The (Dis)order of Things is the first UK solo show of internationally renowned contemporary Kazakh artist Erbossyn Meldibekov, whose epic installations have gained critical acclaim and have been exhibited at international biennials, galleries and museums.
Curated by the writer and curator Sara Raza, the exhibition's title is adapted from the French thinker Michel Foucault’s seminal text The Order of Things (Les mots et les choses), published in 1966, the exhibition’s title is a play on the social, cultural, economic and political upheavals in the post-Soviet landscape of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, which obtained its independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Central to Meldibekov’s practice is his examination of these tensions by adopting a variety of personalities ranging from epic Mongol warrior to shaman or political prisoner, to challenge and provoke regimented systems of order within Central Asia and beyond. By attempting to locate the region’s position and relationship to Asia and the Islamic world within a post 9/11 climate, the artist does not shy away from highlighting Kazakhstan’s position in world politics as the oil-rich republic begins to establish itself as a major Asian emerging market.
Articulated through a variety of media such as performance, installation, sculpture and new media, Meldibekov’s exhibition transforms the gallery into a cabinet of curiosities brimming with re-appropriated symbols of East and West to create objects, which are at once familiar and foreign. This can be seen in the series of traditional Iznik-style Turkish plates, the centrepiece imagery of which is replaced by clichéd images of barbaric Islamic stereotypes and US army vehicles, a series of drawings of Asian weapons that blur historical war vehicles with futuristic design, and a Persian carpet made entirely from the pigments of metal brushes, which extends the metaphor for the domestic space as both a friendly and hostile environment.