My friend here in the Stan makes music and film projects that blur the boundaries between art, political satire and just plain weird-ery. He’s kind of what Diogenes of Sinope would probably be doing if he moved out of his vase and into the 21st Century.
If I were to describe Astana in two words it would be ‘pretty cold’. If I were to describe it in four, it would be ‘pretty, but pretty cold’. My friend and I, for whatever reason people do strange things, walked across nearly half the city the other day, including journeying across two sections of the frozen river Ishim.
We’ve started shooting a video project, partly inspired by The Revenant.*
This city is sports crazy. The Astana Pro team, formerly led by zero times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, has a massive velodrome here. Just a stone’s throw away are football stadiums, speed skating tracks and hockey arenas.
It’s no surprise then, that the desolate, snowy tundra of our video project is actually made up of carefully framed cross-country ski tracks, amusement parks and ice fishing hot spots. Our mini epic has been dogged by the usual production woes: changes in light, changes in weather, changes in body temperature.
Yesterday we put work ethic aside, mainly due to misty weather, and went ice skating with ‘the fam’ instead. The indoor arena included a rink where children and the chronically ill-balanced could lean on Zimmer frames. For a semi-Canuck I’m a poor skater but I managed to stay upright the entire time, which I was quietly proud of.
Today we returned to the great outdoors with three layers of clothing to shoot some more of the video. The edited footage so far is very encouraging. Maybe even a cynic like Diogenes would be secretly impressed. Probably not, though.
* (which I’ve never seen, despite it being made on my former turf)