Arbat, Conquered by Red Tractor

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The Contemporary Art Festival -ArtBatFest, a traditional event for Almaty and its guests, exceeded all expectations in 2014. The organizers scattered the art objects like the fall leaves around the perimeter of the historical center. "The leaves" flown in tunnels and subways, to parking lots and shopping centers, laid down on the playgrounds...

As before, the creative team from the southern city of Shymkent - Kyzyl tractor, formed the main gold lawn at Almaty’s Arbat.  This time presented in a smaller scale at Tengri Umai gallery, it demonstrates the project Kyzyl Tractor 777 at ArtBatFest. The curator of the group was the famous art critic Dmitry Pilikin, who is currently the deputy director of the Museum of Modern Art of SPSU. This is how he explains the group creation under the magic number seven:

"Number 7 is a lucky number, but the current project Kyzyl tractor is not about happiness and enlightenment. It is about a tragic experience of the present.

For example, the installation of Vitaly Simakov, Composition 777 is devoted to the tragedy in the sky above Donetsk region, when the plane Boeing-777 crashed."

Collages of Said Atabekov: Kokpar - Moscow - 14, Alpamys - Kokpar - 14, Alpamys-14, Darbaza-14, combining archaic and modern human values, demonstrate the advantage of the material culture over the spiritual one, when a fancy car is shown as a grand prize for tradiintional kokpar and costumes of playing zhigits have a strong symbolism of popular brands. His other projects, Baiterek-1 and Baiterek-2, show the country’s main symbol that not only flies in the sky, but it is also balanced by the artist with clay to land a different character - a rocket from Baikonur.

Projects of other group members also have their symbols. The youngest of them, Syrlybek Bekbotaev, created an art project Rattle, where the modern IT-technology devices were placed at the Besik (baby’s cradle), instead of usual child attributes.

Diptych of Arystanbek Shalbaev, Genghis Khan, also allows you to read the aggressive influence of modern times on the development of civilization. In this case, in addition to the peaceful context, the military one is clearly traced. 

Perhaps, only Smail Bayaliev "flew away" slightly in time and space in these seven-digit structures and thinking about the fate of the modern time. Because besides his monumental works in the style of the steppe architectonics, he created a truly airy and seemingly simple art object. Namely, the space of cloud. But it has a head shape and it has a fan that can blow anything in our minds. But it was an interesting and eye-catching object for ArtBatFest.

“I wanted to create a visual lightness and volume due to multilayer structures, and to introduce even greater ease and agility with feathers,”-explains the author, Smail Bayaliev. “However for technical reasons, the feathers brought with us (and this was a big bag) were used by us for another performance, without which neither audience nor curators can imagine our group. We were asked to come up with the performance just in few minutes,”-he continues. “We had a lot of feathers and tape available. We began to wrap themselves and audience with tape to symbolically connect with them.” And Said took the feathers and started throwing those in the air. It looked like snow, like a symbolic purification.

The “tractor drivers" consider the idea of the ArtBatFest as very clear and lively, since, according to them, the people not only get an emotional charge, but they are also being educated through interactive participation in such art projects. Not everything in the modern world should be perceived through video cameras and cell phones. Art is not trapped in the framework of the monitors at such festivals. It is perceived by project authors and people in the space of 360 degrees. Everyone is a co-author of new measurements, giving the impetus for new thoughts and ideas. 

Photo: Courtesy of Kyzyl Tractor Group

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