Aïda Adilbek
Aïda Adilbek is an artistic practitioner with a theoretical background from Akzar, Almaty, Kazakhstan.

She is most interested in examining and reimagining stories and histories told and untold. Coming from the Central Asian region, where many of the local narratives were silenced by colonial powers, Aida believes that the present offers unprecedented opportunities than ever to reshape history and vocalise opinions.
What if your whole existence is narrowed down to one symbol? What would you choose as your representation? Do you believe it's fair?

During the Soviet Union's campaign to culturally structuralise Central Asian countries as their peripheral colonies, they tried to make them more recognisable to the foreign eye through cultural distinctions. Taking into consideration that Central Asians had very blurry borders with each other, the Soviets not only marked what we see today as geopolitical frontiers of Central Asian countries but also stereotypical images of their cultures in general.

In my work, I try to observe different objects with traditional ornament on them around my hometown, Almaty and sew them into more familiar images. I take pictures of ornamented objects like cars, bins, benches, and murals on buildings, print them on textile material and try to make a patchwork book out of them."
Aida predominantly works with mediums like video, photography, text and performance. Currently, she seamlessly integrates artistic, curatorial, and research practices, engaging in art creation, organising public events and exhibitions, and crafting essays and lectures. Through her multifaceted approach, Aida not only creates art but also sparks dialogue and provokes thought within her community and beyond.
Today, the government's nation-building strategies still repeat the same pattern of objectification of the local culture through images of recognisability. It's either a single ornament, unnecessarily repeated on every surface or a visual of a horse in Kazakhstan, linking us to our nomadic roots.

"I used to find this pattern of distinguishing ourselves from others irritating, however, after lots of discussions, I realised that this is one of the first steps to identify your belongingness for many of my peers. Generational trauma caused by the colonial Soviet policies ripped many of their roots both mentally and physically. Therefore, wearing a T-shirt with a traditional ornament can be just the beginning of finding yourself.