Monday, November 1, 2010

Desert of Forbidden Art

About three weeks ago Alla and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see a movie called Desert of Forbidden Art. It’s about an amazing collection assembled during the Soviet era by a fearless curator in the far reaches of Uzbekistan. This fellow built the museum with party funds, though certainly without much party scrutiny. The art he collected includes styles not approved or accepted by the party, and sometimes imagery not in keeping with Soviet ideals.

Yes, of course we enjoyed the story of the museum’s creation. We were inspired by the courage and independence of the curator and the many artists whose work he collected. Even more, however, we enjoyed the art itself. The movie took us through a museum we would love to see, but which I’m not sure we’ll be able to visit.

I visited the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory web site and looked up Uzbekistan. They offered many warnings about travel in that country, but of course they also caution American citizens about travel in Mexico, and we go there anyway. In the case of Mexico, however, I feel that we’re going to a specific area we know reasonably well, and we do not plan to go far beyond areas we feel to be reasonably secure. By contrast, getting to the museum we saw in the movie can easily involve about a day of travel through Uzbekistan. The probably-safer alternative is a flight on a TU-154 jet from Tashkent straight to Nukus, but I still want to know more before I begin planning any trips.

I’ll continue to gather information. I might continue to share information too, since I think I’d feel safer with a few companions. Is anybody out there up for joining us?

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