Nice tan, Slavs and Tatars!

Slavs and Tatars is the group working with polemics in the area between Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China called Eurasia. This collective uses different media, disciplines and themes focusing on the sphere of influence between Slavs, Caucasians and Central Asians. The group was founded in 2006 and started to work on the ex-Soviet territory, where the several countries were feeling difficulties with the new reality of their independent existence trying to formulate their identity. But Slavs and Tatars do not take a position of strictly analytics; they are just talking about it in more associative, intimate and playful way. Their projects are researching process, so, their viewers can consider the way of their research. They investigate the languages, the separate letters, phrases and as a result place their publications and conclusions on the exhibitions.

One of their most famous projects is the Nations, which was also one of the first. It was made for the 10th anniversary of Parisian boutique Colette. It includes 50 mirrors with fun aphoristic phrases about different Eurasian nations. Slavs and Tatars conceptualize contemporary relations between nations that of course is met with different reactions their international audience. Their works is not really shocking, but their way of talking can be unusual for traditional nations.


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  1. Thank you for bringing this wonderful work to my attention! Although, I would rather interpret it as a playful commentary on how the language of advertisements and stereotypes (which is, arguably, the language of modern globalized capitalism) deconstructs national identity. If it rhymes, it fits, and the meanings do not matter.

  2. The Slavs and Tatars is a group a lot of people and cultural institutions are curious about, first of all, because of its catchy name. Secondly, people are aware of their 2007 project called “Nations” which provided witty slogans concerning different nations. Two of project posters proclaim “Nice tan, Turkmenistan!” and “Men are from Murmansk. Women are from Vilnius”. This particular project talked about the multiethnic region at the historical intersection of the Ottoman, Russian and British empires. And this is actually, of course, in a wider range a theme the Slavs and Tatars dedicate their art to.
    It is of a prime importance to say that people who are members of the group are mostly interested in the research of such issues and questions. Art is sort of a technique they use to provide the world with their thoughts. One of the principal partners Payam says, “the idea wasn’t to be an art collective, just a collective. I now say we do “art” because if we say we’re a research
    collective then we are judged on academic research, but we’re not as academic as academics”. He continues, “At the same time, you can’t bite the hand that feeds you. What we do couldn’t exist in another milieu and we’re really grateful for that”. Thus, with no obligations to the academic community or any specific community, be it professional, national or ethnic—the group avoids the commonplace equation of seriousness with intellectual rigor. Humor and its potential to offer a seductive form of critique, allows them to introduce their arcane subject matter to a broad international audience.

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