Babak Golkar and Gareth James on Slavs and Tatars

Please join guest curator, Babak Golkar for an intimate tour of the exhibition Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz and a discussion around the works of artist collective Slavs and Tatars. Following the tour, artist and educator Gareth James will provide some reflections on the exhibition after which the two will engage in a conversation about some of the ideas around the works.

About the exhibition:

Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz traces a shared genealogy between Iran and Poland. Beginning as an investigation into the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Solidarity movement of 1980; two key moments that bookend the stories of twenty-first century Islamic modernity and twentieth-century communism, respectively – the project draws on research that stretches from the seventeenth-century Sarmatism of the Polish nobility, to the recent Green movement in Iran. Channeling the folklore and artisanal crafts of both cultures, Slavs and Tatars examine the potential for these modes of production to embody, extend and build upon the ideological impulse of 1979 and 1989 respectively.

About the artists:

Slavs and Tatars is an artist collective devoted to exploring the cultures of Eurasia, which extends roughly from the former Berlin Wall to the Great Wall of China. Their artwork spans several media, disciplines, and a broad spectrum of cultural forms, focusing on an oft-forgotten sphere of influence between Slavs, Caucasians and Central Asians. Their internationally acclaimed projects have been exhibited at the 10th Sharjah, 8th Mercosul, 3rd Thessaloniki, and 9th Gwangju Biennials and Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Babak Golkar is a Vancouver-based artist and educator whose art practice is centered on seemingly contradictory forms, shapes and material. Engaging syncretic strategies, Golkar juxtaposes several disparate traditions, asserting an underlying common ground, allowing for an inclusive approach to multi-layered reading. These strategies are implemented by exploring the potential of how ideas and forms transform between diverse contexts and systems and how new forms — and by extension, new meanings — emerge from re-contextualization. The results of his research and associated practice are being actively exhibited in local, national and international venues.

Gareth James is an internationally exhibited artist, previously based in London and New York and now lives and practices in Vancouver where he is a Professor of Visual Art at the University of British Columbia. James’s work is constituted through his abiding interest in histories of iconoclasm in which the social divisions and inequities that mark and delimit artistic practice are registered most emphatically. In James’ practice as an artist and as a writer, conventional aesthetic discourse is lost and rediscovered in neighboring fields such as topology or psychoanalysis. His writing has been published in journals such as Artforum, Texte zur Kunst, Afterall, and Made in USA. James has lectured extensively at universities and museums, and held positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Columbia University and Bard College.