Drying Aral Sea is a catastrophe in history of humanity. The conscious choice of this theme for the exhibition «From Borsa-Kelmas up to Renaissance» was caused by its importance and, unfortunately, topicality. Just for a quarter of century, Aral Sea, deprived of inflow water of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, has been drying quickly. The third desert is arising at the border of Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts. It has been already called as Aralkum.

Many scientific articles were devoted to problems of Aral. Scientists tried to find out the reasons and consequences of Aral catastrophe and to find ways of their solution and rescue of the region.

This global problem touched many artists who drew Aral landscapes. The exhibition exposed a rich collection of works by such famous Karakalpak artists, as F. Madgazin, R. Matevosyan, A. Erimbetova, B. Serekeev, J. Izentaev, K. Toremuratov, B.I. Jaksybaeva, S. Boibosinov, M. Antonov and others.

Photographers also paid attention to this problem. In May, 26 — June, 6, CEH AA Uz, Tashkent House of Photograph represented photos of the first half of the 20th century and modern art photos by V. Vyatkin, V. An, Tursun Ali, Sh. Karimbabaeva, E. Kurtveliev and Matteo Mode reflecting today’s life of the Aral region. Advantage of these photos is not just fixation of reality, but opportunity to feel the life and people of this region. Conceptually photo art associates with truth and reality reproducing them. Unlike verbal descriptions, pictures and drawings, a photograph is perceived more as a fragment of reality than as expression of some opinion about this reality.

The works of photo art at this exhibition belonged to various genres — landscapes, portraits, local life scenes, architecture, etc. Photos give true evidence that the people from photos actually existed, events happened and continue to happen.

Universal plots, which are greater than just a fact of fixing, characterize Victor Vyatkin’s and Shahnoza Karimbabaeva’s works. Each their plot is unique. Their photos fixed real scenes from life of courageous people living in the Aral region. These photographic documents are true works of art and more essential than simple fixing of a moment.

The feeling of responsibility and brilliant skills of Tursun Ali were realized in the whole series of modern photo art products. Perfect use of light and optics, wonderful compositions and unusual color solutions cause deep feeling of the lost sea and pain from dead desert dangerous for life.

Natural style of Victor An’s works show numerous disharmonies in values of city life. The photo artist has multifaceted talent. His works show amazing play of light in the genre of portrait, perfect technique in fixing the life scenes, ability to notice unusual sides of well known and to transfer nature of characters in scenic photos. The works at the exhibition represented just a part of multiyear work, however they show the talent of photo artist brightly.

The significant place in the exposition belonged to works of Italian photo artist Matteo Mode. Five years from his 16-years experience as photographer were devoted to history of Central Asia. M. Mode works for UNDP in Uzbekistan in the field of environment.

Gazing into products by Matteo Mode, it is possible to feel how the artist catches fragility of city life and opens meaning that is much deeper than it can seem at first glance. His ingenuity in camera operating allows to create a complex of situational layers connected with each other in daily life. Portrait photos show self-respect and dignity of characters. Wise and experienced workers know a value of life and love it in all its displays. Their feelings are clear to everybody. The personages are smiling in spite of difficulties, they are smiling simply because of the life is good as it is.

Photo is an art which is free of language and cultural barriers. A photographer directly addresses to each person. Successes of photo art make it a major way of human self-expression. Photo artists are laconic, instead of words they use images which are not created, but reflected. You can not be mistaken when guess thoughts of the artist looking at his photos.

The works at the exhibition speak for themselves, not leaving anybody indifferent and forcing everyone to think how important is to save the nature. Analyzing the exposition, it should be noted that a spectator empathize sufferings of people and understands topicality of Aral ecological catastrophe. To accent this problem, the group of artists created mix-media installations accompanied by video -art and photo-slide-display in frameworks of the exhibition. The action was supported by the Academy of arts of Uzbekistan, Tashkent House of Photograph, Karakalpak Branch of the Academy of Arts, Direction of Art Exhibitions and International Fund for Aral Rescue (GEF).

Regina Tuhtabaeva