Mirrors for Princes News

Mirrors for Princes

28 September 2015

In October, the IMA will be presenting a major solo exhibition by the art collective Slavs and Tatars: Mirrors for Princes. The show is accompanied by a book also titled Mirrors for Princes edited by Anthony Downey of Ibraaz, commissioned by NYUAD Art Gallery and published by JRP|Ringier.


This publication brings together the writing of preeminent scholars and commentators using the genre of medieval advice literature as a starting point to discuss fate and fortune versus governance, advice for female nobility, and an Indian television drama as a form of translation of statecraft. This form of political writing often called “advice literature,” shared by Christian and Muslim cultures alike, “mirrors for princes” attempted to elevate statecraft (“dawla”) to the same level as faith/religion (“din”) during the Middle Ages. These guides for future rulers—Machiavelli’s The Prince being a widely known example—addressed the delicate balance between seclusion and society, spirit and state, echoes of which we continue to find in the US, Europe, and the Middle East several centuries later. Today we suffer from the very opposite: there is no shortage of political commentary, but a notable lack of intelligent, eloquent discourse on the role of faith and the immaterial as a valuable agent in society or public life.


Slavs and Tatars: Mirrors for Princes opens on Saturday 24 October at 6pm.


Image: Slavs and Tatars, The Squares and Circurls of Justice (steel, cotton turbans, polyester hats, 170.5 x 655 x 20 cm, 2014). Courtesy of the artists and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

The Institute of Modern Art acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which the IMA now stands, the Jagera, Yuggera, Yugarapul, and Turrbal people. We offer our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first artists of this country. In the spirit of allyship, the IMA will continue to work with First Nations people to celebrate, support, and present their immense past, present, and future contribution to artistic practice and cultural expression.