New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery (NYUAD Art Gallery) presents a major solo exhibition of the art collective Slavs and Tatars, titled Mirrors for Princes, on view February 28 through May 30, 2015. The exhibition is their most ambitious, immersive installation to date, with new work occupying the 7,000-square-foot exhibition space at NYUAD Art Gallery.
JRP|Ringier is publishing a book titled Mirrors for Princes, commissioned by NYUAD Art Gallery and edited by Anthony Downey of Ibraaz. This hybrid of scholarly research and original artworks explores the artists' current research topic: medieval guidebooks for rulers, shared among Christian and Muslim lands, with Machiavelli’s The Prince being the most famous example. In their cycle of Mirrors for Princes exhibitions, the artists look to this genre of advice literature as an urgent precedent; a case study of the balance between faith and state, between hospitality and critique, issues that continue to resonate today across the Middle East, North America, and Europe.
In the exhibition, visitors traverse three environments, each radically different from the next. First, a five-channel audio-sculpture installation excerpts an 11th-century, Turkic “mirror for prince” called Kutadgu Bilig (Wisdom of Royal Glory) in five languages (Turkish, Uighur, Polish, German, and Arabic). Next, a dark, psychedelic gallery reveals a series of glowing, fetishistic sculptures around the text’s concern with grooming. Finally, visitors discover a serene teahouse and reading room, where the books available are curated by the artists from the NYU Abu Dhabi library collection. In preparation for the exhibition, the collective participated in an artist residency on the new campus of NYU Abu Dhabi.
Maya Allison, Gallery Director and Chief Curator of NYUAD Art Gallery, explains, "Slavs and Tatars link witty, irreverent, creative practice to scholarly and field research, so naturally they are ideal for a University gallery audience, and its surrounding community. In alignment with NYUAD's curriculum, the artists explore the intersection of multiple histories, from Eastern Europe to Western China. Their projects resonate with the regional audience, and with the diverse community within NYUAD's student body and faculty.