E-Issue 05 –– VCE
Fall 2022

September 5th, 2022



  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in VCE
  3. Pop(Corn): UAE National Pavilion
  4. Rapport: Venice
  5. Zeitgeist of our Time: Füsun Onur for the Turkish Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
  6. GAD’s Top Picks: National Pavilions
  7. Strangers to the Museum Wall: Kehinde Wiley’s Venice Exhibition Speaks of Violence and Portraiture
  8. Questioning Everyday Life: Alluvium by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian at OGR Torino in Venice

E-05++
Fall/Winter 2022-23


Artist Interview January 19th, 2023
NYC Reflecting on Her Southwestern Chinese Bai Roots, Peishan Huang Captures Human Traces on Objects and Spaces

Artist Interview January 8th, 2023 
TYO Shu Yonezawa and the Art of Animation

Artist Interview December 9th, 2022
DXB Navjot Altaf Unpacks Eco-Feminism and Post-Pandemic Reality at Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition December 2nd, 2022
TYO Wetland Lab Proposes Sustainable Cement Alternative in Tokyo

Exhibition November 11th, 2022
TYO
“Atami Blues” Brings Together UAE-Based and Japanese Artists in HOTEL ACAO ANNEX



E-Issue 04 –– IST 
Spring 2022

March 15th, 2022



  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in IST
  3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol
  4. Rapport: Istanbul
  5. Independent Spaces in Istanbul: Sarp Özer on Operating AVTO


E-04++ 
Spring/Summer 2022


Curator Interview July 9th, 2022
IST Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS

Market Interview June 28th, 2022
HK 
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe

Exhibition June 27th, 2022
UAE
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks

Exhibition June 21st, 2022
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis

Artist Interview June 13th, 2022
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation

Artist Interview May 13th, 2022
DXB 
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Exhibition May 6th, 2022
IST
 Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”

Exhibition April 23rd, 2022
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall

Market Interview March 28th, 2022
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models

Curator Interview March 21st, 2022

E-Issue 03 –– TYO 
Fall 2021

October 1st, 2022



  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in TYO
  3. Pop(Corn): Nimyu
  4. Ahmad The Japanese: Bady Dalloul on Japan and Belonging
  5. Rapport: Tokyo 
  6. Alexandre Taalba Redefines Virtuality at The 5th Floor
  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

E-03++
Fall/Winter 2021-22


Exhibition Review March 14th, 2022
DXB Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?

Exhibition March 11th, 2022
DXB Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022

Artist Interview March 10th, 2022
DXB Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022

Artist Interview February 26th, 2022
TYO Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project

Exhibition Review February 11th, 2022
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421
Curator Interview October 15th, 2021
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

Exhibition October 7th, 2021
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity

Market Interview October 6th, 2021
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance

Exhibition October 5th, 2021
DXB
Engage101 Presents “Connected, Collected” at Sotheby’s Dubai

E-Issue 02 –– NYC 
Spring 2021

February 21st, 2021



  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City 
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

E-02++
Spring/Summer 2021


Exhibition Review August 9th, 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections

Artist Interview June 30th, 2021
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka

Exhibiton Review June 20th, 2021
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421

Exhibition June 11th, 2021
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor

Market Interview May 26th, 2021
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age

Curator Interview May 20th, 2021
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre

Artist Interview May 11th, 2021
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity

Exhibition May 9th, 2021
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London

Artist Interview April 28th, 2021
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited

Exhibition Review April 27th, 2021
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel

Artist Interview April 26th, 2021
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto

Exhibition April 16th, 2021
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy

Exhibition Review April 5th, 2021
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes

Exhibition Review April 1st, 2021
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows

Exhibition March 28th, 2021
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks 

Curator Interview March 21st, 2021
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition Review March 7th, 2021
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421

Exhibition Review March 3rd, 2021
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB
Summer 2020 

August 1st, 2020



  1. Editor’s Note 
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai 
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

E-01++
Fall/Winter 2020-21


Exhibition Review February 21st, 2021
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists    

Curator Interview January 25th, 2021
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists

Exhibition Review December 9th, 2020
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer

Exhibition Review
November 23rd, 2020


AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421 

Exhibition Review November 21st, 2020
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue

Exhibition Review November 19th, 2020
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020

Exhibition Review November 16th, 2021
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye

Exhibition Review November 13th, 2020
DXB
Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre

Book Review October 28th, 2020
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus

Exhibition Review October 22nd, 2020
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE

Exhibition October 22nd, 2020
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ

Exhibition Review October 19th, 2020
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?

Market Interview October 14th, 2021
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers

Artist Interview September 27th, 2020
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh

Exhibition Review September 24th, 2020
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React


Curator Interview September 14th, 2020
UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community

Artist Interview September 10th, 2020
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia

Artist Interview September 7th, 2020
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear

Market Interview September 4th, 2020
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’

Exhibition September 1st, 2020
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi

Market Interview August 28th, 2020
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting

Artist Interview August 26th, 2020
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations

Artist Interview August 24th, 2020
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space

Artist Interview August 23rd, 2020
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism

Map August 16th, 2020
BEY GAD Map: Arts & Culture Relief for Beirut

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Slavs and Tatars: "Pulling a Thread to Undo the Sweater"


By Sophie Arni

Published on August 28, 2018
Originally published in GAD Archive.

        Slavs and Tatars are a special collective in the art world. They are Berlin-based, yet travel the world from museums to galleries, using openings as opportunities to discuss future projects. Since 2006, their core mission is to challenge the Western perception of Eurasia: a vast region they refer to as "East of the Berlin Wall and West of the Great Wall." This land is home to the Slavs, the Russians, the Arabs, the Iranians, the Caucasians, the Turks, the Tatars, the Mongolians, the Chinese, and a myriad of smaller communities in-between. Perhaps without planning it, the collective- who has personal roots in this region - have become its art world ambassadors, representing academic research on German Orientalism or ethnographic research Molla Nasreddin to the audiences of major European and American museums. By having access to primary sources and on-the-ground connections and removing the dust off of obscure histories, they managed to elevate social fabrics and dialects that are, by essence, 'local' by using the global tool of irony. The result: sumptuous installations, well-researched books, cheeky posters, and thought-provoking lectures, which bridge gaps between localities and periods which would have otherwise not interacted. Educating their audience might not be their primary goal, but will surely become their legacy as Slavs and Tatars continue their oeuvre.

We had the pleasure to sit down with them, virtually, to discuss exhibitions, books, and favorite cities.

Slavs and Tatars, Nose to Nose. 5 May - 21 July 2017. Installation view. Pejman Foundation. Photo: Courtesy of the Third Line Gallery, Dubai.

Sophie Arni: In your work, you explore a myriad of issues but keep a geographical continuity: you’re interested in the vast region “East of the Berlin Wall and West of the Great Wall.” You exhibited and lectured inside and outside this region, at the Kunsthalle Zurich, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, and Institute and at Guggenheim in New York City. First question, if you could exhibit your works anywhere, where would your ideal space and location be?

Slavs and Tatars: We prefer to speak about ideal publics rather than spaces or venues. Thus far, the most engaging publics have been in Poland and Turkey. There’s a rare combination of both curiosity and knowledge about the subject matter: our propos are not so foreign, remote or exotic as say in the UK or US. This is pure conjecture, but perhaps what unites these two publics is that discussions about traditions, faith, and others have not been so easily swept under the proverbial Persian rug: these issues are still being debated, warts and all.

S.A.: Slavs represent a large cultural identity shared by much of Eastern Europe. Tatars represent a smaller community, who share Tatar ethnicity and Turkic language and live primarily in Southern Russia and Ukraine. What choose these two terms: ‘Slav’ and ‘Tatar’? Was the point to highlight shared cultural heritage between the Slavs and the Tatars?

S&T: Like much of our work, the name itself is a kind of elastic grain: it contains within its frivolity or silliness, a dense, almost elastic kernel of discourse. Given how much the world has changed in recent years, it’s important to recall the context of 2006, when Slavs and Tatars was founded. Ten new member states had joined the EU and there was lots of hysterical talk about the proverbial Polish plumber, Bulgarian builder, etc allegedly taking jobs from Western Europeans. When many people, especially in the West, hear the words “Slavs and Tatars”, they think of a horde of invaders, à la Braveheart, waiting to rape and plunder. But the choice of “Tatars” in particular reveals a complex constellation, beyond its accurate designation of two distinct peoples (Crimean Tatars and other Tatars). For centuries, it was a catch-all term in European languages to designate those unknown peoples of dark complexion in our region. While Arabs, Turks, Persians, and say Armenians were known ethnicities, “Tatar” was used for various other Caucasian, Central Asian peoples.


Slavs and Tatars, Saalbadereien / Bathhouse Quackeries, 3 February - 15 April 2018. Installation views. Westfälischer Kunstverein. Photo: Thorsten Arendt.


S.A.: Using installations, books, and lecture-performances, you deal with the semiotics of alphabets and post-Marxist analysis of late modern Russian, Iranian, Arab histories (amongst other issues). Your practice deals heavily with signs and deciphering the meaning of these signs, but always with a fun yet didactic irony. What do you think about the current wave in curatorial studies to deviate from semiotics, from the cognitive analysis of representation, and move towards the ‘affect’, the emotional response to an artwork?

S&T: It’s a welcome departure from the overbearing emphasis on objectivity and clinical analysis that is the heritage of the Enlightenment. Much of the founding impulse of Slavs and Tatars was to question the unflinching belief in the benefits of the Enlightenment, without considering the blowback: from colonialism to genetically modified produce to splitting dinner bills.

S.A.: Also, can you tell us more about your views on the ex-Soviet bloc? You speak about ex-USSR in your lecture-performance but it is rarely a main point of focus. I can think of one Soviet film, in particular, that really moved me in terms of cultural exchange between Slavs and Arabs: the 1970 White Sun of the Desert (Белое солнце пустыни). Do you have any thoughts to share on the Soviet identity and Slavs & Tatars’ geography’?

S&T: Eurasianism, as articulated by various individuals or groups in Russian history (from early 20th century figures such as Roman Jakobson and Trubetzkoy to Gumilev to today’s more reactionary Alexander Dugin), has always been a fraught concept in so far as it often assumes Russia as the center of the Eurasian landmass. Our interest in Eurasia is one of the margins and rims, as an area of syncretism through and through, meaning a collapse of space and distances. Syncretism implies incorporating foreign ideas or beliefs from other places (intellectually and geographically), but it also implies a collapse of time as those non-native ideas or belief systems are often from another period. Finally, our geographical remit is committed to exploring the radical margins over the rotten center: It is largely Muslim but not the Middle East, largely Russian-speaking but not Russia, and largely in Asia but historically not under Chinese rule (with the exception of Xinjiang).

S.A.: I see your practice as some sort of cultural soft-power diplomacy. You make alternative histories from alternative regions accessible and attractive to a mainstream audience. Do you agree? Or do you view your work as more of archival research for a specialized audience?

S&T: Yes, to a certain extent, we agree. But it’s important to remember that Slavs and Tatars is dedicated to those areas, ideas, beliefs we don’t understand or are not necessarily drawn to. True to our origins as a makeshift book club, we are learning in the process as well: it is not a pedagogical platform. We definitely do not see our work as archival in so far as we don’t work with archives; moreover, archival research implies deference (of our 10 publications only translation of Molla Nasreddin fits this description) whereas we believe one must ‘break’ one’s sources.


Left: Slavs and Tatars, Molla Nasreddin, 2011 (1st ed.), offset print, 28 × 24 cm, 208 pages, colour throughout, glue and stitched binding, gloss-laminated and black foil embossed cover. Published by JRP|Ringer. ISBN 9783037642122. Right: Slavs and Tatars, AaaaaaahhhhZERI!!!, 2009, screenprint on paper, 85 × 70 cm, edition of 100, numbered.


S.A.: You truly stand as an artist-researcher, a new figure in the art world who does the work of an author, of a curator and an artist all at once. I’m curious about your publishing practice. Can you tell us more about the middle ground between publishing books and creating artworks? Do you see the two as the same? Do you see your books as artworks, or keep the books, lecture-performances, and installations separate in your mind?

S&T: The conception of the work is editorial in so far as we work according to research cycles—each roughly three years in duration, and each on a given topic (be it language politics, German orientalism, or medieval advice literature). While the books and lectures articulate a series of concerns, the question becomes, of course, what of the artwork, i.e. sculptures, installations. They cannot illustrate apropos and as such must disarticulate the very concerns above. As in, pulling a thread to undo a sweater.


Slavs and Tatars, I Utter Other, 2014-present. Lecture-performance presented at Guggeinheim Museum, NYC; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Steirischer Herbst, Graz; Albertinum, Dresden; and Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster amongst other venues. Photo: Courtesy of Slavs and Tatars.


S.A.: Last question, if you had to pick three, what are Slavs & Tatars’ favorite cities?

S&T: Almaty, Sarajevo, and Seoul.

S.A.: Beautiful choice, thank you for sharing.




This interview was made possible thanks to the Third Line Gallery. To see more of the artists' works and keep up with their latest projects, visit Slavs and Tatars' website.


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 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. Their work has also been the subject of solo exhibitions at the MoMA, New York (2012); Secession, Vienna (2012); Kunsthalle Zurich (2014); Dallas Museum of Art (2014); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2015); and Salt, Istanbul (2017). Slavs and Tatars has published several books: Kidnapping Mountains (Book Works, 2009), Not Moscow Not Mecca (Revolver/Secession, 2012), Khhhhhhh (Mousse/Moravia Gallery, 2012), Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz (2nd edition, Bookworks, 2017), as well as their translation of the legendary Azeri satire Molla Nasreddin (now in its 2nd edition with I.B. Tauris). On the occasion of a mid-career survey in 2017, the collective’s first monograph was published by König Books. Slavs and Tatars’ lecture-performances are hosted by leading art spaces and prestigious universities around the globe, including Yale University, Princeton University, the University of Warsaw, and the Royal College of Art, London.