Slavs and Tatars is an art collective that address the end of a Eurocentric vision of modernity through a hybrid approach to composition. Incorporating installations, performances, public interventions, art objects, and their own publications, Slavs and Tatars, founded in 2006, attempt to resuscitate ‘Eurasia’, an equally imagined and political geography the collective designate as ‘east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China’.
The tension within the collective’s name is the key to understanding their artistic mission. ‘Slavs’ refers to the groups of people in central and eastern Europe speaking Slavic languages, countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Belarus, Bulgaria and Slovenia. ‘Tatars’ refers to Turkic people living in Asia and Europe who originate from the Mongolian plateau. ‘Slavs and Tatars’, then, signifies less an identity, but rather the collapse of one, and is, therefore, a central motive and motif in the collective’s work.
Slavs and Tatars are known to work in three-year cycles. The collective begin with bibliographical research in a given subject area before taking on field trips to subject specific sites to add an affective depth to the analytical breadth of their investigation. Recently, the collective’s show for Art Space Pythagorian, 800m from the Turkish border, called ‘Long Legged Linguistics’ is characteristic of the collective’s practice. Slavs and Tatars create installations and environments in which visitors can both view and interact with the art objects on exhibition. Their projects consult the relay and hybridisation of traditions, the language of politics, and the politics of language, and are known for a style that is both zany and irreverential in character.
The collective have exhibited extensively around the world, most recently in Dubai, Warsaw, Berlin, and Brisbane. In 2012 their exhibition ‘Beyonsense’ was held at MoMA, New York.