in social practice art that uses visual mediums to explore urban landscapes. After establishing successful projects in Central Asia and the U.S., Nauruzbayeva is returning to her hometown of Taraz, Kazakhstan. Through a new Kickstarter project, she and Gallegos hope to collaborate with Taraz-based art teacher Gulnara Kospakova and her students to rediscover their city and tell its story. In the long term, the collective aims to compare how people’s backgrounds mold urban spaces around the world. 

One of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan, Taraz is currently at a crossroads between the traditional and the modern. The rapidly growing city, which was a stop on the Silk Road, is home to both ancient mausoleums and industrial factories–both of which are integral parts of its landscape and heritage. The Artpologist Collective will spend the summer conducting a series of workshops with the youth of Taraz, collecting their personal histories. Together, the artpologists and participants will use these histories to document a collective history of Taraz’s urban neighborhoods. Their work will include interactive art performances that draw on local participation and will culminate with a community multimedia art exhibit. The joint effort will be chronicled through a blog and online exhibit. Ultimately, the collective’s goal is to change the way citizens of Taraz view their dynamic home.

With three weeks left in its funding period, the collective is more than halfway to its Kickstarter goal. Funds will support twenty students’ participation, food, art supplies, gallery rental and transportation.

The art group and historian near Taraz on an ancient city ruin.
The art group and historian near Taraz on an ancient city ruin.

Check out The Artpologist’s article on the Best Central Asian Restaurants in NYC: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Follow him on Twitter @DanArtpologist. Get in touch with the author @catku.