ArtsLink International Fellowships​: Home Country Projects

Artists Alevtyna Kakhidze, Ukraine, Bermet Borubaeva, Kyrgyzstan, and Katja Sulc, Slovenia, continue their ArtsLink International Fellowships with projects in their home countries. From investigating the effects of radioactivity on the native plants in Chernobyl to raising awareness of the clean water systems in Bishkek to honoring the Native American peoples through poetry and song, the projects are a testament of the depth, diversity and excellence of artistic practices that emerge from long-term transnational collaborations. These endeavors are a culmination of the two years of virtual and in-person residencies with partner organizations throughout the USA.

2022 Participants


Urban environmentalist and labor rights activist Bermet Borubaeva uses trash as a medium in her work. Bermet is interested in the intersection of arts, climate science, and environmental inequality. Her practice is dedicated to the global problem of food waste and growing ecological disruptions caused by excessive urbanization. Bermet is a co-founder of Bishkek School of Contemporary Art.

Bermet draws our attention to industrial overproduction of processed food and the carelessness with which humans waste almost half of these products rather than bake their own bread or cook dinners. Global food mass production contributes to the destruction of the planet’s ecological systems, causing massive deforestation, the pollution of oceans and scarcity of freshwater. Her work on environmental inequality helps us understand that the developed world’s privileged indulgence in haute cuisine leads to the production of food waste on an enormous scale. At the same time, the food insecurity for hundreds of millions in developing countries is rapidly increasing due to the inequities brought into stark focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. The artist’s most recent intervention highlighted this issue when she lived exclusively on leftover food while working as a cook in a café.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Bermet and her US host organization Hyde Park Art Center, in collaboration with Chicago-based Urban Growers Collective, present a research-focused inter-city, international platform and public program which began with activities in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in spring 2020. The overarching project titled Trash culminates in a series of workshops and open conversations among artists and practitioners, and a public program with both in-person and virtual components to open the project to as wide an audience as possible.



Embracing ideas of consumption, gender, love, power, protest culture, experience of war, plants and dogs, Alevtina Kakhidze is co-founder of a residency program for international artists in the village of Muzychi, The Muzychi Expanded History Project.

To raise awareness of climate change and more sustainable living in the era of global shifts in society, especially in post-pandemic times, she has initiated the laboratory Adult Garden to observe coexistence and the dynamics of plants freed from the gardener’s intervention.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Alevtina and her US collaborators embarked on a garden-focused project that centers on critical observation of organized experimental gardens and natural conservation areas. The artists and scientists from University of Kansas studied the competition and collaboration observable among plants and between plants and living organisms such as insects and birds.  Studies focused on the interaction between native and non-native (including invasive) plants, and explored the cases when a plant native to the US became invasive in Ukraine and vice versa. Alevtina also studied traditional Native American practices of gardening and medicinal plant use.

In Alevtina’s third year of ArtsLink International Fellowship in 2022, she is planning a collaboration with the Kansas University School of Visual Art on the project ‘Fate of Plants’. She will continue to research stable systems – prairies in Kansas, a steppe in Ukraine and the restored plant systems on the edge of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – to generate new work, a series of texts for art and scientific publications and an online discussion. The project has been postponed until the end of war in Ukraine.

The artist profile in the Burlington Contemporary magazine, July 27, 2022
“With the Russian invasion in February 2022, Kakhidze’s art became more radical. Her critique of the war continues to be enacted through a personal lens, however her anti-colonialist narratives are more explicit and her reference points are wider, articulating the violence and imminent danger that characterize life for so many in Ukraine.” (Svitlana Biedarieva, Burlington Contemporary, July 27, 2022)



Slovenian singer, songwriter and musician Katja Šulc works with poetry and music.  Her expression is focused on setting poetry to music and storytelling through songs. Her work embraces contemporary folk, exploring modern and traditional poetry and endangered languages and cultures. Katja’s recent album KAMLISAJLAN (2016) is based on Rromani poetry from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, while her new album CARICIAS (2021) pays tribute to Mexican poetry, including traditional and indigenous poems.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Katja researches Native American culture, history, values and beliefs. She is dedicating her residency in the US to foster a deep dialogue with Native American artists and communities. Katja draws a parallel between Native American culture and Pre-Christian culture in Slovenia, the Old believers, the secret pagan society that existed in Slovenian remote places until late 1960’s. The parallel lies in a strong connection to nature and in deep respect for natural forces.

Katja Šulc and her US host organization Institute of American Indian Arts pay homage to Native American heritage. Fusing traditional and contemporary art, the project intertwines with Native American artists’ culture, focusing on human values and ecology issues. Katja’s project is based on artistic collaborations, poetry, performance, visuals and composition, planned to be released during the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (UNESCO, 2022 – 2032).