The Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center at Indiana University recently celebrated the opening of an exhibition of photographs by Durdy Bayramov, a famous twentieth-century artist from Turkmenistan, at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. This exhibition offers a rare glimpse into daily life among ordinary people in Central Asia prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The exhibition’s official opening also served as an opportunity to welcome to campus Keya Bayramova, the artist’s daughter and Director of the Durdy Bayramov Art Foundation, and His Excellency Meret B. Orazov, Turkmenistan's ambassador to the United States. The exhibition and surrounding events highlight the Center’s work with campus partners to sponsor cultural programming and other events that deepen the understanding of Central Asia among members of the IU community in support of the Hamilton Lugar School’s mission of promoting engagement with global issues.
Durdy Bayramov (1938-2014) is an acclaimed Central Asian artist, who was born and raised in Turkmenistan. Despite growing up in an orphanage, Bayramov overcame challenges early in his life and launched a successful artistic career based upon his formal studies in Ashgabat and Moscow. Perhaps best known for his paintings, Bayramov’s ability to capture the essence of a moment carried over to his skill with photography. Bayramov’s paintings and photographs now comprise an important component Turkimenistan’s artistic heritage, particularly from the Soviet period.
Attendees at the exhibit's opening
The current exhibit, entitled “Through the Eyes of Durdy Bayramov: Turkmen Village Life, 1960s–80s,” contains numerous black and white photographs taken by Bayramov during his frequent travels in rural Turkmenistan. The photographs on display include striking portraits and engaging snapshots of everyday life. The photographs are part of the larger collection of paintings, documents, and books managed by the Durdy Bayramov Art Foundation. IU is the latest in a series of institutions to host these photographs, including the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and the Central Asia Program at The George Washington University.
Keya Bayramova discusses her father's art
The official opening of the exhibit on April 3, 2019 was a festive occasion that included remarks by Bayramova and Orazov. Bayramova reminisced about the time spent with her father while he toured Turkmenistan’s countryside by car, snapping photos along the way. Bayramova also introduced the Durdy Bayramov Art Foundation and the role it plays in promoting not only the legacy of a single artist from Turkmenistan, but also all of Central Asian culture. In his remarks, Orazov celebrated the long history of support for Turkmen language and culture at IU and reaffirmed Bayramova’s assessment of her father’s legacy as an artist who had an unwavering interest in capturing the essence of the people and landscape of Turkmenistan.
Ambassador Orazov discusses Turkmenistan with students and faculty
Earlier in the day, Orazov had the opportunity to meet with faculty, students, and administrators to discuss Turkmenistan’s role in the world and Turkemenistan’s relationship with the United States. William Fierman, Professor Emeritus of Central Eurasian Studies, and Marianne Kamp, Associate Professor of Central Eurasian Studies, moderated the conversation. Orazov fielded questions addressing his interest in traveling around the United States, the role of neutrality in Turkmenistan’s foreign policy, and obstacles in the development of higher education in Turkmenistan, among others. This lively exchange with an official representative of Turkmenistan’s government enriched the attendees' understanding of contemporary affairs in Central Asia.
Ambassador Orazov meets with a student
The free exhibit is on public display at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures until July 26, 2019. The museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting knowledge of the world’s cultures, past and present. In all of its activities, the museum strives to further its audiences’ understanding of both the diversity of the world’s specific cultures and the underlying unity of culture as a human phenomenon.
In 2015, the Durdy Bayramov Art Foundation was established in Toronto, Canada with the aim to cultivate cultural exchange and provide a space where artists are invited to be inspired, create, and explore. The Bayramov Museum is a vital part of the Durdy Bayramov Art Foundation’s mission, and contains the world’s largest collection of Bayramov’s work. The permanent exhibition space features rotating shows of Durdy Bayramov’s work, while temporary exhibition space features special and traveling shows. The Bayramov Library and Archives holds a collection of prized art books amassed by the artist, as well as correspondence, newspapers, magazines, journals, and other related documents. The Foundation is proud to celebrate the power of art and to represent the ancient culture of Turkmen people in the West.
“Through the Eyes of Durdy Bayramov: Turkmen Village Life, 1960s–80s” at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures (416 N. Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, IN) is free and open to the public. The exhibit will remain open until July 26, 2019.