Thursday, September 15, 2016

Afteur Pasteur by Slavs and Tartars

With subtle humor and a unique style, artist collective Slavs and Tartars negotiate cultural identity through the concept of ingestion in their multifaceted exhibition, Afteur Pasteur. Occupying two floors of the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, the cultural implications of ‘otherness’ is considered through army cots, multilingual wall sculptures, skewers of books, and a fermented milk bar.

The collective, self-identified "[devotees] to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China”, discuss the intricacies of Eurasian history with the keen aesthetic attention of a 1970’s bachelor pad. The exhibition succeeds where many gallery shows fail: it educates without being too lofty and captivates the senses without falling victim to sensationalism.

Exploring the concept of fermentation, fuchsia and mint fluorescent lighting set the sour tone of Afteur Pasteur. The lighting (and a free yoghurt drink) made me nauseated, but that felt  appropriate when viewing works that tackle on the dizzying historical narratives of Central Asia. Despite the cultural specificity and a possible upset stomach, the exhibition puts forth a timeless and universal question: who are we? You may leave Afteur Pasteur with more questions than answers, but perhaps that is the allure with identity-centric art.

1 comment:

  1. This critique gives a great overall idea of what existed in the gallery; I wonder if there is more here to "milk". The exhibition tackles troubling questions (cultural ignorance, nationalization, exoticization, misrepresentation) with sharp irony. The awesome thing about this show is it literally enters you! However, the end of the critique diminishes the power of these visceral effects with phrases "despite this" and "at least", instead of heightening the idea that cultural ignorance should make one nauseos. Your writing style has glimmers of ironic tone - are there more opportunities for bits of this sharp humor to come through?