Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Desert of Forbidden Art

PBS Independent Lens is back this week with another interesting documentary this week, The Desert of Forbidden Art,
How does art survive in a time of oppression? During the Soviet rule artists who stay true to their vision are executed, sent to mental hospitals or Gulags.

Their plight inspires young Igor Savitsky. He pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,000 forbidden fellow artist's works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Though a penniless artist himself, he cajoles the cash to pay for the art from the same authorities who are banning it. Savitsky amasses an eclectic mix of Russian Avant-Garde art. But his greatest discovery is an unknown school of artists who settle in Uzbekistan after the Russian revolution of 1917, encountering a unique Islamic culture, as exotic to them as Tahiti was for Gauguin. They develop a startlingly original style, fusing European modernism with centuries-old Eastern traditions.  
Stephen Kinzer (Crescent and Star), who discovered the obscure Uzbek museum while reporting for the New York Times, acts as a guide for the film. The LAist is enthusiastic about the documentary with this about Kinzer,
Kinzer is especially energetic, laying out a history of Soviet settlements, archaeological digs, over-irrigation, and how all came together to foster a Russian avant-garde movement
Check out the Independent Lens website for more info and showtimes.

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