The Polish-Iranian/American artist collective active since 2006 addresses cultural phenomena seemingly distant from each other. Characterized by the meeting of European and Asian cultures, as well as diverse historical traditions and social habits, the vast region east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China serves as the primary field of research for the anonymous artists. Everyday objects, archive documents, and linguistic phenomena provide points of departure for their works demonstrating social processes and historical links, often employing absurdity, humor.
In the framework of OFF-Biennale: Gaudiopolis 2017, Slavs and Tatars presents an installation in the form of a pickle-juice bar. The title Society of Rascals
was drawn from the name of a now-forgotten literary society of 19th-century Vilnius. The society was famous for its heavily ironic, caustic displays of satire that stood counter to the self-important stance of the romantics, their soothsaying and exalted engagement in the nationalist discourse. Slavs and Tatars reference the group’s “pavement prose,” or specifically low-brow language, coupled with its cosmopolitan approach towards national identity.
They bring in the centuries-old kitchen tradition of pickling to ferment or turn sour the romantic conception of fatherland and power. The main characters of Pickle Politics
, a cycle part of the project, are pickles, objects of national identity and pride in Eastern European countries. Pieces of the project introduce paternalist, nationalist visions from these countries with a sour, austere sense of humor, and advertise pickle juice, a well-known folk remedy as the sour, sobering cure for the delirium of power. The pickled juices, an antidote for the pathos of Eastern European patriotism, will be served on the day of the opening.