About Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan to present Tashkent Modernism. Index project in the exhibition in Milan
14 April 2023
Uzbekistan to present Tashkent Modernism. Index project in the exhibition in Milan

The Fund for the Development of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan will present the exhibition project Tashkent Modernism. Index at the 23rd International Triennale Milano on 17-23 April 2023 in Italy’s Milan.

Comparing Armin Linke’s photographs with some archival materials, the exhibition weaves together images and narratives of 20 modernist buildings in Uzbekistan’s capital, exploring key themes in the city’s architectural, social and cultural history. Redrawing the landscape of Tashkent through striking images, the exhibition rediscovers its modernist architecture and presents a reflection of the colonial, postcolonial and decolonial aspects of the Soviet social and cultural experiment.” – as quoted on the official website of the exhibition. 

From 17 to 23 April 2023, the 23rd International Exhibition Triennale Milano will be held in Milan, Italy. As part of the Triennale Milano, the first public presentation of the Tashkent Modernism exhibition will take place. Index., initiated by the Fund for the Development of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan together with the Grace agency.

The preparation of the project was attended by international specialists in the field of architecture, and history, and experts in the preservation of cultural heritage, including the Polytechnic University of Milan, Boris Chukhovic and Laboratorio Permanente. The purpose of the exhibition is to document, interpret and preserve the modernist architecture of Tashkent city.

Using images and narratives selected by researchers from 20 buildings in the city, the exhibition explores key themes related to the architectural, social and cultural history of Tashkent and the current state of cultural heritage sites of Uzbekistan’s capital.

Soviet modernism in Tashkent is shown as a unique artistic, cultural and social phenomenon that can adequately reflect the specific nature of "Soviet modernization" in Central Asia. The project reflects the colonial, postcolonial and at the same time decolonial aspects of the Soviet social and cultural experiment. After World War II, Tashkent was designated as the capital of the Soviet East, a showcase for socialism in the East. The uniqueness of Tashkent modernism stems from the tension between the desire to embody the socialist East in architecture and the desire for a more subtle understanding of local culture by local and Moscow architects.

The exhibition consists of two intertwined parts: photographs by Armin Linke and archival documentation revealing research narratives and strategies for the preservation of modernist monuments.

The work of Armin Linke raises an important question about the nature of images. Today, photography has become not just a reflection of reality, but also an independent, multi-valued reality. The exhibition maintains a critical attitude towards the image, treating it as an additional layer. The purpose of the exhibition is to avoid the clichés that have developed over the past 15 years in the representation of Soviet modernism, when the buildings of modernism were portrayed out of context and extolled as the remains of an exotic, distant and even dead culture. The photographs of Armin Linke are not aimed at perpetuating the beauty of Tashkent modernism, but at revealing its contemporary value. Similar to Agamben's notion of "modernity", defined as a "relationship to (one's) time that adheres to it through displacement and anachronism", these buildings, erected between the 1960s and early 1990s, are perceived as powerful metaphors for rethinking the contemporary Tashkent.

The second part is the archive, which includes fragments of research materials, and analytical and conservation processes. Based on the condition of a particular building, the key themes for understanding Soviet modernism are revealed: the relationship between the center and the periphery; the role of institutions; typological, technological and material experiments; competition between republics; ideology, orientalism, transformations after independence and the current state. The archive also clearly illustrates the repertoire of cultural heritage conservation strategies that have been developed specifically for Tashkent.

The first step in implementing conservation efforts is to ensure that selected buildings are protected by including them on the national list of monuments and describing their significance. Similarly, the preservation and modernization of one of the buildings studied - the former Rest House of the Republic, which will become the new French Center and center for the restoration of art. In the near future, the Center will enter the construction phase. Finally, a cultural (modernist) route will be developed linking the modern buildings of the city, which will be accessible via a mobile application.

“Modern buildings in Tashkent still convey the social and cultural program of the past. At the same time, they are extremely modern. These buildings are very sculptural, with rather complex surfaces - outer and inner shells - that function as a set design for a larger social scenario." — Armin Linke, photographer and filmmaker.


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Did you know?

Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world to be ‘double landlocked’ (landlocked and totally surrounded by other landlocked countries). Liechtenstein is double landlocked by 2 countries whilst Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5!

Did you know that Uzbekistan lies in the very heart of Eurasia, the coordinates for Uzbekistan are 41.0000° N, 69.0000°

Uzbekistan is home to the Muruntan gold mine, one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world! The country has 4th largest reserves of gold in the world after South Africa, USA and Russia

Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter.

It is Uzbek tradition that the most respected guest be seated farthest from the house’s entrance.

Tashkent’s metro features chandeliers, marble pillars and ceilings, granite, and engraved metal. It has been called one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

The Uzbek master chef is able to cook in just one caldron enough plov to serve a thousand men.

When you are a host to someone, it is your duty to fill their cups with for the whole time they are with you.  What you must not do, however, is to fill their cup more than half-full.  If you do that as a mistake, say it is a mistake immediately.  Doing it means you want them to leave.  Wow!  Amazing, right?

To Uzbeks, respect means a whole lot.  For this reason they love it if, even as foreigners, you endeavour to add the respectful suffix opa after a woman's name; and aka after a man's.  Example: Linda-opa and David-aka.  You could also use hon and jon respectively.

Having been an historic crossroads for centuries as part of various ancient empires, Uzbekistan’s food is very eclectic. It has its roots in Iranian, Arab, Indian, Russian and Chinese cuisine.

Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Many distinguished scholars share an opinion that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Indeed, today in the world there were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.

One of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran that was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader, is kept in Tashkent. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. 

Tashkent is the only megapolis in the world where public transport is totally comprised of Mercedes buses. And due to low urban air polution it is one of the few cities where one can still see the stars in the sky.

You would be surprised to know that modern TV was born in Tashkent. No joke! The picture of moving objects was transmitted by radio first time in the world in Tashkent on 26 of July 1928 by inventors B.P. Grabovsky and I.F. Belansky.

Uzbekistan is the only country in the world all of whose neighbours have their names ending in STAN. This is also the only country in Central Asia that borders all of the countries of this region

Uzbeks are the third populous Turkik ethnicity in the world after Turks and Azeris (leaving both in Azerbaijan and Iran)

Did you know that there was silk money in Khiva? Super interesting right? Of course, but the best part of having silk money was that it could be sewn into your clothing.

Famous Islamic physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna in the Latin world) who was born near Bukhara was the one of the first people to advocate using women’s hair as suture material – about 1400 years ago.

Uzbekistan has a long and bloody history. The most notorious leader of Uzbekistan was Timur (or Tamerlane) who claimed descent from Genghis Khan. His military campaigns have been credited for wiping out some 5% of the world’s population at the time.

If you have thought that some of the Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan resembles that from Northern India, then that is because Timur’s great great great Grandson, Babur Beg, was the founder of the Moghul Empire that ruled much of India for almost four centuries! Babur’s great great Grandson was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.

Uzbekistan was once a rum producig country. There is still a real arboretum in Denau (city near Termez on the border with Afghanistan), grown from a selection station that studied the prospects of plant growing in the unusual for the Soviet Union subtropical climate of Surkhandarya region: only here in the whole of the USSR sugar cane was grown and even rum was produced!

Uzbekistan has been ranked one of the safest countries in the world, according to a new global poll. The annual Gallup Global Law and Order asked if people felt safe walking at night and whether they had been victims of crime. The survey placed Uzbekistan 5th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th. Top five safest countries:

  • Singapore
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Uzbekistan
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