Born in 1964 in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, Erbossyn Meldibekov graduated from the Almaty Theatre and Art Institute, where he currently lives and works.
Through drawing, installation, painting, photography and video, his practice explores the role of visual culture in the dissemination of power in Post-Soviet Central Asia, following the region’s independence from Russian imperialism in 1991.
For more than two decades he has created a unique practice that critiques the role of architecture, monumentality and values systems in the public domain. His practice reveals the region’s complex position, which exists at the intersection of Stalin’s totalitarian regime, the shadow of heroes of the epic past, and an ongoing legacy of the “Great Game” implicating neighboring Afghanistan’s historical and current role in the stability of the region.
Illuminating several of his conceptual inquiries concerning the role of architecture is the photographic series Family Album (2009-11). Within this series he collates photographs of his family against public monuments in the region taken before and after the collapse of the USSR, documenting the eradication of Lenin and Stalin’s image from the public space, and their replacement with national heroes such as Tamerlane or Genghis Khan, as a means of controlling the masses away from Soviet dogmas towards patriotic nostalgic pilgrimage.
Multiple references to the “Great Game” and instability in the region find their expression within the incongruity of the bronze sculpture Grandfather and Child (2011). The piece features the busts of the forefather of the communist movement Vladimir Lenin next to the late Taliban terrorist Tahir Yuldashev, a former staunch communist. Through the use of irony and dark humor Meldibekov explores the scared and the profane and the relationship between the two nemesis: communism and Islam to tease out cultural and social discrepancies and the inherent contradictions that exist between the two.
He has exhibited internationally, with recent notable exhibitions including Punk Orientalism, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Saskatchewan, Canada, (2019); Eurasian Utopia: Post Scriptum, Suwon I’Park Museum of Art, Suwon, Korea (2018); Eternal Return, Suns and Neons above Kazakhstan, YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku (2017); Eternal Return, A. Kasteev Museum of Arts, Almaty, Kazakhstan (2015); the 6th Moscow Biennale (2015); the 9th Gwangju Biennale (2012) and the Central Asia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011 and 2015).