Skip to main content

Film Screening and Discussion: The Desert of Forbidden Art

  • When
  • November 5, 2015
    1:00–9:00 p.m. (EST)
  • Where
  • The Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Pl, London W2 1QJ, United Kingdom
  • Programs
  • Eurasia Program

The government of Uzbekistan recently fired the director of the Nukus Art Museum, a jewel in the remote deserts of western Uzbekistan. The museum is known worldwide for its unique collection of Soviet avant-garde art.

The collection was gathered in the 1960s by the visionary artist Igor Savitsky, who rescued the works of banned artists, many of whom had died in prison or in penury. Savitsky then entrusted the collection to Marinika Babanazarova, who has protected it for 30 years. The paintings are now worth perhaps $2 billion. With Babanazarova gone, the art world fears the collection could be broken up and sold illicitly at any time.

A screening and discussion of the film The Desert of Forbidden Art explores how art survives in times of oppression.


  • Robert Chandler is a poet and literary translator.
  • Boris Chukhovich is a historian and curator of Central Asian modern and contemporary art.
  • Svetlana Gorshenina is a historian of Central Asian art.
  • Stephen Kinzer is a reporter, author, and academic.
  • David Lewis is a lecturer on politics at Exeter University.
  • Monica Whitlock (moderator) is a journalist, author, and former BBC Central Asia correspondent.

Subscribe to updates about upcoming Open Society events

By entering your email address and clicking “Submit,” you agree to receive updates from the Open Society Foundations about our work. To learn more about how we use and protect your personal data, please view our privacy policy.