Almagul Menlibayeva’s practice incorporates photography and video and reflects on history, memory and landscape. Employing an aesthetic she calls ‘Romantic Punk Shamanism’, Menlibayeva delineates an imagined pre-Soviet, pre-Islamic realm incorporating a shamanistic freedom of the human body. In her performance videos, the artist appears often with a group of other women in landscapes and architectures in a complex exploration of power, sexuality and ritual.
Menlibayeva’s photographic lightbox, Wrapping history 2010, dramatically stages the layered cultural history of textile trade and Islamic influence along the silk route; the powerful central figure of a woman wrapped in cloth embodies an abiding witness to tides of influence and transformation. Outlined against the facade of a mosque, the woman is looped in a length of Ikat weaving — a traditional textile style in Kazakhstan. Menlibayeva is one of a number of young artists who have turned to the past and to their overlapping heritages to re-examine individual and cultural histories.