Slavs and Tatars is an art collective devoted to an area beginning East of the former Berlin Wall and ending West of the Great Wall of China. The combination of European, Slavic and Asian identities is a main focus in their work, in which they consistently explore different media and neglect fixed disciplines and style conventions. Originally organised as a reading group in 2006, the collective lives and travels in a region that has been realigning itself since the collapse of Soviet Communism and which experiences escalating tensions between Eastern and Western identities. Populations, allegiances and languages are all in transition. In exploring the area’s expansive historical narratives and transnational relationships, Slavs and Tatars create something associative, intimate and playful.
In their knowledgeable appropriation of different cultural traditions from the broadly understood area of Eurasia, Slavs and Tatars excavate lesser-known ideas for a better common life. Hung and Tart (Full Acacia), a lavishly executed glass model of a tongue, is an example of their multifaceted and often humorous practice. Together with the installation Lektor (Speculum Linguarum), this work is part of a larger project Mirrors for Princes, dealing with medieval guidebooks for rulers. The instructions, heard in different languages, on how to use one’s tongue with moderation are meant as guidance towards happiness and fulfillment. The title Lektor refers to a widespread method of voice-over translation of foreign films in Eastern European countries.