Between the Soviet Past and Genghis Khan: Visual Arts in Contemporary Buryatia

By Maria Tagangaeva.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 4, 2014 $US5.00

The paper explores the Soviet and post-Soviet art discourse of the Russian Republic of Buryatia. While during the Soviet time, the art discourse in Buryatia and other national republics of the USSR was considerably influenced by the Soviet nationality policy, the post-Soviet art is being absorbed by the national revival discourse. The Soviet nationality policy fostered a contradictory national discourse that had a crucial impact on arts. The implementation of this discourse on visual arts in the Soviet national republics, as well as the effects on the artistic scene in post-Soviet Buryatia, will be showcased here by looking at the art and artistic career of two artists Dashi Namdakov and Zorikto Dorzhiev. Dashi Namdakov and Zorikto Dorzhiev are visual artists with Buryat roots whose art has become quite popular among the Russian economic and political elite. Sculptor Dashi Namdakov has made a remarkable breakthrough in the Russian art scene with his mysterious bronze statues. Since 2007 his name has become well-known in Russia and abroad as a result of his collaboration with the producer of the film "Mongol" by Sergey Bodrov. His exhibitions in the Tretyakov Gallery, the Hermitage, and the Beijing Museum created a big media stir. Among other projects, he has now been asked to create a statue of Genghis Khan in London. Zorikto Dorzhiev has also carried out one-man shows in prominent exhibition places in Russia and abroad. Their works are obviously inspired by their ethnicity and rooted in Buryat mythology and the Buddhist and Shamanist religions. The artists are particularly notable for two things: firstly, their working practices and career strategies, and secondly, the reception of their art in Russia and abroad. How is the artistic and economic logic combined in their careers? How is their art perceived in the Russian artistic field?

Keywords: Soviet Nationality Policy and Art, National Revival Discourse in Post-Soviet Buryatia, Dashi Namdakov, Zorikto Dorzhiev, Ethnicity and Art, Genghis Khan

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 8, Issue 1, April 2014, pp.23-31. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 4, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 524.444KB)).

Maria Tagangaeva

Ph.D. Candidate, Research Assistant, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Chair of Russian Culture and Society, University of St. Gallen, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland

Maria Tagangaeva is currently a Ph.D. candidate in organization studies and cultural theory at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.