Recent events in Kazakhstan show that political art has the potential to be a potent form of protest in some of the most authoritarian states in contemporary Central Asia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, artists in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in the region began turning away from the canon of Socialist Realist art, with its sole aim of serving the regime and depicting its visions of the future. New forms of contemporary art emerged, drawing sharp contrasts with official art in form, content, and culture, as more artists insisted on freedom from state patronage and control. In the political upheaval following the resignation of long-ruling President Nursultan Nazarbayev, artists have inspired protests with pointed critiques.

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