Slavs and Tatars: Nasreddin, Stories of a Sufi Superhero
Celebrated storyteller Thomas McKean tells several stories to children from the tales of “Molla Nasreddin,” a wise Islamic folk character who often appears as an old man with a turban riding backwards on his donkey. The stories of the merry Nasreddin’s antics impart simple lessons on life with a sense of humor and wit.
Widely enjoyed throughout the world, these beloved ancient fables continue to be told, published, and illustrated in the Arab Middle East, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Russia, and China, as well as Canada, Australia, England, and the United States.
The stories told by McKean include “The Hungry Coat” and “Donkey Trouble,” among others. Children may be invited by McKean to participate in the storytelling, as he draws pictures and engages them to act out parts, guess the outcome, or improvise their own twists in the plot. Coloring sheets designed by Slavs and Tatars along with markers are also provided to the children to express their own creativity and imagination.
The event is organized as a public program coinciding with Forever & Today, Inc.’s current art commission, the exhibition Never Give Up The Fruit by Slavs and Tatars (October 6-November 18, 2012), curated by Ingrid Chu and Savannah Gorton and on view in the organization’s Chinatown/Lower East Side storefront space.
Slavs and Tatars' solo exhibitions include Künstlerhaus, Stuttgart (2013); Presentation House, Vancouver (2013); REDCAT, Los Angeles (2013); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Secession, Vienna (2012); Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (2011); and Netwerk Center for Contemporary Art, Aalst (2009); among others. Group exhibitions include 9th Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju (2012); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); New Museum, New York (2012, 2009); 10th Sharjah Bienniale, UAE (2011); Konsthall C, Stockholm (2011); Kunstverein München, Munich (2011); Salt Beyoğlu, Istanbul (2011); Tate Modern, London (2011); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2011); ARGOS centre for art and media, Brussels (2010); BAIBAKOV art projects, Moscow (2010); Frieze Art Fair Sculpture Park, London (2010); Goethe-Institut, New York (2009); Casco Projects, Utrecht (2008, 2006); NCCA, Moscow Biennale of Young Artists, Moscow (2008); Art Metropole, Toronto (2007); Colette, Paris (2007); Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2007); and Printed Matter, Inc., New York (2007); among others. Their work has been featured in publications including 032c, Art Asia Pacific, Artforum, ArtReview, Bidoun, Fillip, frieze, The Guardian, Kaleidoscope, Manifesta Journal, Metropolis M, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and The New York Times among others. Slavs and Tatars have published several books including Kidnapping Mountains (Book Works, 2009), Love Me, Love Me Not: Changed Names (onestar press, 2010), Not Moscow Not Mecca (Revolver/Secession, 2012), and Khhhhhhh (Mousse/Moravia Gallery, 2012), as well as their translation of the legendary Azeri satire Molla Nasreddin: the magazine that would've, could've, should've (JRP-Ringier, 2011). Their works are in collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York and Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE, among others.
Thomas McKean is an artist, writer, and storyteller living in New York City. His collages and drawings have been exhibited at the British International School, New York (2012); Augusta Savage Gallery, UMass, Amherst (2011); Kunsthalle Galapagos, Brooklyn (2011); Smack Mellon, Brooklyn (2011); William Turner Gallery, Atlanta (2010); LMAKprojects, New York (2009); and Denise Bibro Gallery, New York (2008); among others. McKean’s work has also been featured in publications including The Huffington Post and Gothamist. He has published ten books, including work for both adults and young readers. His most recent book, A Conversation with Ruth Pitter (2010), was published by HappenStance Press, Scotland. Previous books include Into the Candlelit Room (1999), voted one of that year's most popular books in an American Library Association poll of young readers, and Hooray for Grandma Jo! (1994), twice a children's book club selection, most recently in 2009. He has conducted storytelling performances in schools, libraries, and bookstores throughout the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, often inventing and illustrating stories as he tells them.
Slavs and Tatars:"Nasreddin: Stories of a Sufi Superhero" is organized by Ingrid Chu and Savannah Gorton.