The future sprouts from the past, piercing us in the present

September 1-30, 2017

Curator of the festival - @artbatfestbot (telegram-bot)

The end of the last century was marked by ubiquitous domestication of digital devices. Pictures and music, stacked in 8bit packets of information, captured the world and formed a peculiar aesthetics. And now, our heart brims with warmth of nostalgia any time we meet something that has a similar encryption code, even it only imitates the outlines.


The 8bit world captured us playfully through pokemons, Tetris and Mario. Some iconic institutions, such as MoMA, have included these games in their permanent collections. The virtual world where the princess is saved from captivity in the castle or tanks are fighting on the battlefield has ceased to be just a game for us. It has become an integral part of our everyday life.


In parallel with these processes, which were superficial back then and are fundamental now, the game, as interpreted by the Norvegian (and clever) philosopher Johan Huizinga, is disappearing from our society. The game for him is that irrational, subtle boundary between competition, myth, science, faith, law, military affairs and other social vertical phenomena that one had to imagine first in order to construct later. The Homo Ludens ceases to be, and the rational, with its rhetoric of perception of the world and actions, starts to dominate, putting aside the paradigm of "frivolity," an almost comic attitude to reality. Huizinga believed that the element of the game still remains in poetry, and we believe that contemporary art is a myth-making process in the broad sense – an attempt to involve the world in playing a game and force it to step back from the rational and look irrationally, from outside, at what is happening.

ARTBAT FEST 8 offers artists and viewers to interpret the body of the city as a playing space and the disappearance thereof. Participants of the festival play with the city and with each other. Breaking away from the rational perception of the world, they are trying to create a "playground" for the viewer, where both of them could reflect on the current functioning of the game and on what games today form that which was once inseparable from the formation of almost all social processes.


At the end of the 20th century, we played computer games built on 8bit graphics, and 8bit music came from the speakers. The 8bit world responds with a romanticized nostalgia for the beginning of the era of computers and robots. Can we take these technological changes as the basis for a new big game? Is there a competitive component in Counter Strike and what is the uniqueness of the biological machine as compared the electronic computer? It seems that the difference lies in generating ideas, but aren't these processes mechanized as well?


The new ARTBAT FEST festival wants to talk with you about the fact that life is a game programmed by us for us and with the participation of ourselves. We should not take it too seriously, although it certainly should be taken seriously.

*Bot - (English bot, abbreviated from the Czech robot) – a special program that runs automatically and/or on schedule and performs certain actions through interfaces.



This year the festival invited the townspeople to become involved in interactive public project "AMAPOLIA". This game is based on the example of the well-known strategy "Monopoly". "AMAPOLIA" is a type of Almaty as a creative hub...



'City Code' is a visual study of the city’s specific geography within a broad range of relationships. It poses questions regarding the functioning of the social space during paradigm shifts.


Nine sculptural objects are related to diagrams as facts, ornaments as a culture or symbols as basis.


Following a week-long workshop phase in Zurich, the QWAS artists boarded the train towards Berlin in Zurich. After nine days with various stopovers (in Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow and Turkestan) and many, many adventures, they finally arrived in Almaty. Whilst crossing various time zones, borders and languages barriers, cultures and habits, they set up artistic interventions, spoke to passengers from diverse backgrounds, recorded soundscapes, staged performances and documented their experience.



The project that united the artworks from Russia and Kazakhstan addresses the issues of historical and collective memory, the bizarre ways of its formation and transformation. Trying to find and say out loud previously untold stories about the civil war in Kazakhstan the artists examine different types of human experience of history and war, whilst each of these eventually forms a specific way of artistic expression.



For the second year in a row, ARTBAT FEST holds a summer School for young artists. In 2017, the School program consisted of a course of lectures on philosophy, history of contemporary art, as well as 3-week master classes of leading foreign artists and curators. The result of the educational process was the exhibition 'Act of Creation'.


The theme of the exhibition offers to focus on the artistic idea, but placed outside the artistic context. Idea that would help identify, and at best solve, a list of specific social, political, educational, ethical and aesthetic problems of Kazakhstan and Almaty.


Traditionally, one of the festival programs was devoted to performances. This year, the British performer Roger Hill held a master class for young Kazakh artists and theater actors.


Director of the festival – Olga Veselova
The Chairman of the NGO "Eurasian Cultural Alliance" – Igor Sludskiy
Art Director – Vladislav Sludskiy
Festival coordinator – Anna Assonova
Design – Anastasiya Silkina
Production – Kseniya Zakharova, Anna Assonova
Technical support – Jamilya Iskakova, Svetlana Vanina, Svetlana Evgenyeva
Photos – Theo Frost, Anna Assonova
Video – Artem Popov

Partners of ARTBAT FEST 8:


Informational partners:

© 2018 by International festival of contemporary art ARTBAT FEST