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The Opening Response: Slavs and Tatars

The Opening Response titles a special series of interviews with artists, curators, writers, composers, mediators, and space-makers around the world. Dialoguing within and around the thematics which have rapidly emerged as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we offer within this frame a differentiated, honest, and beautiful bid at understanding. Weekly, distinct doors are opened into the lives of the contributors; into their experiences dawning on pleasure, productivity, metaphysics, and paradigmatic shifts. Hopefully, these conversations can act as way-posts and lead to furthered empathy, unison, and co-creation. The Opening Response meets the need for weaving the autonomy of a web of conscious communications in times of extreme perplexity.

Slavs and Tatars is an art collective and “a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia”. Founded in 2006, the group’s work is centred on three activities: exhibitions, books and lecture performances.

 

Josseline Black – In this phase of forced isolation, how are you articulating your response in a public discourse? What is your role in this larger conversation?

Slavs and Tatars – We’re late but avid fans of German Kulturprotestantismus which even before the CV crisis, saw only 1% of population go to restaurants more than once a week etc. This pandemic, like many other natural disasters, is a correction.

JB – Has your artistic practice changed through isolation?

SaT – Too early to tell. And ultimately not for us to determine!

JB – How has your practical capacity to produce work been affected by the pandemic?

SaT – We’re working, like our partners, on a more reduced pace.

JB – What is your approach to collaboration at the moment?

SaT – As a collective, without collaboration we do not exist. From day one.

JB – Do you see the potential for renewed support for cultural production in spite of macro and micro economies which are currently rapidly restructuring?

SaT – We’re very lucky to live in a country which values culture immensely already. We’ll do our best to preserve this.

JB – E.M Cioran writes: “in major perplexities, try to live as history were done with and to react like a monster riddled by serenity”, how do you respond to this proposal?

SaT – Sounds about right if a bit too self-conscious.

JB – How is this time influencing your perception of alterity in general?

SaT – It’s only reinforcing our solidarity with one of our most entertaining and educated publics: the elderly.

JB – How is your utilization of technology and virtuality evolving the paradigm within which you produce work?

SaT – Not so far.

JB – What is your position on the relationship between catastrophe and solidarity?

SaT – Solidarity is a discipline, best practiced on a daily basis.

 

Josseline Black-Barnett is a contemporary curator, writer, and researcher. She holds an M.A. in time-based media from the Kunst Universität Linz and a B.A. in Anthropology (specialization Cotsen Institute of Archaeology) from the University of California Los Angeles. She operated for five years as in-house curator of the international artistic residency program at the Atelierhaus Salzamt (Austria) wherein she had the privilege of working closely with a number of brilliant artists. Included in her duties within the institution she allocated and directed the Salzamt hosting of the E.U. CreArt mobility for artists program. As a writer, she has reviewed exhibitions and co-edited texts for Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Portugal, Madre Museum Naples, the Museums Quartier Vienna, MUMOK, Guimarães Gallery, Gallery Michaela Stock. She is regular theoretical contributor to the Contemporary Art Magazine Droste Effect. In addition, she has published with Interartive Malta, OnMaps Tirana, Albania, and L.A.C.E (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). In tandem to her curatorial practice and writing, she has for the past decade used choreography as a research tool inquiring into the ontology of the performing body with a focus on embodied cartographies of public memory and space. She has held research residencies at the East Ugandan Arts Trust, the Centrum Kultury w Lublinie, the University of Arts Tirana Albania, and the Upper Austrian Architectural Forum. It is her privilege to continue developing her approach to curatorship which derives from an anthropological reading of art production and an ethnological dialectic in working with cultural content generated by art makers. Currently, she is developing the methodology which supports the foundation of a performance-based trans-disciplinary platform for a spectral critique on art production.

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