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Trondheim: Slavs and Tatars

March 12, 2015 - May 3, 2015

Slavs and Tatars: Long Legged Linguistics
12 March – 3 May

Trondheim kunstmuseum
Exhibition opening 12 March 6.30 pm


”…language politics, the march of empires and the resistance of phonemes”

The reading-group turned art collective Slavs and Tatars combines a linguistic approach with often ribaldrous, high- and low –culture references in works centred around culture politics and religion.

The cycle of work, titled Long Legged Linguistics, focusses on language as a source of political, metaphysical, and even sexual emancipation. In the history of cultural migration and exchange, the march of alphabets has often accompanied that of empires and religions: the Latin script along with the Roman Catholic faith; Arabic with Islam and Cyrillic with Orthodox Christianity, and subsequently the USSR.

The exhibition at Trondheim kunstmuseum presents sculptures, print works, and Love Letters –a series of carpets based on the drawings of Russian poet, playwright and artist Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930). Through caricature, the carpets depict the experience of having a foreign alphabet imposed on one’s native tongue and the linguistic acrobatics required to negotiate such change. In particular, the carpets tell two parallel stories: that of the Bolsheviks’ forced Latinization and later Cyrillicization of the Arabic-script languages spoken by the Muslim and Turkic-speaking peoples of the Russian Empire, and the 1928 language revolution of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk—Turkey’s first president—in which the Turkish language was converted from Arabic to Latin script.

The casualties of these linguistic takeovers—lost letters and mistranslations—are given center stage here as a testament to the trauma of modernization. The exhibition Long Legged Linguistics at Trondheim kunstmuseum contemplates and celebrates the resistance of these maladapted sounds.

The art collective Slavs and Tatars, works in a number of different media, including installations, lecture performances, publications and sculptures. Their works address connections between politics, language, history and social and cultural practices in the region they define as ”the area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia.”

On April 9 there will be a lecture performance, The Tranny Tease by Slavs and Tatars as part of the exhibition.

Johan Börjesson, Director Trondheim kunstmuseum


March 12, 2015
May 3, 2015
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Trondheim kunstmuseum
Bispegata 7 B
Trondheim, 7013 Norway
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