Almetyevsk Backgammon

Әлмәт нардлары

A street metaphoric game about safe social distance
An interactive artwork that helps to physically understand what the social distance of 1,5 meters is through playing backgammon
Xeato (Saint Petersburg)
121 Lenin Street (near the Courthouse)

Context

The notion of «distance» has radically changed during the pandemic. The physical distance has increased, while the mental one has shortened. The interactive piece of art called «Almetyevsk Backgammon» is an attempt to comprehend these transformations through the game.

Bozorgmehr – an Iranian sage, who served as minister of the Sasanian king Kavad I, and the latter son and successor Khosrow I.
Nēw-Ardaxšīr stands for «brave Ardashir» in Middle Persian.
Improvisation is a very important part of art, as well as our entire life: you never know what will happen next. The way people move in the town is also a kind of improvisation. When we go home, we can choose another road, or pop by for a visit to our friends. We may spontaneously step in for a cup of cappuccino in the nearest cafe, or even abruptly rush on the train to the suburbs to visit granny.

In 2020, we have had to change our habits. Now is not that simple to shake hands or hug your friend, as you've got to remember about everyone's safety.

We can imagine how people move in the town as graphic markings on the ground. Following them from one point to another, people are trying to keep the distance of 1,5 meters. Backgammon board can be a great example of such a graphical movement system.
The artist Xeato (read as «Khito») painted backgammon on the asphalt in one of the residential neighbourhoods of Almetyevsk. It's not just a static picture: you can play backgammon with your friends on this «board», keeping the distance of 1,5 meters. The rules of the game are different from the standard ones. This is how «Almetyevsk backgammon» helps to spend time with loved ones in safe terms.

Backgammon was widespread in ancient times under different names, such as «Tabula» or «Twelve Points» in ancient Rome.

It is believed that backgammon is quite easy to play. However, there is a legend which demonstrates the complexity of the game. Once the Indians sent the rules of the game in chess to the Persians to test their ingenuity. The Persian sage Bozorgmehr found it easy, and in response he sent the Indians his riddle, which they could not solve for 12 years. Backgammon, or New-Ardashir was the name of this game, called after Ardashir I, the founder of the Sasanian Empire. It is believed that backgammon appeared in Persia (present-day Iran).
Tabula is a Greco-Roman board game found in the ruins of the Gloucester Castle.
«Buzurjmihr Explains the Game of Backgammon (Nard) to the Raja of Hind», Folio from the First Small Shahnama (Book of Kings), ca. 1300–30. Iraq or Iran, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Backgammon is not only an ancient game connected with numbers and chances, but also one of the cultural codes of Tatarstan. Seniors get together in large groups at parks and play backgammon, and in many cafes of the republic you can sip leisurely at your tea and play a game or two.
Improvisation is a very important part of art, as well as our entire life: you never know what will happen next. The way people move in the town is also a kind of improvisation. When we go home, we can choose another road, or pop by for a visit to our friends. We may spontaneously step in for a cup of cappuccino in the nearest cafe, or even abruptly rush on the train to the suburbs to visit granny.

In 2020, we have had to change our habits. Now is not that simple to shake hands or hug your friend, as you've got to remember about everyone's safety.

We can imagine how people move in the town as graphic markings on the ground. Following them from one point to another, people are trying to keep the distance of 1,5 meters. Backgammon board can be a great example of such a graphical movement system.

The artist Xeato (read as «Khito») painted backgammon on the asphalt in one of the residential neighbourhoods of Almetyevsk. It's not just a static picture: you can play backgammon with your friends on this «board», keeping the distance of 1,5 meters. The rules of the game are different from the standard ones.This is how «Almetyevsk backgammon» helps to spend time with loved ones in safe terms.

Backgammon was widespread in ancient times under different names, such as «Tabula» or «Twelve Points» in ancient Rome.

It is believed that backgammon is quite easy to play. However, there is a legend which demonstrates the complexity of the game. Once the Indians sent the rules of the game in chess to the Persians to test their ingenuity. The Persian sage Bozorgmehr found it easy, and in response he sent the Indians his riddle, which they could not solve for 12 years. Backgammon, or New-Ardashir was the name of this game, called after Ardashir I, the founder of the Sasanian Empire. It is believed that backgammon appeared in Persia (present-day Iran).

Backgammon is not only an ancient game connected with numbers and chances, but also one of the cultural codes of Tatarstan. Seniors get together in large groups at parks and play backgammon, and in many cafes of the republic you can sip leisurely at your tea and play a game or two.
Tabula is a Greco-Roman board game found in the ruins of the Gloucester Castle.
«Buzurjmihr Explains the Game of Backgammon (Nard) to the Raja of Hind», Folio from the First Small Shahnama (Book of Kings), ca. 1300–30. Iraq or Iran, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Process

Art form: painting on the ground
Style: naive art
Material: outdoor paint

Xeato painted a backgammon board in one of the residential neighbourhoods of Almetyevsk. «Backgammon» has become the first large-scale artwork for the artist. The most complex parts of the work were marking and painting on the ground, because Xeato usually works on vertical surfaces. He has been painting graffiti on the streets for 13 years. At the end of each working day he walked onto the roof to assess the drawing from above.
A sketch of «Almetyevsk Backgammon» by Xeato.
Xeato painted a backgammon board in one of the residential neighbourhoods of Almetyevsk. «Backgammon» has become the first large-scale artwork for the artist. The most complex parts of the work were marking and painting on the ground, because Xeato usually works on vertical surfaces. He has been painting graffiti on the streets for 13 years. At the end of each working day he walked onto the roof to assess the drawing from above.
A sketch of «Almetyevsk Backgammon» by Xeato.
It is the first made-on-the-ground painting for Almetyevsk. Vertical paintings are considered by locals as something familiar, but the horizontal ones as something really unusual and deserving extra attention. People can interact with the artwork: they can play backgammon with friends keeping a social distance of 1,5 meters, as provided by the new special rules of backgammon and our life in 2020. «Almetyevsk Backgammon» is the answer for the question «How to spend time together and while staying safe?».
The rules of the game «Almetyevsk Backgammon». The game can be played by 3 up to 13 people. One of them is supposed to lead the game, others should be divided into two teams called «Day» and «Night». Players should decide who will make a move, and how many moves should be made using randomizer. The winner is the team where all players were the first to cross to the opposite side. The most important rule is the minimum stride length of 1.5 meters. Thus, this interactive art object can be considered not only as a game, but also as a reminder of what the distance must people keep during the COVID-19 pandemic for feeling safe.

Performance

Performance by Nurbek Batulla and dancers to the music of Eric Markovsky.
Nurbek Batulla always had a dream to perform with a dance in a residential neighbourhood. This idea has its own magic: dance is born where it is not expected to be seen. Passers-by are coming back home; some people are walking their dogs, or going to the nearest shops, and suddenly all of them are being involved in the performance which they have probably never seen before.

On the opening day, the artwork turned into a stage for Nurbek Batulla and the local dance crew «Freestyle». The performance was called «Brave Ardashir» in honour of the Middle Persian name for backgammon. Nurbek Batulla and the Freestyle dance crew learned about Persian painting and miniatures to find inspiration. Based on these images, the dancers formed new visual images, which were later embodied in dance movements.

For dancers it was an absolute improvisation and a debut in a new genre. They played the role of checkers, and the audience controlled them: spectators threw virtual dice, deсiding how many people would dance and what movements they would perform on the «board». Randomizer showed two numerals: the first one meant the number of dancers, while the second one stood for the number of the picture.
Woman Holding a Decanter and a Cup. Iran, second half of the 19th century, Hermitage, Saint Petersburg.
Birth of the Prophet Muhammad, «Jami al-Tawarikh» by Rashid al-Din Tabib, 1314, Edinburgh University Library.
Nurbek Batulla always had a dream to perform with a dance in a residential neighbourhood. This idea has its own magic: dance is born where it is not expected to be seen. Passers-by are coming back home; some people are walking their dogs, or going to the nearest shops, and suddenly all of them are being involved in the performance which they have probably never seen before.

On the opening day, the artwork turned into a stage for Nurbek Batulla and the local dance crew «Freestyle». The performance was called «Brave Ardashir» in honour of the Middle Persian name for backgammon. Nurbek Batulla and the Freestyle dance crew learned about Persian painting and miniatures to find inspiration. Based on these images, the dancers formed new visual images, which were later embodied in dance movements.

For dancers it was an absolute improvisation and a debut in a new genre. They played the role of checkers, and the audience controlled them: spectators threw virtual dice, deсiding how many people would dance and what movements they would perform on the «board». Randomizer showed two numerals: the first one meant the number of dancers, while the second one stood for the number of the picture.
Woman Holding a Decanter and a Cup. Iran, second half of the 19th century, Hermitage, Saint Petersburg.
Birth of the Prophet Muhammad, «Jami al-Tawarikh» by Rashid al-Din Tabib, 1314, Edinburgh University Library.
Percussionist Erik Markovsky complemented the performance with the playing on the Persian folk instruments. The dancers tuned in to Eric's melody, as well as Eric tuned in to their moves, and these sounds created a special atmosphere of the historical era, when people sat at the table and played backgammon.
Spectators watched the performance of the artists not only near the stage or online, but also from balconies of the nearest buildings and through the windows, which during the pandemic have become portals to the real world.

Author

Xeato
Nurbek Batulla
Xeato started painting graffiti in 2007 and then mastered new techniques: abstract painting on canvas, sculpture and engraving. His work relates more to naive style: Xeato simplifies forms to geometric abstractions, emphasizes the color palette and the creation of a single composition of the work. Xeato took part in a street art exhibition in Lisy Nos. His artworks were also exhibited in the Futuro Gallery, Nizhny Novgorod and on the «Banneret» exhibition at Sevkabel Port, Saint Petersburg (2019).
Xeato and Dusto are working on «Almetyevsk Backgammon».
Xeato started painting graffiti in 2007 and then mastered new techniques: abstract painting on canvas, sculpture and engraving. His work relates more to naive style: Xeato simplifies forms to geometric abstractions, emphasizes the color palette and the creation of a single composition of the work. Xeato took part in a street art exhibition in Lisy Nos. His artworks were also exhibited in the Futuro Gallery, Nizhny Novgorod and on the «Banneret» exhibition at Sevkabel Port, Saint Petersburg (2019).
Xeato and Dusto are working on «Almetyevsk Backgammon».
Nurbek Batulla was born in Kazan in the family of the national writer of Tatarstan Rabit Batulla. Nurbek graduated with honors from the Kazan Choreographic School in 2007 and then entered the Saint Petersburg State Conservatory as a ballet master and choreographer. Eventually, Nurbek went beyond ballet and went to study at the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts on Mokhovaya street as a drama and film actor. This decision then determined his career. Nurbek Batulla took part in Russian-German theater, where he studied the principles of improvisation in choreography and dramatic action.
Choreographer Nurbek Batulla during the performance «Brave Ardashir».
Nurbek Batulla was born in Kazan in the family of the national writer of Tatarstan Rabit Batulla. Nurbek graduated with honors from the Kazan Choreographic School in 2007 and then entered the Saint Petersburg State Conservatory as a ballet master and choreographer. Eventually, Nurbek went beyond ballet and went to study at the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts on Mokhovaya street as a drama and film actor. This decision then determined his career. Nurbek Batulla took part in Russian-German theater, where he studied the principles of improvisation in choreography and dramatic action.
Choreographer Nurbek Batulla during the performance «Brave Ardashir».

Address

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Banking details

ООО «ТЕОРИЯ И ПРАКТИКА УЛИЧНОГО ИСКУССТВА»
ИНН: 7810474682
КПП: 784201001
ОГРН: 1167847291545
ОКПО: 03512611
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