Slavs and Tatars: Mouth to Mouth

Slavs and Tatars: Mouth to Mouth


Slavs and Tatars, Love Letters No. 9, 2014. Courtesy the artists and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.

June 6, 2017
Slavs and Tatars
Mouth to Mouth
June 22–August 27, 2017
SALT Galata
Bankalar Caddesi 11, Karaköy
34420 Istanbul

Berlin-based collective Slavs and Tatars’ first mid-career survey Mouth to Mouth brings together works addressing cultural translation, shared linguistic heritage, and mysticism in contemporary societies. Taking place across three floors of SALT Galata, the exhibition especially highlights the collective’s research into historical shifts in Turkic languages, often related to transformations of political and social systems.

Love Letters, a series of carpets from 2013-14, underlines the use of language in politics as a propaganda tool via the caricatures of futurist poet and Bolshevik supporter Vladimir Mayakovsky, also including references to the 1928 language revolution of the Republic of Turkey. Another body of work built on the esoteric dimensions of the uvular fricative sound of [kh] relates to ideas and concepts ranging from Islamic mysticism to the Russian literary avantgarde. Likewise, the installation Reverse Joy (2012) enshrines the letters that correspond to the [kh] sound in the Cyrillic, Hebrew, and Perso-Arabic alphabet by stenciling them around a small fountain that sprouts a nebulous red liquid, while Qit Qat Qa (2013) presents the Cyrillic approximation for [q] or the guttural qaf as a smooth, shiny leg.

Lektor (2014-ongoing) invites the public to an uninterrupted sound sequence with excerpts from the 11th century ethical and political treatise Kutadgu Bilig (lit. the wisdom that brings happiness) in six languages: German, Arabic, Polish, Spanish, Turkish, and its original Uighur. Similar to the synchronicity evoked by rahlé-shaped, mirrored speakers of Lektor, a text-based video Hamdami (2016) considers the simultaneity of sensuality and spirituality in the Sufi tradition by overlapping scripts in Persian and Turkish with audio in English. Connecting the different floors of SALT Galata, the sculpture series Triangulation (2011) not only references Communists’ historical anti-Islam campaign targeting Central Asia, but also extends this dichotomy to the 20th and 21st centuries with wordplay.

A lecture-performance by Slavs and Tatars will take place on the opening evening of the exhibition at SALT Galata. On the occasion of this mid-career survey, which was previously shown at CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw and Pejman Foundation in Tehran, a monograph is published by Walther König.



Commissioners Exhibition
September 13–November 26, 2017
SALT Galata

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June 6, 2017

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