Slavs and Tatars - La Bataille des fruits: Centre Pompidou-Metz, France
The Berlin collective Slavs and Tatars works on the historical and cultural contexts opened up by the overlapping of Asia and Europe, their geographical horizon extending from the East of the Berlin Wall to the Chinese Wall. The artists are inspired by the tradition of cultural hybridization so strong in this zone of exchanges over the centuries. The first animated film produced by the collective, The Contest of the Fruits takes as its starting point a satirical Uyghur poem from the 19th century, to immerse visitors in an investigation of language, politics, religion, humour, resilience and resistance in our contemporary world. It reveals the richness of Uyghur culture, that of a Turkic-speaking people with a Sunni Muslim majority living in the Uyghur autonomous region of Xinjiang in China, and who have been subjected to strong repression by the People's Republic of China since the 2000s.
This allegorical text presents thirteen fruits – from the mulberry to the pomegranate, the quince and the jujube – which engage in an ironic oratorical joust. They are the main characters of the film and are drawn from characters of the alphabet (Uyghur is today the only Turkish language that still officially uses Arabic script). The text is set to music in the form of a rap battle, and this original soundtrack is performed by Nash Tarr, a rapper from the Uyghur diaspora.
Presented in an installation at the Studio with a mixture of 3D and 2D techniques, the project invites the viewer to tame a complex world in which borders are bridges rather than lines of demarcation.
All installation image above: © Centre Pompidou-Metz / Photo Marc Domage / 2022