Dschingis Kahn? Dschebel? Dschunk food? Dschin and tonic? The Slavs and Tatars collective takes the idea of art as translation absolutely literal. In their Dresden survey exhibition Slavs & Tatars. Made in Dschermany the artists focus on language and its ambiguity, examining, among other things, the tetragraph dsch which, in German, is mainly used to represent the j sound in foreign words. Just like this foreign sequence of letters is added to the word Dschermany, visitors are invited to explore the individual in the foreign and the foreign in the individual, to open their minds and engage with the Slavs and Tatars way of thinking.
, run by Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, is presenting the largest exhibition of the artist collectives works in Germany to date. Large-format installations, works of sound, sculpture, videos and wall hangings all untiringly revolve around the topic of language. Language how it begins, develops, is used; its shape and shapelessness, its emotional and political role is a central impetus for the artists extensive works. This can be seen clearly in the collectives many publications, in which Slavs and Tatars develop their ideas. These thoughts are then staged and discussed in the form of lecture performances which accompany the collection, presented by the artists themselves.
In their works, the artists collective, which grew out of a book club in 2006 in Berlin, tackle traditions and customs, language, history, anthropology, philosophy and politics. Their artistic and discursive pieces always also revolve around examining belief and intercultural understanding. The artists describe themselves as a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China, known as Eurasia. Both (socio-)geographically and culturo-historically, Slavs and Tatars thus move within a colossal space, which represents the source of their knowledge. The collectives research is complemented and brought into a different context by playfully incorporating contemporary culture and blending together different religious and philosophical teachings: a syncretism which winds its way as a common theme through many of their works.
Alongside the presentation in the Lipsiusbau, other pieces by the artists collective can also be found in the SKDs Albertinum, Porzellansammlung and Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon. An extensive programme of supporting events includes the groups artistic practices being presented on guided tours or the public being invited to discussions with academics, and a one-day symposium Sum, ergo cogito.
The artists book Wripped Scripped accompanies the exhibition, jointly published by the Albertinum and Kunstverein Hannover: content by Slavs and Tatars, design by Stan de Natris / Slavs and Tatars, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 152 pages, 200 plates, 30, ISBN 978-3-7757-4472-0.