Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society Organization Logo Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society

Film Screening

Gulmira’s Fairy Tales

03.01.2024 04:30 PM

Event Summary

Still from Gulmira's Fairy Tales, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Dianne Beal.

Still from Gulmira's Fairy Tales, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Dianne Beal.

"In 2020, I was invited to participate in the research laboratory Space 1520, organized by the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, which focused on Soviet and post-Soviet colonialism. I was at this point already concerned with the issue of exploitation of women working in the textile and fashion industries. During my research with Space 1520, I discovered Kyrgyzstan as a country with one of the largest textile industries, sewing garments for export mainly to Russia. So, I travelled there and finally saw the conditions of seamstresses with my own eyes. This profoundly changed my view of reality.

The video shows the performance of actress Gulmira Tursunbaeva, who plays the role of a TV host telling feminist fairy tales as the video cuts to scenes of dance and street performance. The stories in this film are based on my interviews with the Bishkek seamstresses, material from the human rights organizations Open Line and information about female workers in the USSR from the Moscow archives. The neoliberal structure of the market places responsibility of the working day on the individual. There is no control to limit the working hours as it was during the Soviet era, where seamstresses were coming in at 8 am and leaving at 5 pm. The garment workers become like machines, filled with concern for producing as much as possible, since it is the amount of production that determines the amount of money they will be paid."

Gulmira's Fairy Tales
, 2022. HD 16x9; full color; with sound stereo; 37:38 length.


Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskay, known as Gluklya, resides and works in Amsterdam. She emerged as a significant figure in contemporary art after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Her diverse body of work includes installations, textile sculptures, texts, videos, watercolors, performances, workshops, political demonstrations, visual poetry and conceptual clothing.

This event was organized by the Costumes and Collapse research project at the Neubauer Collegium. Co-sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature, the Committee on Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS), the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.