Bagri Foundation Commission at Hayward Gallery

Slavs and Tatars Samovar 2021 © Slavs and Tatars. Installation view at Hayward Gallery. Photo: Rob Harris

Summer 2021 – Summer 2023

Bagri Foundation and Hayward Gallery have partnered to present a series of new outdoor art commissions at the Southbank Centre. Aimed at providing artists from or inspired by Asia and its diaspora with the opportunity to create a prominent public commission, this initiative adds to the programme of outdoor art installations and exhibitions across the Southbank Centre’s iconic site. From its iconic Waterloo Billboard to its Riverside Walk, the buildings and outdoor spaces across the Southbank Centre have long been home to a diverse range of artistic works. The Hayward Gallery’s Bagri Foundation commission is the latest addition to a growing programme of temporary installations throughout the winter and summer months.

Read the partnership announcement full press release here.

About the Hayward Gallery
The Hayward Gallery, part of the Southbank Centre, has a long history of presenting work by the world’s most adventurous and innovative artists including major solo shows by both emerging and established artists and dynamic group exhibitions. They include those by Bridget Riley, Martin Creed, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jeremy Deller, Anish Kapoor, René Magritte, Francis Bacon and David Shrigley, as well as influential group exhibitions such as Africa Remix, Light Show, Psycho Buildings and Space Shifters. Opened by Her Majesty, The Queen in July 1968, the gallery is one of the few remaining buildings of its style. The Brutalist building was designed by a group of young architects, including Dennis Crompton, Warren Chalk and Ron Herron and is named after Sir Isaac Hayward, a former leader of the London County Council.

Samovar | 13 August – 5 December 2021

The first commission launches in August 2021 with a large-scale installation by collective Slavs and Tatars titled Samovar (2021). With a focus devoted to an area East of the former Berlin Wall and West of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia, Slavs and Tatars’ practice questions understandings of language, ritual and identity through a blend of pop aesthetics, cultural traditions and overlooked histories. For their Bagri Foundation commission, the collective are creating a striking artwork that addresses a set of cultural histories intertwining Europe and Asia.

Taking the form of an oversized inflatable water boiler, teapot and serving tray lodged into the side of the Hayward Gallery, the sculpture is titled after the eponymous tea brewer commonly found across Central Asia. A Russian invention of the mid-18th century, samovars are used today across Eastern Europe, the Middle East and some parts of Asia, in both domestic and communal settings.

Although humorously enlarged like a mascot or parade float, Slavs and Tatars’ installation uses the samovar as an emblem to recount the ways in which the history of tea is intertwined with cross-cultural exchange and colonialism. By creating a monumental symbol of a celebrated and long-established tea culture, the artwork questions the role of tea in British history, tradition and popular culture.

Read Slavs and Tatars’s commission press release here.

About Slavs and Tatars
Slavs and Tatars is an internationally renowned art collective devoted to an area East of the former Berlin Wall and West of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. Since its inception in 2006, the collective has combined popular culture, spiritual and esoteric traditions, oral histories, modern myths and scholarly research to explore polemical issues in society and clear new paths for contemporary discourse. Imbued with humour and a generosity of spirit, the collective’s practice, which spans installations, sculptures, lectures, and printed matter, questions one-dimensional ways of seeing relationships between science, religion, power and identity. Their work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Salt, Istanbul; Vienna Secession, Kunsthalle Zurich and Albertinum, Dresden, among others. Slavs and Tatars has published more than ten books to date, including Wripped Scripped on language politics; as well as a translation of the legendary Azerbaijani satirical periodical Molla Nasreddin. In addition to launching a residency and mentorship program for young professionals from their region, Slavs and Tatars recently opened Pickle Bar, a slavic aperitivo bar-cum-project space a few doors down from their studio in Moabit, Berlin.