Slavs and Tatars, 79.89.09


In collaboration with University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts CounterCurrent Festival

Kolya Zverkov

[Slav and Tatars] provokes interpretations as shifting and ambiguous as the transcontinental region it explores.” (Art in America)


The monobrow, modernity, citizen diplomacy, and the Beach Boys are just a few of the disparate issues at play in this lively investigation of the convergences of Poland and Iran’s economic, cultural, and political histories.

In collaboration with University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, this unique lecture-performance takes on the two major geopolitical narratives of the twentieth and twenty-first century — Communism and political Islam — through the lens of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and Poland’s Solidarnośc (Solidarity) movement in the 1980s.

The Iranian Revolution triggered revolutionary Islam — advancing a metaphysical agenda, the success of which can only be measured in the afterlife. Yet in establishing the "look" of its theocratic regime, Iran has borrowed much of its visual propaganda from the anti-religious Russian Revolution: giant murals of Khomeini akin to Stalin, martyrs idolized like Soviet laborers.

The Polish movement that helped bring down Soviet Communism started off as a trade union in the Gdańsk shipyard in 1980. Not spectacularly violent, the Solidarity movement advanced by demanding improvements in living conditions, working hours, food — practicalities that had broad support. In Iran, after the disputed elections of 2009, many leaders of the Iranian protests began studying Poland's Solidarity movement for inspiration on how to bring change without brutal upheaval.


Related Event

April 15: Slavs and Tatars, Molla Nasreddin: Embrace Your Antithesis


About Slavs and Tatars

Slavs and Tatars, founded in 2006, is an art collective whose work addresses the little-known affinities, syncretic ideas, belief systems, and language politics between the former Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China. Their work has been exhibited around the globe, from the Museum of Modern Art to the Istanbul Modern, the Vienna Secession to The Centre Pompidou.

About The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts is dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration across the performing, visual, and literary arts. Based at the University of Houston, the Mitchell Center commissions and produces new works, presents public performances and exhibitions, offers curriculum and scholarships, and hosts residencies with renowned visiting artists from throughout the world. The Center is home to the Mitchell Artist Lecture, an annual event featuring a pioneer in contemporary art-making, as well as CounterCurrent, an annual spring festival of new performance.


Bank of America is the presenting sponsor of performing arts and cultural programs, with generous support from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, the Hearst Foundations, and Mickey Rosenau & Dr. Ellen Gritz. Lead support is provided by the Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, The Clayton Fund, the Favrot Fund, and the Wortham Foundation. Support is also provided by Friends of Performing Arts & Culture, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the best in public programming to Houston. This program is presented in collaboration with The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.

Asia Society Presenting Sponsor

Bank of America

Asia Society Program Sponsors

City of HoustonHouston Arts Alliance

Presenting Partners


Event Details

Wed 13 Apr 2016
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
1370 Southmore Blvd. Houston, TX 77004 713.496.9901
Free with RSVP.
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