Northern Barbarians, part 1: Bride and Groom

Rustam Khalfin


Video, 00:11:00.
Materials: dvd

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. S0439_1).

This video work (created in collaboration with Yuliya Tikhonova) is based on an old nomadic custom, as described in the notes of an English traveler who visited Central Asia during the 18th century. In depicting various nomadic customs and traditional relationships, the traveler himself did not pay any particular attention to marriage customs. The artist, however, having read these notes after 200 years, used them as unique material for the project at hand. According to an old Kazakh custom, the groom has to pay a ransom for the bride to her parents, the size of which is agreed upon in advance. The groom cannot take the bride from her parents’ house and arrange the wedding until he has paid this sum of money in full. After the agreement has been made, however, bride and groom have an opportunity to spend three nights together. The bride sleeps on a carpet in the yurt while the groom sleeps outside. They are separated by a kerege, a lattice in the entrance of the yurt.

Maybe it will let them see and touch each other, or even more? A video film is not an exact representation of the ancient custom, since the ancient nomadic kerege dividing the carpet (the engaged couple’s bed) was a line that strictly marked a marriage that was still to come. Then again, nobody really knows what actually used to happen when the bride in the yurt and the groom outside the wall of felt remained by themselves in the night of the vast steppe. This intrigue raises the possibility for various interpretations and meanings. The artist expresses his own understanding through the video film. And the audience finds itself in an active space, where desire is transformed into spreading, dominant energy.

Media View all

Events View all

Ensembles View all

Actors View all