‘Where the Wind Blew’ — with art against nuclear weapons

The Cen­tral Asia Forum team attend­ed the screen­ing this Sep­tem­ber of the doc­u­men­tary  ‘Where the Wind Blew’ by famous British direc­tor Mr Andre Singer, at the First Pres­i­dent Foun­da­tion Office in Lon­don. The event, organ­ised by Kazakhstan’s First Pres­i­dent Foun­da­tion in the UK, hon­oured the Inter­na­tion­al Day against Nuclear Tests, which marks the clos­ing, in 1991, of the nuclear test site in Semi­palatin­sk, Kazakhstan. 

CAF Coor­di­na­tor, Alua Kulzhabaye­va with painter Karip­bek Kuyukov

One of the main char­ac­ters of the film — the Hon­orary Ambas­sador of the ATOM Project, the out­stand­ing Kaza­khstan artist Karip­bek Kuyukov took part at the film screening.

Semi­palatin­sk Nuclear Test Site — Source: The Astana Times, astanatimes.com

The enlight­en­ing film tells about the cat­a­stroph­ic human­i­tar­i­an con­se­quences of the nuclear test and the anti-nuclear move­ment Neva­da-Semi­palatin­sk (the two loca­tions were the main nuclear test­ing sites of the US and the USSR), which unit­ed the peo­ple of the two war­ring coun­tries against nuclear weapons. Using archival footage and inter­views with sur­vivors and vic­tims of nuclear weapons test­ing, ‘Where the Wind Blew’ is not about the cat­a­stro­phe itself, but about the activists, who facil­i­tat­ed the change that saved the humankind.

In addi­tion to gain­ing this invalu­able knowl­edge and under­stand­ing of the mat­ter, I was hon­oured to meet the artist Karip­bek Kuyukov in per­son, and ques­tion him about his touch­ing art­works. While his sto­ry is one of the most excep­tion­al ones, Mr Kuyukov is not the only one whose life was affect­ed by the nuclear tests in the Semi­palatin­sk region. 

Karip­bek Kuyukov: First Explo­sion — oil on can­vas, 63.2 x 44.5 cm

The Sovi­et Union con­duct­ed 456 nuclear tests at Semi­palatin­sk from 1949 until 1989 with lit­tle regard for their effect on the local peo­ple or envi­ron­ment. As the film sug­gests, the chil­dren of the Kaza­kh peo­ple who were exposed to the radioac­tive fall­out in the 1950s, devel­oped muta­tions and were much more like­ly to devel­op can­cer for gen­er­a­tions ahead. The full impact of radi­a­tion expo­sure was hid­den for many years by Sovi­et author­i­ties and has only come to light since the test site closed in 1991.

As the mod­ern soci­ety devel­ops high­er aware­ness about the social and polit­i­cal issues we face inter­na­tion­al­ly, the dan­ger of the stor­age and usage of the nuclear weapons should not be dis­missed. As the film high­lights, the appalling real­i­ty is that there are cur­rent­ly 10,000 nuclear weapons stored and ready for use across the world. 

Karip­bek Kuyukov: Fear — acrylic on can­vas, 30 x 40 cm

If you had to only remem­ber one thing after read­ing this arti­cle, it would hope­ful­ly be the phrase ‘Atom Project’. The Atom Project is com­mit­ted to elim­i­nate the World’s nuclear Arse­nal. You can help pre­vent the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a nuclear dis­as­ter by fol­low­ing the link below and sign­ing the peti­tion here.

While I had an excep­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ty to gain more knowl­edge about the issue, I was also amazed by how human the movie and the pre­sent­ed art­works were. In the end, know­ing and talk­ing should not be the ends, but the means, through which we can get the actions started.

On behalf of the Cen­tral Asia Forum at War­wick, I would like to thank the First Pres­i­dent Foun­da­tion, and Mr Karip­bek Kuyukov, for their invi­ta­tion and for the hard work they do to reach inter­na­tion­al peace.

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