INESSA KALABEKOVA

Perfoming Art

He will be gone. He belongs to the past

It’s easy for me. I feel at ease next to him. He is my protection. I hide and save myself with him. Sometimes, I struggle to breathe and see very little of the outside world. But with him, I am safe. Weakness and hopelessness are distant. Reality loses its grip. I am facing a very scary and incomprehensible period in my life. I just need to get through this, and his strength and confidence will help me. Let him distract you. Let him be strong. How eerie and beautiful it is to stand before the unknown, to be a strange creature with an incomprehensible appearance. To be someone who may have no future. There is nothing but the here and now. The deep abyss. Solidity and stone. He was here. He will be gone. He belongs to the past. He will vanish. He is something that briefly flashed by, almost unnoticed. An error. Not frightening. Beautiful. He is like something unearthly beyond the moon. Maybe light and enchanting. I will think about his story and everything about him. Is this how it all works out? I will need to have surgery. The news is not encouraging. Another month of waiting. My thoughts are empty. But I want to hold the exhibition in a place of peace and tranquility. And I also realized that he needed red gloves, not gold ones.  

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Tubeteika, art festival and, unfortunately, copies in museums.

When I was four years old, my father gave me a miniature tubeteika from Uzbekistan and fabric for a dress, which my mother sewed into a beautiful Uzbek dance costume for me. That’s how my foray into the world of dance began, performing imaginary routines at every opportunity, earning applause and persistent requests for encores. Just four days ago, we returned from a trip to Uzbekistan, where we reunited with my parents who flew in from Kazakhstan, and our days were filled with togetherness. The city left an indelible impression with its immaculate streets and abundance of tourists. I was eagerly anticipating a visit to the Museum of Uzbekistan History, aiming to immerse myself in the cultural relics of the Kushan Empire, an ancient Afghan kingdom. However, my encounter with the museum left me disappointed; instead of genuine artifacts, I found only replicas, and my inquiries puzzled the attendants. Despite three visits, I found it difficult to connect with the cultural heritage I was so passionately seeking. However, amidst this museum disappointment, an unexpected delight awaited us at the arts festival. Across from our residence in Tashkent stood the University of the Arts, and the adjacent park was constantly populated by students sketching en plein air, often depicting elders in traditional attire. The festival brought together numerous children from creative institutions in Uzbekistan, triggering nostalgic memories of my own art school three decades ago. It felt like stepping into a time capsule, where life momentarily paused, evoking a mixture of emotions. Reflecting on the stark contrast between contemporary creativity and ancient wonders described in online research, I found myself pondering the mismatch. Where are the treasures of bygone eras, the ancient coins, sumptuous carpets, and exquisite adornments? Why do modern Uzbek students seem anchored to the recent past? Where is the reflection of history in their creativity? Although I don’t have definitive answers, this experience crystallized my creative path, once again affirming my ability to blend cultures and generations in my artistic pursuits.    

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Performing to the poem by Ibn Sina (avisina)

Performing to the poem by Ibn Sina (avisina) at the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan.  Descended into you from on high .. above she a dove exuding aloofness and out of your reach   She who is out in the open Hidden from the sight of all that know She who is without  veil   She came to you unwilling yet, perhaps, will be loath to leave your body She who exists to morn   She alighted here but never settled among us yet when cam time to move on she made her home  in the shadows of the bleakest of ruins   Methinks she  has no recollection of lives she had at home lands of times of dwellings  past that she never was convinced she would leave   Until as she was shackled to the “d” of  descent and away from the “c” of her center in the vast beyond   She got weighed down  by the “h” of heavy she found herself among the eradicated trails and sign posts   Weeping she remembered her days of the home turf with tears cascading and have yet to stop   She morns the traces that were obliterated by repeated blowing of winds from all four directions   She morns being caught in the thicket of the trap? Her being restrained by the (rib) cage from soaring to the most spacious .. eternal .. Spring  

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State History Museum of Uzbekistan

Entrance to the State History Museum of Uzbekistan greets visitors with a grand staircase. Within, the exhibits are diminutive, shrouded in obscurity. What purpose do they serve? Perhaps rituals? Enveloped in secrets and enigmas, I find myself dancing, casting a white cloth into the air. Upward it floats, symbolizing freedom and the threshold of understanding. Here lies the nexus of strength and comprehension, where one may find their happiness. To exist within the vastness of the inexplicable and unknowable—is this dance? Ritual? Action? Or a form of fulfillment?

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Dragon tamer perfomance

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to address the audience at the inauguration of my dragon-themed exhibition. As I spoke about everything I had discovered and learned during the six months of preparation, I had a realization that this unique experience ignited my passion for learning and sharing knowledge in this expressive form. It occurred to me that there might be a way to seamlessly integrate this newfound interest with dance and movements, creating a captivating fusion of knowledge and art.  

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Gothic Dance Under the Yellow Witness ” poem and performance by Inessa Kalabekova, the National Gallery, Singapore

A big yellow thing hangs from the ceiling high, Not done yet, just waiting in the sky. I’m close by but can’t touch, wrong time, wrong place, Journalists surround, in a crowded space.   I was dancing in the museum, a spontaneous act, As journalists arrived for a preview, a sudden fact. Spotlight on me, attention came my way, Not a famous artist, just dancing in a playful display.   In a beautiful Gothic dress, I spun and swayed, Caught in their lenses, my moment portrayed. Not a performer renowned, nor an artist of fame, Yet, in that moment, the spotlight became my name.   The big yellow thing above, a silent witness high, As I danced in a museum, under an unexpected sky. A blend of tropics and Gothic, a scene so rare, In the journalists’ eyes, a story to share.   Proven art around, but a change in me to come, Cloaked in that dress, where stories begun. In the gallery of life, a canvas yet untold, A tale in the making, as moments unfold.  

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Dance is my tool, and the stage is where magic happens

My art invites you into a world of feelings, stories, and culture—a lively celebration of magic in everyday moments. Influenced by the study of human societies, cultures, and evolution, my work sparks conversations about the connections between our biology, cultures, and stories. Dance is my tool, and the stage is where magic happens. Each dance, like a fairy tale or a personal story, becomes a special moment where feelings, stories, and the magic of dance come together. In this dance of colors and moving bodies, I aim to create a conversation between what you see and what you feel—a picture that shows the magic of moving. Each dance, like a fairy tale, becomes a unique story for the people watching.

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Chinese tale of the Nian monster

The incorporation of a children’s theater performance within my exhibitions serves a dual purpose, transforming them into both entertaining and educational experiences. These events aim to transcend conventional forms of amusement, emphasizing a broader perspective. What sets my exhibitions apart is the active involvement of families. It’s heartening to observe parents not just attending but actively guiding their children to engage deeply with the narratives conveyed through my artwork. This unique blend of artistic expression and educational intent characterizes my approach, reflecting my roles as an artist, a mother, and a socially responsible individual. In this upcoming exhibition, the theme revolves around the ancient Chinese tale of the Nian monster and the essence of the new year, delving into the concept of monsters and their ultimate triumph in a compelling narrative. me in the days ahead.

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A creative experiment where I find myself in a spontaneous dance

This marks my first foray into the realm of filming and dancing, a creative experiment where I find myself in a spontaneous dance with a tree and the sky. To be honest, the whole endeavor feels a bit mystifying, and I can’t quite articulate the purpose behind it just yet. It’s like embarking on a journey without a map—exciting, but a tad perplexing. Looking ahead to my next video, I envision a larger tree taking center stage, its roots serving as a comfortable and encompassing space for relaxation. There’s a notion of creating a serene oasis, a place where one can unwind and connect with nature in a unique way. The why of it all is still elusive, but there’s a sense of curiosity and a desire to explore this unconventional dance with the elements. Despite not fully understanding the motivation behind these dance escapades, there’s an undeniable allure to the idea of capturing these moments on film. Perhaps through this process, a deeper meaning will emerge, or maybe it’s simply about embracing the joy of the unknown. Either way, it’s shaping up to be a fascinating journey of self-expression and discovery.  

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Stories of Nezha and Kuan-Yin, perfomance at the exibition

I found myself in an art exhibition featuring stories of Nezha and Kuan-Yin. Despite the modern setting, the tales of bravery and mythical beauty struck a chord with me. With just an hour and a half and armed with my mother’s old pearls, I decided to improvise. Focusing on Kuan-Yin, a Chinese princess and Buddhist goddess, I explored a legend where she saved the Dragon King’s son, Shancai, from a fisherman. In gratitude, the Dragon King gave her a bright pearl. In the unfolding story, Nezha wanted to learn from Kuan-Yin. She tested him with illusions of monsters chasing her. In a bold move, Nezha threw himself off a cliff to dispel the illusions. Kuan-Yin stepped in, saved him, and Nezha became her devoted follower. From the viewpoint of an artist and dancer, this spontaneous performance blended ancient tales, modern art, and personal expression. It echoed themes of bravery, compassion, and the power of selfless acts through movement and storytelling. 

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