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Toxic Environment

Metal waste installation, Oak Park

We tend to bring up the social environment when we get uncomfortable, when there's so much of someone or something it’s stifling, or, vice versa, when we're lonely and don’t have anyone to talk to or anywhere to grow.


A balanced ecosystem is one where we can live in harmony with other species. That doesn’t mean we will always feel comfortable, but it teaches us to find balance. Thanks to skills and techniques learned from drag artist and sculptor Ms. Tobi, we’ve created a balanced ecosystem of characters. Scrap metal collectors and the flea market served as both inspiration and the material from which our characters were born.


Metal is recyclable. Extracting, processing, and recycling it involve pollution; it is easier to just leave things that no longer work or serve their function to rust. But what if materials’ value depended on their potential lives, on their life stories and cycles of existence, instead? Does Kyrgyzstan mine metal? Metal is not a traditional creative medium in the area, but we could reinterpret vestiges of the past that contain lots of obsolete metal parts.


An ecosystem in which all characters get a second life by right. When metal is melted down and given a new shape, it forgets its old functions. The characters in our metalworking shop, by contrast, are made out of scrap metal that preserves its backstory and shape. How organically will they fit in with reality? Will they look like something that replaces a natural life form (i.e. sculptures), or will they become protagonists that tell us how a place can be environmentally friendly?


Welding Workshop is the title of this work consisting of 20 objects produced during the German artist Miss Tobi's residency in Chingiz Aidarov's Zamanbap Art Gallery in April-March 2023 in Bishkek.


Chingiz Aidarov is a multidisciplinary artist based in Bishkek. He received a formal art education and has collaborated with a wide range of  multiple art institutions from the Chuicov Art School in Bishkek to the Garage Museum residency in Moscow. Performative art plays a central role in his artistic practice. He upholds the tradition of powerful art performances known as "nabegi” (meaning "raids" or "incursions"). Chingiz utilizes his own body as a medium for these performances; some have been documented for exhibition purposes, and others have been in the form of happening. In the welding workshop, he revived his well-known heroes from the oil painting series featured in the "Подьем-переворот" exhibition in 2013th.

In September 2022, Chingiz suffered a stroke and is currently in the process of recovery. Despite his ongoing challenges with reading and speaking, he is dedicated to retraining his brain to regain these functions. It was during this challenging period that the welding workshop emerged.


Sasha (Aleksandra) Filatova is an art practitioner and researcher who resides in both Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and Tyre (Lebanon). She is passionate about exploring the visual language, understanding communities, and promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing among artists and scholars from the Global South and beyond. Utilizing art to comprehend social processes better and engage in discourse decolonization. Her epistemological roots in political philosophy and visual language work as a powerful tool for artistic expression. Organizing and participating in several exhibitions in Kyrgyzstan, she mainly plays with space and context to build experience and discuss emotions through installations and interactive objects.

You can find her art review project on social media under hashtag #критикуюкакмогу


Miss Tobi is an expert in welding. You can find her sculptures in many publicly accessible locations, ranging from the High Line in New York to Berlin's squares, where she currently resides. She runs welding workshops as an empowering instrument for teenagers in Berlin and from time to time, travels abroad to collaborate with artists from around the globe.

Photos by Ermek Jaenisch
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