Hassan Kurbanbaev (b. 1982, Tashkent)

“Displaced” to collaborate with a series of Netherlands-based organisations dealing with substance use and harm-reduction strategies, Hassan is set to explore concerns such as ‘problematic’ substance use involving young men who have sex with men (MSM) in the day and age of ChemSex and life in Amsterdam's Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs)

 Hassan Kurbanbaev, Portrait © Mikhail Kuzhel

Hassan Kurbanbaev, Portrait © Mikhail Kuzhel

Biography and General Background

Hassan Kurbanbaev is a visual artist, filmmaker and radio host based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Having graduated in Cinematography and Radio Production from the University of the Arts in his native Uzbekistan, Hassan has long been implicated in voicing the struggles of his local community, often delving into social issues concerning youth and marginalised populations through his practice.

Only recently did he ‘stumble’ upon documentary filmmaking and photography as his preferred tools to deal with issues of representation. Since then, his work has been broadcast widely by well-known outlets such as The Guardian, Dazed Magazine, The Calvert Journal, Metal Magazine or Bird in Flight, among others.

His latest photographic project “Tashkent Youth” is currently being displayed as part of the exhibition Post-Soviet Visions: Image and Identity in the New Eastern Europe at Calvert 22 Foundation in London, UK.


 Hassan's Project,  Tashkent Youth  © Hassan Kurbanbaev

Hassan's Project, Tashkent Youth © Hassan Kurbanbaev

Artistic Motivations and Interests

Among Hassan’s concerns, we find his desire to bring a newfound, more accurate depiction on public media of the diverse youth of his native Tashkent, their woes and ambitions.

Motivated by his willingness to show the unparalleled vitality of Tashkenters, Hassan wants to contribute to the establishment of a solid platform to visibilise and empower the city’s young.

For this purpose, he juxtaposes their aspirations to some of the most pressing challenges they face, such as restrictions along the lines of freely expressing one’s gender or sexual identities, negotiating one’s religious convictions in a multiethnic, multi-faith environment, or integrating self-expression into Uzbekistan’s complex recent historical and political legacy.

Using a combination of techniques, Hassan devotes his work to capturing the essence of a people subtly yet steadily revolutionising the social panorama of a city in a perpetual stage of change.

Through his unique focus on Tashkent’s alternative collectives and movements, he strives to share the spotlight with an intermix of norm-bending music producers, independent performers, skaters and visual creators conforming a new generation of changemakers ready to redefine boundaries in contemporary Uzbekistan.

 Mikhail Kuzhel, Hassan's Residency Partner and Assistant

Mikhail Kuzhel, Hassan's Residency Partner and Assistant

AFEW Culture Initiative Collaboration Statement

Hassan jumped on board the AFEW Culture Initiative’s residency project as a springboard to draw links between cultural and social phenomena deemed taboo, in Amsterdam as in Tashkent, such as ChemSex or illicit substance use.

Said practices disproportionately affect communities of men who have sex with men (MSM) and trans* folk in both regions of the world, a situation of particular concern to Hassan, as there is still much to be learned from comparing different organisational approaches to harm-reduction as well as mentalities or outlooks across borders.

He considers the AFEW Culture Initiative’s programme to be a chance for deep introspection, as well as engaging in valuable research with some of Amsterdam’s most renowned institutions dealing with addiction, outreach and rehabilitative therapy, namely Mainline, De Regenboog Groep and Trimbos Institute. The project represents an opportunity to examine health and social inclusion through an entirely new lens.


 Still from Hassan's Visual Project  Tashkent Youth , Uzbekistan

Still from Hassan's Visual Project Tashkent Youth, Uzbekistan