Slavs and Tatars is an art collective devoted to an area East of the former Berlin Wall and West of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. Their practice is based on three activities: exhibitions, books and lecture-performances. With a heady mix of high and low brow humor, the artists turn to sculptures, installations, and text to excavate and explore a geography that is equally imagined as it is political. Since 2006, the collective’s work has been exhibited at major museums and biennials internationally, including Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, 10th Sharjah, 8th Berlin, 3rd Thessaloniki, and 9th Gwangju Biennials. They will perform on March 31 at Acud for Karma Ltd Extended.
1: Russian is still the second most geographically wide-spread second language in the world.
2: Squirrels can’t remember where they store 80% of what they stored for winter.
3: To speak is to translate.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your performance?
2. How and when did you get into making Slavs & Tatars?
We started in 2006, as a make-shift reading group: sharing material amongst a small group of friends and colleagues, translating and printing small runs of previously untranslated texts or out-of-print editions, etc.
More than a decade later, the book remains central to our practice as is the act of collective reading. We’ve published 8 books in the interim and created spaces, sculptures and installations to engage with them. However, as our work has grown to include other media–exhibitions, installations, audio-work, lecture-performances–the book’s position has become more fragile within this ecosystem, ostensibly eclipsed by other admittedly more seductive platforms.
3. What are your favourite albums of all time?
Julius Eastman Unjust Malaise
Hayedeh Gol Vaajeh
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
Plotzensee in Summer.
6. If there was no art in the world, what would you do instead?
Same as we’re doing now, in a different context.
7. What was the last record/book you bought?
Langston Hughes’ I Wonder as I Wander about the poet’s travels, to the USSR among other places and in particular to Uzbekistan which reminded him of the American South and race relations in his homeland.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
9. What was your best performance experience (as performer or spectator)?
Recently, the Julius Eastman concert at Berliner Festspiele.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
It’s a tool of acceleration to be bookended by other, resolutely slower processes.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?