Kyzyl Tractor Art Collective

Art collective Kyzyl Tractor was established in the early 1990’s by Vitaliy Simakov, a college professor and member of the spatial-structural composition school. Kyzyl Tractor has successfully developed its characteristic line of research on the mutual influence of traditional values of culture and civilization. The art group's practices are characterized as distinctive, original, authentic and what is more important influential not only in the local context but in a wider global processes that the art history goes through in the modern society.

The name and members have not remained consistent throughout the collective’s existence but have and will continue to change. The first known title of the collective was Shymkent Trans Avant-Garde and then SaA, a verbal expression short for salem, meaning hello or peace be upon you. Since Kyzyl Tractor’s first exhibition, Moldakul Narymbetov was the group’s leader until his passing in February 2012. Current members include the artists Smail Bayaliyev, Said Atabekov, Vitaliy Simakov, and Arystanbek Shalbayev, who have all been the main driving force of the art group in recent years.

Constant nomadic movement, a common narrative of the 1990’s, is present in most of the collective’s performances. Sacred materials such as wood and wool, felt, and other textiles found in the steppes of Kazakhstan are generally featured in Kyzyl Tractor’s performances, along with instruments like the Shan-Kobyz, dombra and drums. The principles of the spatial-structural composition school and dervish, nomadic and Tengri heritage have been visible in their first ten years of performative practice throughout the 1990’s. Growing out of the group’s collective work, each member has simultaneously developed their own artistic practices over the years.

Written by Leeza Ahmady as a preamble for the curatorial statement of Thinking Collections: Telling Tales.

 
 

Press

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Thinking Collections: Telling Tales: A Survey Exhibition of Kyzyl Tractor Art Collective

The first floor gallery at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City has been transformed into a cozy Kazakhstani tea room. Low tables adorned with lavish tea cups are placed amidst colorful, haphazardly patterned cushions which are scattered on the floor. But the suggestion of relaxation is interrupted by the violent sounds coming from the black and white scenes projected on the walls.

The Brooklyn Rail

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More Than 200 Artworks by an Eminent Kazakhstani Art Collective Are Being Held Hostage by Unpaid Contractors After a Splashy International Exhibition

The project "Focus Kazakhstan" was meant to elevate the country's art, but mismanagement has resulted in allegedly damaged work and lack of payment.

ArtnetNews, September 24, 2019

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Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary hosts the third instalment of “Focus Kazakhstan” featuring the work of Kyzyl Tractor Art Collective.

Following the success of London’s “Post-nomadic Mind” exhibition, the third instalment of “Focus Kazakhstan” is due to open at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, USA under the banner “Thinking Collections: Telling Tales”. The show is nestled within the larger programming of Asia Contemporary Art Week, offering itself as a retrospective exhibition of Kyzyl Tractor Art Collective’s momentous breadth of work.

Art Radar, October 23, 2018

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Focus Kazakhstan—Thinking Collections: Telling Tales

Asia Contemporary Art Week (ACAW)’s third signature program for the season, Thinking Collections: Telling Tales, connects New York and Central Asia’s art scenes through an unprecedented survey exhibition of Kyzyl Tractor, Kazakhstan’s most celebrated art collective. The exhibition, hosted at Mana Contemporary, is part of Focus Kazakhstan—a landmark series of thematic presentations led by the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan across four cities: London, Berlin, Suwon, and Jersey City.

e-flux, October 3, 2018

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FOCUS KAZAKHSTAN – THINKING COLLECTIONS: TELLING TALES

Four men, members of the Kyzyl Tractor Art Collective, rolled a large drum made of wool, wood, ropes, metal, sheepskin and plastic onto the front lawn of Mana Contemporary in Jersey City. Turned on its side like a wheel, the Purification Drum (2003/2018) easily towered over them as they steered it through the crowd of onlookers. Using a whip-like stick, one man beat the taut surface as he pushed and rotated the drum onto the pavement. Another trailed behind him, dragging what appeared to be a stack of rectangular rugs.

ArtAsiaPacific

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Focus Kazakhstan–Thinking Collections: Telling Tales

Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. Its etymology comes from kazakh, meaning 'wanderer', and stan, which in Persian means 'land'. And so the country—ninth largest in the world—is literally translated to 'land of the wanderers'. 

OCULA MAGAZINE, 15 November 2018

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After the time of hope

Retrospectives of nineties post-Soviet art more often than not give themselves such titles as "The Energetic Years" or "The Time of Enthusiasm and Drive". One of the best examples was an article printed in the Central Asian catalogue at the 51st Venice Biennale, which was entitled "The Nineties. The Sweet Time of Hope".

MOSCOW ART MAGAZINE, 2007

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Focus Kazakhstan — Thinking Collections: Telling Tales

Asia Contemporary Art Week (ACAW)’s third signature program for the season, Thinking Collections: Telling Tales, connects New York and Central Asia’s art scenes through an unprecedented survey exhibition of Kyzyl Tractor, Kazakhstan’s most celebrated art collective. The exhibition, hosted at Mana Contemporary, is part of Focus Kazakhstan—a landmark series of thematic presentations led by the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan across four cities: London, Berlin, Suwon, and Jersey City.

artrabbit