The art collective known as Slavs and Tatars will for the first time present the complete series of Love Letters carpets10 in alltogether with a new audio piece produced specifically for their exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art
. Concentrations 57: Slavs and Tatars, opening July 18 (Late Night Friday) and on view through December 14, 2014, will also include three additional works of sculpture from their current thematic series, Long Legged Linguistics. This installation is the latest in the Museums Concentrations series of project-based solo exhibitions by international emerging and under-represented artists. Concentrations began in 1981 as part of the DMAs commitment to showing the work of living artists, while preserving the excitement of the work.
Slavs and Tatars, founded in 2006, is an art collective whose installations, lecture-performances, sculptures and publications contemplate otherwise little-known affinities, syncretic ideas, belief systems and rituals among peoples of the Caucasus, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Pursuing an unconventional research-based approach, the group identifies the area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia as the focus of their multidisciplinary practice. In their most recent cycle of work, titled Long Legged Linguistics, the group has investigated language as a source of political, metaphysical and even sexual emancipation. With their trademark mix of high and low culture, ribald humor and esoteric discourse, the collective addresses the complex issue of alphabet politicsthe attempts by nations, cultures and ideologies to ascribe a specific set of letters to a given language.
The Dallas Museum of Art is very pleased to be one of the first U.S. museums to present the work of Slavs and Tatars, an international art collective shown in museums and biennials around the world, as part of our long-standing Concentrations series, said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. For more than 30 years, the Museums Concentrations series has showcased large-scale installations of over 50 emerging artists, making the work of contemporary artists more accessible while also continuing the DMAs distinguished history of presenting the art of the present.
For Concentrations 57, Slavs and Tatars present Love Letters, a series of 10 carpets based on the drawings of Russian poet, playwright and artist Vladimir Mayakovsky (18931930). Mayakovsky initially worked on behalf of the Bolshevik Revolution, lending his talents to give voice to the Russian people at a time of great social upheaval and reconstruction. But as the revolution changed its course, Mayakovskyknown as the peoples poetbecame extremely disillusioned and could not forgive himself for being complicit in Joseph Stalins ruthless rise to power; he ultimately committed suicide at age 37.
Through caricature, the carpets depict the wrenching experience of having a foreign alphabet imposed on ones native tongue and the linguistic acrobatics required to negotiate such change. In particular, the carpets tell two parallel stories: that of Vladimir Lenins forced Romanization of the Arabic-script languages spoken by the Muslim and Turkic-speaking people of the Russian Empire, and the 1928 language revolution of Mustafa Kamal AtatürkTurkeys first presidentin which the Turkish language was converted from Arabic to Latin script. Accompanying the carpets is an audio piece of 15 odes to letters which are no longer in use, Love Letters to Vladimir (2014), produced specifically for the DMA installation, as well as three sculptures from the artists Long Legged Linguistics thematic series.
Through humor and a disarming mix of high and low culture, Slavs and Tatars have the unique ability to make topics that seem foreign or historically distant feel not only approachable but incredibly timely and pertinent to our daily lives, added Gabriel Ritter, The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. For the current presentation at the DMA, the artists have taken up the complex issue of alphabet politics, exploring how, in their words, the march of alphabets has often accompanied that of empires and religions.
Concentrations 57: Slavs and Tatars is included in the Museums free general admission. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color illustrated brochure with explanatory text by exhibition curator Gabriel Ritter, The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art.