Capital

Video installation with sound,
16 minutes
2007


Capital is a subjective series of stark encounters and trancelike wanderings through a city under construction. The camera acts as an invisible protagonist drifting through the lives of the city’s inhabitants. A woman’s voice, a stranger to the city, addresses the founder-ruler, conjuring up visions of the future, present and past of the desert capital. The dream city is in conflict with a real, suppressed past and the people existing in that past are being forced into a glossy but oppressive future. The film echoes past tales of travellers to Central Asia, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and even the Thousand and One Nights where the story-teller’s ability to perform a role and tell a tale is a question of survival. The unnamed city is Astana (meaning ‘capital’ in Kazakh), Kazakhstan’s new capital, built over the existing city of Akmola, which was previously Tselinograd—the centre of Khrushchev’s Virgin Lands. The city was founded by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1997.

Capital is dense and fast moving, the tempo shifting between the slow ungainly steps of an old woman walking down the street and the smooth electronic speed of a glass lift.

Capital was commissioned for the exhibition Central Asian Project, at Cornerhouse, Manchester, and at SPACE, London.
In addition Capital was screened at Zoo Art Fair, London, 2008, and the New York Underground Film Festival (March 2007). It toured to Tengri Umai Gallery in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and to the Tashkent Biennale of Contemporary Art, Uzbekistan, in October 2008.
It was also exhibited in Anarcadia, at John Hansard Gallery, 2010.