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.