previews

  • “Slavs and Tartars: Mirrors for Princes”

    Kunsthalle Zurich
    Limmatstrasse 270
    August 30, 2014–November 9, 2015

    Curated by Beatrix Ruf

    For their upcoming exhibition, Slavs and Tatars will cap their yearlong residency at Kunsthalle Zürich by claiming an entire floor of the institution, expanding on their project “Mirrors for Princes.”The theme is borrowed from the eponymous genre of advice literature for rulers, popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Christian and Muslim countries alike, which—more than providing simple guidelines for holding sovereign power—presented intricate systems of rhetorical reflection and refraction. Engagement with this subtle and strategically crafted material is loaded with critical potential. Yet if misread with the kind of naive vitalism and ornamental rhetoric that have become so prevalent among Eurasian-focused practices in recent years, the subject matter may serve only to reinforce the crude, outdated dichotomy between rational West and mystical East. In any event, the exhibition should prove an excellent chance to consider whether what we value is a true engagement with the political or only a veiled evasion thereof.