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.
The exhibition reunites Kyzyl Tractor Art Collective, noted for their feverish experimentations in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, after almost two decades of working both separately and occasionally together. Known for reorienting nomadic, Sufi, and shamanistic philosophies as a new artistic language over the past three decades, their work continues to chronicle the seismic socioeconomic and political shifts in Central Asia.
The show comprises two monumental sculptural works—one newly conceived and a reproduction of an older destroyed drum as part of a renowned performance Purification that occurred 20 years ago. On October 14, the opening day of the exhibition, the collective will reenact this legendary performance ritual at Mana’s entry steps.
Central to the exhibition is an installation of over 45 paintings by Moldakul Narymbetov—the artist, baksy (shaman), poet, philosopher and former lead member of Kyzyl Tractor—showcasing his work from the 1980s until his passing in 2014. Numerous sculptures, paintings, drawings, found objects and other paraphernalia by current key members Smail Bayaliyev, Said Atabekov, Vitaliy Simakov, and Arystanbek Shalbayev are also included alongside numerous archival photos of the collective’s earlier performances.
Developed around curator Leeza Ahmady’s thesis of “seeing the artist as the first collector and their studios as collections,” the show is staged as a powerful energetic container for the group’s entire artistic oeuvre—an accumulation of the artists’ seeing, feeling, experiencing and questioning the world together. The second portion of the exhibition title, “Telling Tales,” alludes to Kyzyl Tractor’s enduring use of mythology and fiction as a strategy for unearthing profound hidden truths within the labyrinth of modern, living and societal conformities. Thinking Collections: Telling Tales is not only concerned with the stories being chronicled by the collective’s works, but also the story of Kazakhstan itself.
Focus Kazakhstan is implemented by the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan in association with the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan within the framework of the program Ruhani Zhangyru. The curator of Focus Kazakhstan is Roza Abenova, Head of Centre of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Asia Contemporary Art Week is a dynamic educational and curatorial platform that brings together leading New York and Asia-based art institutions, museums and galleries to present the largest showcase of cutting-edge exhibitions, innovative projects, provocative dialogues on current topics, and networking opportunities. Please see acaw.info for more information.
Nov. 17 | 2-5pm | Mana Contemporary, Jersey City
Exhibition Walkthrough & Open Forum