A non-existent word, born from a combination of Kazakh and English, WHOMYN is presented to the creators of the exhibition as a metaphor for the formation of identity. Language is traditionally considered one of the fundamental factors of national self-identification. This habitual approach runs into its own limitations when one looks at the reality of everyday life, where the ways of communication and absorption of information can hardly be fixed in only one language. Rather, it is always a symbiosis of several languages, in one we communicate with relatives, in another - with friends, in the third - we conduct business negotiations. Ultimately, this constant process of alignment shapes our way of thinking. WHOMYN is an open system. The works presented at the exhibition in one form or another represent a free process. They are open to the interaction of the viewer, they are open to participation.
Entering the space of the WHOMYN exhibition, the viewer passes through a labyrinth that provides a space for choice. Depending on where exactly you take yourself will depend on what exactly you see at the end. Nuasi's (Asia Nuali) work Whitening is a metaphor for the personal experience of the artist, who has difficulty accepting her “non-white” identity and reflects that, in the context of her African roots, being Kazakh for her means being more privileged, more “white”. Walking along the Nuasi path, you can come across a video of Leonid Khan's Dance on the Carpet. Through the image of a young Kazakh woman from the generation of the 1990s, the author reflects on the dance of identity on the traditional attribute of Soviet interiors - a carpet from the wall.
Madina Sagat presents a personal look at herself through the portraits of her loved ones. Her work Metaplasia is an artistic reflection through the prism of sensory experience. Another artist Intizor Otaniyozova invites you to take a closer look at yourself. Gazing at the other creates an intimate connection, exposes you to the other, and allows you to feel the other. Another work that tells about oneself through the eyes of others is Janelle Shahan's untitled polyptych. The lack of a title for the work is very eloquent, because the artist shows us self-portraits; she exposes herself to the viewer.
Moving away from personal views, we begin to fantasize about the global context and Kazakh identity in the collages of Perizat Suleiman. Exotic landscapes, accentuated by bright colors, combined with black and white archival photographs, create space for the search for the self-identity of a separate nation in the colourful context of the whole world. Video art “Floating” of Ykylas Shaikhiev shows a person in a stream of confusion from the inability to form a complete model of himself in the modern world of pluralism of possibilities and deconstruction.
The black box of Dana Iskakova invites the viewer to move from reflection to action. The viewer becomes an accomplice in the search for what Dana's closed cubes are filled with. Mystery and riddle is the artist's way of self-expression, which is emphasized by the opportunity to openly express herself on a black field, but only with black chalk, which will not allow another to read what she has written. The black colour absorbs everything, the author proclaims, but it also keeps everything in itself. Karina Ivanova also expects the viewer to actively participate in her project. “Jazziam” interactive installation is a writing practice that goes beyond the exhibition. Karina conducts sessions of recognizing herself and her feelings through writing texts. Visitors to the exhibition are given the opportunity to create their own texts that will form the final installation.
The history of art of independent Kazakhstan knows several stages in the search for its own identity. The WHOMYN exhibition is the experience of a generation that has been shaped in the recent history of the country. The process of self-identification does not stop until new participants are born.