Article Number: 1333
Magazine, English, Staple Binding, 2009, Slavs&Tatars
Abu`l Qasim, Istakhri

Drafting Defeat

10th century road maps & 21st century desasters

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Drafting Defeat republishes a collection of Al Istakhri’s highly stylized 10th century maps of the Middle East, printed with the legends that accompanied them in a 1933 Soviet edition of Persian bureaucrat Nasser Khosrow’s Safarnameh (Book of Travels).

These unearthed documents explore a different kind of heritage, this time in keeping with an indulgent archivalism. Akademia, the book’s original publisher, was known for its unexpected titles and limited runs; including these maps, technically unrelated to Khosrow’s travels, was an aesthetic caprice, an unorthodox approach in the otherwise austere Soviet publishing landscape.
It’s a rare piece of evidence that S&T’s weakness for mercilessness bureaucracy can extend to the bureaucrats themselves, one evinced by Drafting Defeat’s fold-out cover illustration portraying a Russian folktale, a clin d’oeil to Akademia’s penchant for aesthetic flourish.

Slavs and Tatars is a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. The collective’s work spans several media, disciplines, and a broad spectrum of cultural registers (high and low) focusing on an oft-forgotten sphere of influence between Slavs, Caucasians and Central Asians. Their work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.