The project Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz (2011) by the artist collective Slavs and Tatars reveals the connection between Polish and Iranian heritage, more specifically that between the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Polish trade union movement Solidarność of the 1980s. Both events encapsulate major geopolitical narratives of the recent past: political Islam and communism. Slavs and Tatars exhibit ten fabric cloths, which in their entirety highlight the revolutionary expressiveness of handicrafts and folklore. Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz reevaluates craft objects and practices as carriers of history, political emancipation and ideology. The banners are a donation from art collector Christian Schwarm to the M HKA.
Slavs and Tatars is based in Berlin. The collective focuses on Eurasia, that is, the area ‘from the former Berlin Wall to the Great Wall of China’, and explores its history and tensions. In particular, Slavs and Tatars analyses the way the region’s identity was shaped by a clash between modernisation and tradition. Nineteenth-century imperialism and the Soviet period brought modernisation, while tradition remains fundamental in Islam, in local alternative beliefs, language politics and mythology. Through a combination of archival and evidentiary material, Slavs and Tatars exposes historical and cultural mindsets. The collective combines research with reinterpretations, associations, metaphysics, pop culture, geopolitics and humour.