9 December 2015

Slavs and Tatars' 'Mirrors for Princes' at the Institute of Modern Art

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

When you walk into the ‘Mirrors for Princes’ exhibition by the art collective Slavs and Tatars you’re surrounded by a cacophony of voices. There are six different languages marbling together, including the Aboriginal language Yuggera. They’re coming from mirrored speakers dispersed around a luxuriously carpeted room. In fact, the voices are reading the Kutadgu Bilig, written in the 11th century by a Turkic author. It’s a part of medieval literature and a form called ‘mirrors for princes’. Apparently, they can best be described as self-help books for incoming royals. But the texts still raise issues relevant today - including the separation of church and state.

The second part of the exhibition is a dark surreal room with evocative luminous sculptures: glass tongues, long blonde hair, combs. It’s meant to be a comment on the concern around grooming expressed in the ‘mirrors for princes’. And it does create an unsettling feeling of intimacy and fetishisation.

The Slavs and Tatars collective is interesting in itself. They fuse together world cultures, particularly European and Asian areas. They started out nearly a decade ago. Since then, they’ve produced exhibitions, books and lecture performances everywhere from MoMA to the Pompidou. 

Enough talk, take a look:

No comments:

Post a Comment