Alphabets have always marched with their respective empires and were indispensable weapons used for their rise to power – such as the Latin alphabet for the Romans or the Cyrillic alphabet for the Russian Communists. For Lenin the secret lay in transliteration (transcription from one alphabet to another). He believed that the revolution in the East would begin with Latinization of the alphabets of all the Muslim communities living in the USSR. By preventing Muslims in the Soviet Union from using their own writing system, he believed that they would abandon part of their Islamic past. But is the opposite also possible?
The potential of transliteration as a strategy of resistance is the starting point for the lecture-performance, Transliterative Tease by the artistic collective, Slavs and Tatars. Focusing on the Turkic languages of the former Soviet Union, as well as the eastern and western frontiers of the Turkic sphere – Anatolia to the west, and Xinjiang/Uighuristan to the east – concepts such as identity politics, colonialism and faith will be analysed. Moderated by contemporary art philosopher and curator, Eduarda Neves, Transliterative Tease doesn’t attempt to emancipate peoples or nations but rather to launch provocations through analysis of the phonetic, semantic and theological changes resulting from the sounds rolling off our tongues.