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Illingworth, Shona (2007) Tomb. SPACE, London; Cornerhouse, Manchester; AsiaArt, Kazakhstan Film, 7 minutes DVD. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:45481)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.


Tomb (7 mins) was filmed in the Karlag, Northeast Kazakhstan’s former Soviet Gulag, (a major forced labour camp of over 600 sq km).

Tomb explores the complex consequences of the disappearance of material evidence of the Karlag and the haunting atmospheres of trauma memory, which remain, through fragmented images of the northeast Kazakh Steppe where it was located. The scarcity of information or mapping of this landscape, and the consequent difficulty in comprehending the human scale of Gulag is evoked in the film through dramatic shifts in scale , where ariel views of the immense open Steppe close in on the abandoned ruined trenches, dug into the earth, were thousands of prisoners of a former hard labour prison camp where once contained. At the centre of the film, the NKVD Villa and Central Administration building of the Karlag GULAG in Dolinka is being sealed. Its doors and windows bricked up, its subterranean spaces and ruined stately rooms hidden in darkness. Sounds of an orchestra playing Arensky’s ballet “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai’ are heard - which it is told once played in the state rooms of the former NKDV Villa, situated above the prison cells and interrogation rooms hidden in the basement below. The physical entombment of this building, all evident of administrative records and files removed, gives way to the sound of stray descendants of former guard dogs barking as dusk falls in the grounds of the now empty building.

Item Type: Visual media
Additional information: Karlag was commissioned by SPACE, Cornerhouse, and Asia Art, and funded by Arts Council England and the British Council, for the Central Asian Project, an exhibition that toured to: SPACE, London, 17th February 2007 - 14th April 2007; Cornerhouse, Manchester, 9 Feb 2007 – 1 Apr 2007
Subjects: N Visual Arts > N Visual arts (General). For photography, see TR
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Funders: British Council (
Arts Council England (
Depositing User: Shona Illingworth
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 10:32 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Illingworth, Shona:
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