Eurasian Cultural Alliance Public Association
Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty
Nurmakov str, 79

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ALMATY — city/text
Though Almaty is the former capital, it remains the largest city in Kazakhstan. The city is located in a valley in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountain range, exposing the blue and white mountain peaks from the roofs of houses in all directions. Like many outposts of the Russian Em-pire, the city began as a fortress, confirmed by its name Verniy (that means faithful). But back then it wasn't so much stone as it was wooden, with its quiet and shady streets, Lombardy poplar-lined roads, ditches full of water running down from the mountains, and low houses with delicate shutters and porches. Considered the most luxurious were the houses of the Pu-gasov, Shakhvorostov, and Gabduvaliyev merchants. The city was originally created in a clear and well-thought out street grid that promoted uniform air flow in the valley. Then there were powerful earthquakes in 1887 and 1910, which virtually flattened the entire city, but is was rebuilt. Towns-people played an active role in reconstruction, building houses and plant-ing trees. From this came the tradition of planting trees at weddings and for this purpose the seedlings were given for free by the city authorities. It was around this time Berezovaya (birch) and Dubovaya (oak) groves ap-peared around the city, along with a public park (today it is the City Culture and Leisure Park) and the well-known Baum Grove. Later in the Soviet era, the city was renamed Alma-Ata and became the capital. In less than a de-cade, the provincial town had turned into a swanky capital. In building the "Big Alma-Ata" (as the new capital was then called), the all best architects of that time had a role to play: Alexey Shchusev, Aleksandr Gegello, Moisei Ginzburg, Ivan Leonidov, David Krichevsky, and Vladimir Lvov. They cre-ated an innovative building style and typology that defines the present appearance of Almaty today. Here you can see constructivism and a simpli- fied version of the classic 30's, architecture in the national style with ele-ments of national décor from the 40's and the massive Stalin-style of the 50's. The biggest buildings from those years are the Governmen House, the Opera House, the National Bank, the Main Post Office, the Chief Po-litical Administration's building complex, and a living complex for the Stakhanovites and Specialists (the so-called slanting houses). They form the core of the city center. New times have, of course, also changed the city, bringing tall, glass buildings, ornate apartment buildings made of polished stone with an Arab flavor, shopping centers and trendy clubs. But the hallmark of Almaty is still the mountains. Even directions around the city are pleasantly given not horizontally, but in a vertical manner, either "towards the mountains" or "from the mountains," "up" and "down."
Every city has the right to a special celebration of its own. Every artist has the right to implement their ideas and plans and the right to have an
audience and critics. Every viewer has the right to wish to become an artist at least once in their lives. ArtBatFest is a celebration of art, a time for the long-awaited and wonderful transformation of pedestrians into interested viewers. It is a celebration of sculptures, photographs, actors, artists, and, of course, the city's residents. It is smiles and bewilderment, compassion and indignation. It is gigabytes of overflowing digital media. It is: ArtBatFest.

The ArtBatFest Festival of Contemporary Art was created in 2010 at the initiative of a group of art figures, artists, and art historians with the sup-port of local businesses. The site chosen for the Festival was an area on the pedestrian part of Zhibek Zholy Street between Ablai Khan Street and Furmanov Street, popularly called the "Arbat." The name of the Festival – ArtBatFest – came from this location in a harmonious way: Art, Art+Bat (place) and Fest.

ArtBatFest 2010 took place from August 21 to October 2, 2010. The Festival curator was Bayan Barmankulova, a Kazakh art critic and arthisto-rian. The main theme was ecology and environmental protection. The goal was to identify problems such as urban pollution and waste, resource use, recycling, and the relationship between urban and natural spaces through the use of artistic techniques and images of modern art.

ArtBatFest 2011
took place from May 28 to June 25, 2011. Th Fes-tival curator was Dmitry Pilikin, an artist, curator, art critic, and the Assi- stant Director at the Museum of Modern Art at the St. Petersburg State University (Russia). In 2011, the Festival became an international one with participants from Russia, Uzbekistan, and Israel. The focus of the Festival was shifted towards the international public art movement. On top of that, the Festival had a live musical program along with a performance and video art program.

At the end of 2011, the Eurasian Cultural Alliance was founded in Almaty to expand the scope of the Festival and to establish international con-tacts. This organization is now the official organizer of all subsequent ArtBatFests.

ArtBatFest 2012 took place from May 24 to June 24, 2012 with sup-port from the Almaty City Administration. The Festival curator was Nai-lya Allakhverdiyeva, Head of the Public-Art Program at PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art, who proposed the theme for the Festival: the Begin-ning of the World.

What is the near future for the mankind? Are our fears and concerns about the future justified or are all of these fears just a mirage of virtual information? In times of change, how can we keep our integrity and peace of mind? Carried out on the streets in direct contact with city residents, modern art teaches people to look at the city as both a private and public domain. Almaty is changing intensively into a new period of post-Soviet history and today's residents are no longer passive, but active participants in these changes. Therefore, turning interest to "the language of the city" and attentive dialogue with it is one of the goals of the Festival. On the expo grounds of the pedestrian area of Arbat and Republic Square of Al-maty there are extensive and diverse pieces of art created by Kazakhstani artists as well as by Festival guests from abroad such as Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and Italy. Modern art does not play a role of entertainment and does not create cutie images of the future, but in the metaphor of the Festival there is still hope, which as we all know is the last to die.