Slavs and Tatars
Cycle of Lecture-Performances 2009-2016
From 25 May until 26 October 2016

Focusing on an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China, Slavs and Tatars’ practice extends over three principal activities: publications, exhibitions, and lecture-performances. Their work is informed by a profound transcultural sense of humor and of play combining language games, pop culture and cutting edge trans-disciplinary research, in other words it re-imagines what it is that art can do.

Presented for the first time in Europe, the series of four lecture-performances by Slavs and Tatars addresses the crisis of modernity in the Eurasian continent – be it through the quarantine of religiosity, the rescue of crafts, or the Enlightenment heritage of imperialism – via such disparate perspectives as language politics, press freedom and orientalism.

Molla Nasreddin: Embrace Your Antithesis
25 May 2016, 7 pm
Through the lens of the legendary weekly satire Molla Nasreddin, the first lecture-performance looks at the Caucasus in the early 20th century as a hotbed of progressive ideas and characters. The heavily illustrated Molla Nasreddin addressed issues such as gender equality, education, colonialism, and Islam’s integration of modernity – all of which remain as relevant and pressing today as when the magazine was first published more than a century ago. In 2011, Slavs and Tatars translated the journal, arguably the most important periodical of the Muslim world in the 20th century, read from Morocco to India. In doing so, the artists had to negotiate issues such as freedom of speech, self-censorship, not only in the waning days of the Russian empire but in liberal societies in the early 21st century.

15 June 2016, 7 pm
In Slavs and Tatars’ first lecture-performance, the collective looks at two key modern moments – the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and Poland’s Solidarnosc movement in the 1980s – as bookends to the two major geopolitical narratives of the 20th and 21st century, respectively – Communism and political Islam. These same narratives act as bookends to the artists’ geographic remit: between the former Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China. A result of their research into the unlikely points of convergence in the economic, cultural, and political histories of Poland and Iran, 79.89.09 presents a lateral look at the two countries in their quest for self determination via the 24 hours news cycle, 17th century Sarmatism, and Iran’s 2009 Green Movement.

The Tranny Tease
21 September 2016, 7 pm
Indulging a phonetic, semantic, and theological slippage, The Tranny Tease explores the potential for transliteration – the conversion of scripts – as a strategy equally of resistance and research into notions such as identity politics, colonialism, and faith. The march of alphabets has always accompanied that of empires–Arabic with the rise of Islam, Latin with that of Roman Catholicism, and Cyrillic with the Orthodox Church and subsequently communism. Language politics plays an important role throughout Slavs and Tatars’ oeuvre: here, the artists focus in particular on the Turkic-speaking world, from Anatolia to Xinjiang, in an attempt not to emancipate peoples or nations but rather the sounds rolling off our tongues.

Sour on Power
26 October 2016, 7 pm
The final lecture will look at the phenomenon of dissimulation as a necessary step towards a cosmopolitan identity. With a particular focus on Crimean Karaites, an anti-rabbinical movement of Turkic Jews, the new lecture performance will reflect on this community’s uniquely elastic approach to self-identity as a means of survival vis-a-vis the pogroms of the 19th and Holocaust of the 20th centuries. Like much of Slavs and Tatars’ oeuvre, the new work will argue for an accumulation and accretion of subjectivities as an antidote to the excessive emphasis on the individual.


Centre for art and dialogue between the cultures of the East and the West
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67
B – 1050 Brussels

Price: 12€
7€ for the members of the Circle of the Villa
4€ for people under 26

T. +32 2 627 52 30

Slavs and Tatars, Molla Nasreddin: the magazine that would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, 2011