Slavs and Tartars: Mirrors for Princes is the title of an upcoming exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.
The display and accompanying book trace the contemporary obsession with self-help to a medieval political science, known as “mirrors for princes,” which was shared among Muslim and Christian lands, with Machiavelli’s work The Prince being the most famous example.
At NYUAD Art Gallery the artists look to these texts as a case study of the balance between faith and state, issues that continue to resonate today across the Middle East, North America and Europe.
In the exhibition, visitors traverse differing environments. The first is a five-channel audio installation in which a series of mirrored speakers arranged on traditional book stands play excerpts from an 11th-century, Turkic “mirror for prince” called Kutadgu Bilig (Wisdom of Royal Glory) in five languages (Arabic, Turkish, Uighur, Polish, German).
Next, a dark, psychedelic gallery holds a series of glowing sculptures that explore the text’s concern with grooming.
The exhibition will be on view February 28 through to May 30.