Assel Akhmidzhanova

Course: Arts Management

From: Astana, Kazakhstan

Curator, Art-manager of contemporary art exhibitions in Kazakhstan

You are now managing contemporary art exhibitions in Kazakhstan, could you tell us what was your career path prior and after the IED course? What has been the educational contribution of IED compared to your natural creative skill?
I did my bachelor's in Kazakhstan in Visual Arts. Then I quickly realized that I was not an “artist” by soul and moved to fashion retail where I worked for 3 years. We opened with a franchise called Debenhams, a British department store. But during my second year of working in retail I realized that it was not my sphere either – I wanted to deal with art as an organizer.
IED taught me to evaluate ideas in projects, present it and to speak in public (IED program foresaw regular public presentations of projects) – it helped me a lot. Also I started to be more interested in modern art from my country and the whole world.

What is your occupation now? Any interesting projects that you can share with us?
IED helped me to make the shift from fashion retail onto contemporary art.
I did not search for a job immediately since I got a baby very soon after graduation, and during maternity leave I only managed a page in a social network dedicated to contemporary art but after that I found a job very easily thanks to my education. First I worked as an art-manager in the National museum for about 1,5 years. Among the projects made there I was happy to co-curate an exhibition “Astral Nomad” by one of the leading contemporary artists in Kazakhstan - Sergey. After that I moved to the TSE Art Destination gallery where I curated and managed exhibitions and educational public programs. The main direction of the gallery is development of contemporary art in the region where we work with established and young artists, like Central Asia or internationally.
My most significant project date: Firstly, curating the ”Green, Yellow, Red and Green again” exhibition by Almagul Menlibaeva. She is a well known artist originally from Kazakhstan, living in Germany. She works mostly in multi-channel video, photography and mixed media installation and her artwork has been featured internationally in the Venice Biennale, Sydney Biennale and more. Secondly, launching and curating the Astana Art Show festival is an annual event dedicated to contemporary art located in Astana with the participation of international artists.

You obviously had some expectations when choosing IED for your studies. What were your expectations and what was then reality?
I really loved that our teachers were not only theoretical but practical professionals with ongoing experience. A memorable part of the program was the visits to the Uffizi gallery in Florence where we had the opportunity to speak to its General Manager. Our teachers organised Pitti Uomo – it was a great opportunity indeed to go deep into the sphere. We also had a short internship with the Peggy Guggenheim gallery in Venice where we also visited all departments and had short lectures from its staff. IED also helped me to meet a lot of interesting creative people, most of whom I am still in contact with. Since then I’ve realised how I am grateful to our group curator – professor Daria Filardo. I think that without her help and advice we wouldn’t have been able to implement our final collective project as it is not easy to mediate 11 students from different countries with a broad background. She is a wonderful person, strong professor and effective mediator.

Italy is a renowned country with a mix of a great value of traditions and with a unique creative atmosphere, with headquarters of worldwide known brands. Do you think this played a part in determining your decision to choose a school in Italy? Why did you choose IED Rome and Florence for your education?
Firstly, the description of the program on the website fully satisfied my requirement for this specialty. I loved the description of my course on the IED website. Secondly the fact that the course lasted for 1 year suited me perfectly: I was already married and could not leave for a longer period. Then of course it was Italy, even if I realized that for modern art it was not the best location. But I still chose this country. And of course big brands played a big role: Uffizi, Strozzi, Guggenheim, Pitti and others – IED provided collaboration and projects with them.

Now when you are an IED alumnus, what would be your advice to those going to IED for studying?
I would advise to get prepared before going to study in Italy, to study Italian contemporary art beforehand. Also I strongly advise you to study the Italian language. You can enroll into language courses in parallel with studying in IED – that’s what I did when I studied in Rome. It gives a better understanding of the country itself as well as more communication possibilities. And of course you should regularly visit exhibitions and art events because it is the way for better understanding of art globally and widen your horizons in the professional field.

Where can our readers find you in social media?
Facebook: Assel Akhmetzhanova

Other news