Kyzyl Tractor Opening Day Performance

On October 14th, the opening day of Thinking Collections: Telling Tales, Kyzyl Tractor reenacted Purification — one of the group’s legendary performances presented in Prague nearly twenty years ago. As a processional ceremony, the performance in Jersey City involved the artist rolling and sounding off one of their largest drums to date (specially built for this iteration.) With a captivated crowd following them across Mana’s outside grounds, the four Kyzyl Tractor members burned sage, generating large clouds of smoke while sprinkling water and making deep grunting shaman noises. The performance symbolized an effort to cleanse Jersey City and New York populations from “bad energy”. In this manner, the giant drum was transported with hundreds of spectators to Mana’s first-floor where it temporarily lives in a designated space called the Shaman Room.
With a tendency to monumentalize sound instruments, Kyzyl Tractor has often used the drum to assert ancient and indigenous materials along with Shamanistic customs into contemporary society. Shamanism is a spiritual practice that is an essential fabric of traditional Kazakh folklore and is characterized by a profound connection to consciousness, spirits, and the relationship between humans and nature. Kyzyl Tractor treats shamanism as an artistic strategy, similar to any other conceptual or physical material used in their practice. The group does this as both a way of seriously contemplating shaman philosophies while also spoofing them.
The performance, Purification, for which this drum is used, is a proposition for creating flow within a chaotic world — a movement towards a state of consciousness, transcending from darkness or depression to lightness and ecstasy. This process suggests that instead of fearing or banishing undesired qualities or feelings, such as envy, anger or bitterness, one should find a way to transmute them, ending in their sublimation.
Kyzyl Tractor has performed Purification in Prague, Perm, Vienna, Shymkent, Almaty and now, for the first time, Jersey City. In light of the location and context of this newly recreated work, it is especially critical to address questions about the future of humanity, the Earth, kindness, and appreciation.