The Sweet Fruit of Substitution: Slavs and Tatars’ “Not Moscow Not Mecca” at the Secession

Slavs and Tatars, “Not Moscow Not Mecca,” The Secession, Vienna 2012

It’s been a busy year for Slavs and Tatars.

This winter, fresh off the heels of their publication Molla Nasreddin, the collective was featured at the MoMA, the New Museum and the Maraya Art Center in Sharjah. They are now preparing a solo show slated for this September at the MoMA. The project’s title”Beyonsense” condenses the ideas “Beyond Berlin, Beyond Belgrade, Beyond Bukhara.” “Beyonsense brings together the high highs and low lows that are the hallmark of Russia, the avant-garde of the early 20th century, and the promises of modernity itself,” S+T writes, in a blog on the show. “But perhaps most importantly Beyonsense brings together Beyoncé and nonsense in all of 10 letters.”

In the midst of all of this, earlier this month, the collective unveiled their latest exhibition, “Not Moscow Not Mecca” in Vienna’s seasoned Secession.

The exhibition is an evolving step in the collective’s most recent undertaking, “The Faculty of Substitution.” The initiative was broached in “Reverse Joy,” (a talk given at the New Museum this February as part of the parallel program of “The Ungovernables”) but this exhibition gives them a space to expound further on the idea.

“Substitution,” say Slavs and Tatars with reference to the title, “means the mental agility needed to develop coordination and equilibrium so that we can tell one story through another.” Not Moscow Not Mecca is the title of the show at the Secession—neither, nor. In their ongoing search for a basis for comparison between cultures, between Orient and Occident, between modernity and Islam, Slavs and Tatars discover similarities between things that seem incomparable. These processes of equation lead to an appropriation and reinterpretation of history, a process at odds with the familiar narratives of the powerful and victorious.

In particular, S+T zooms in Central Asia, as the unlikely meeting ground for Communism and Islam (hence the title, which sets the location as a nowhere space, between “neither” and “nor.”) As a point of entry, they select fruit, offering “a collective autobiography of the flora of Central Asia.” Bowls of walnuts and figs and small herds of citrus fruits cozy up alongside inflatable watermelons or decorative cherries, all symbols of the ways one can know a place without ever going there.

 What comes to your mind when you hear the term myth?
The fragrance greeting us each and every morning

Slavs and Tatars, “Not Moscow Not Mecca,” The Secession, Vienna 2012

“Not Moscow Not Mecca” will be on view at the Secession until June 17, 2012. For more information about the exhibition or the venue – much mythologized in its own right – check here.

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1 Response to The Sweet Fruit of Substitution: Slavs and Tatars’ “Not Moscow Not Mecca” at the Secession

  1. Pingback: Hallo from Switzerland..! A Brief Basel Wrap-up (with some Documenta on the side..) | Baibakov Art Projects

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