— Expand on that...
— We presented Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi'ite Showbiz that looked at the unlikely shared heritage between Poland and Iran and in particular, the revolutionary potential of crafts and folklore behind the ideological impulses of two key modern moments, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and Poland's Solidarność in the 1980s. Later it expanded to the 79.89.09 series — a development we didn't quite expect at the moment to happen.
— You explore Eurasia, why is this region so important for your discourse?
— If we are to believe that somehow Islam and modernity are incompatible or that the east and west are in some sort of conflict — then it makes eminent sense to investigate — discursively, performatively and affectively — an area of the world where this has resolutely been proven not to be true. In terms of our practice: to understand contemporary Iran, we looked at Poland and Solidarność (Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi'ite Showbiz); to grasp the nature of political agency in the twenty-first century, we study Muharram and the 1300-year-old Shiite ritual of perpetual protest (Reverse Joy); to demystify Islam, we turned to Communism (Not Moscow Not Rome, Secession); and it is through mysticism that we addressed modernity (Beyonsense, MoMA). We are interested particularly in redeeming, preserving, sharing and revising certain areas of Eurasia's history because we feel it is of particular relevance to larger issues facing the West today: if, once again, we are to believe there is somehow a clash between the East and the West, or between Islam and the West, then it makes sense to look at perhaps the only area in the world where these have co-habited successfully.
— What is more important in your work: the process of reactivating cultural memory or a quest for alternative historical narratives?
— We've attempted to reactivate certain ideas, behaviours, affects and thought-processes associated with a given geographical region. To some degree, we see this work as a correction: recalibrating the balance, whether it involves acknowledging the progressive potential of faith in social revolutions, the sacred use of language, the collective acts of reading and storytelling, for example. Meanwhile, certain traditions and heritage are at risk of being dismissed in the region's efforts at modernization. Too often, across Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, modernization is equated with westernization, to disastrous effects, and ironically at the very moment Western narrative is in doubt and decline.
We believe in resuscitating history, and we use the word 'resuscitation' deliberately: putting one's lips onto the subject matter, onto history, onto language, and breathing in and out of it. So there's a sensual, seductive element to the revisitation, a corporal approach. There's also something disrespectful about this act of resuscitation: putting one's lips onto another's to revive him/her is different from placing one's lips on someone else's romantically, as in a kiss. It's just as important to disrespect your sources as it is to respect them.