Curious acts and seemingly small gestures unite the works in this exhibition. Artists Mounira Al Solh, Yto Barrada, Mircea Cantor and the collective Slavs and Tatars devise playful interventions into their everyday environment, combining social comment and investigation with humour or irony to throw off our habits of thinking. Emerging from the specific contexts in which they are working, the light-hearted approach of these works belies the artists’ acute socio-political insights.
The title of the exhibition is taken from Mircea Cantor’s 2011 video of the same name in which a single take of a child saying ‘I decided not to save the world’ is shown on a continuous loop. The work is emblematic of the complexity that underlies the simplest of statements and is typical of the way Cantor responds to contemporary concerns using simple and direct gestures.
Yto Barrada is known for the playful nature of her work, rooted in the specific context of Tangier, Morocco, where she lives and works. Her sculpture, manifesto, and film included in this exhibition use humour and satire to address the country’s rapid modernisation.
Rawane’s Song 2006, an autobiographical video by Mounira Al Solh, is a witty take on her struggle to make work about the Lebanese wars in the wake of the previous generation of Beirut artists. Ironically it ends up addressing exactly the issues she claims to be avoiding.
Slavs and Tatars’ practice examines a region they describe as ‘east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China.’ Their text-based works are taken from a variety of sources and play with double-meanings, mistranslation, language barriers and notions of the dichotomy between east and west.
Mounira Al Solh was born in 1978 in Beirut, where she lives and works.
Yto Barrada was born in 1971 in Paris. She lives and works in Tangier.
Mircea Cantor was born in 1977 in Oradea, Romania. He lives and works in Paris.
Slavs and Tatars are a collective of polemics and intimacies devoted to Eurasia!
Curated by Duygu Demir and Kyla McDonald. This exhibition is a collaboration between Tate Modern, London and SALT Istanbul.
This programme has been made possible with the generous support of Catherine Petitgas.
As part of the collaborative exchanges, Gasworks hosted Duygu Demir for a talk and discussion on her role at SALT Programs and Research in August 2011.