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Paulo Bruscky & Robert Rehfeldt’s Mail Art Exchanges at Chert Gallery, Berlin Print E-mail
Exhibition Reviews
Written by Sara Blaylock (Berlin)   
Thursday, 26 March 2015 00:00

Paulo Bruscky, “Untitled (Ferrogravura),” ca. 1975-1991. Photo by David Horvitz. Image courtesy of Chert gallery, Berlin.Over sixteen years of a committed artistic collaboration organized and almost entirely mediated by the mail, Brazilian artist Paulo Bruscky (b. 1949) and East German artist Robert Rehfeldt (1931-1993) exchanged materially modest, if conceptually bold, artworks to overcome immense physical and political obstacles. Crossing 5,000 miles and two repressive Cold War-era regimes, their mail art often trucked in slogans and icons that were at once immediately identifiable and laden with artistic metaphor and ingenuity. Bruscky's Ferrogravura (iron engravings) —the brown burn of a hot iron on paper—are innovations in domestic printmaking that reveal the artist's humor, as well as a necessity for resourcefulness and creativity in a country governed by military rule. Rehfeldt responded to comparable conditions in East Germany, and maintained, like Bruscky, an earnest and idealistic confidence in art's capacity to speak and redefine universal languages. In his East Berlin atelier, he stamped out the slogans of his "contart" (contact + art), dropping in the mailbox a vision for socially engaged culture: "ARTISTS OF ALL COUNTRIES UNITE;" "MAKE A CREATIVE WORLD NOW;" "KUNST IM KONTAKT IST LEBEN MIT DER KUNST" (ART IN CONTACT / IT'S LIFE IN ART).

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To be Partisan, Unsettled, and Alert: Conversation with Geeta Kapur Print E-mail
Interviews
Written by Ameet Parameswaran and Rahul Dev (New Delhi)   
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 00:00

This interview, conducted as part of a book project on Marx in Malayalam, is strongly contextual. The southern state of Kerala has the distinction of being the site for the first elected Communist ministry in the world. This was in 1957. The subsequent dismissal of the Communists remains a stain on the otherwise progressive politics of then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Generations of political activists in Kerala have tested the full spectrum of radical politics including elected governments and extreme left-wing positions that call for direct (revolutionary) action. Kerala intellectuals and artists are familiar, if not steeped in Marxist thought; this is also true of Kerala's great peasant leaders and theoretical ideologues that have led the Party over decades.

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Cyberfest 2014 Print E-mail
Exhibition Reviews
Written by Natasha Kurchanova (New York)   
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 00:00

Sergey Komarov, Leta & Vladislav Dobrovolsky Computer programming and engineering:  Alexey Grachev.  “Kitchen.” Interactive sound installation, dimensions variable, 2014.  Image courtesy St. Petersburg Arts Project, Inc.One evening last December, an exhibition hall of the Art Center at Kunstquartier Bethanien, a handsome 19th-century building on Berlin's Mariannenplatz, was bustling. It was a usual opening night – with food, wine, crowds of people young and old getting together and talking about art. What could have caught a local by surprise was that most of the visitors spoke Russian. Cyberfest, a yearly festival of new media, which originated in St. Petersburg in 2007, was making its second appearance in Berlin, following its debut in the German capital the previous year. 

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A Way to Follow: Interview with Piotr Piotrowski Print E-mail
Interviews
Written by Richard Kosinsky, Jan Elantkowski, Barbara Dudás (Lublin)   
Thursday, 29 January 2015 00:00

Piotr Piotrowski is a professor in the Art History Department of Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, and a research fellow at the Graduate School for East and South-East European Studies at the universities of Munich and Regensburg. He is the author of several books, including: Meanings of Modernism (2009, 2011), In the Shadow of Yalta (2009), Art after Politics (2007), Critical Museum (2011), and Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe (2012). Between 2009 and 2010, he was the director of the National Museum in Warsaw, and in 2010 he was the recipient of the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory. This interview was occassioned by the recent international conference Piotrowski organized on global art history, East European Art Seen from Global Perspectives: Past and Present, that took place in Lublin, Poland, October 24-27, 2014.(For further information about the program of the conference, the lectures and the speakers, visit: http://www.konferencja.labirynt.com/en.)

Richard Kosinsky: When defining a specific geographic location do you think that this carries the danger of fragmentation and/or generalization?

Piotr Piotrowski: Usually, conferences present a specific view of a certain research area; this leads to fragmentation because they cannot deal with everything. It is really hard to write or to discuss this sort of synthesis.

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Interview with Moritz Pankok (Berlin) About Ceija Stojka and the Re-Evaluation of Roma Art Print E-mail
Interviews
Written by Written by Árpád Bak (Budapest)   
Monday, 01 December 2014 21:48

Moritz Pankok is a German scenographer, director, curator and fine artist living in Berlin. A great-nephew of expressionist artist Otto Pankok, who documented Sinti life in late Weimar-era Germany and was labelled a degenerate artist by the Nazis, he is interested in socially engaged art projects. Pankok is the art director of Galerie Kai Dikhas, a private gallery in Berlin dedicated to Roma contemporary art. He was curator of the recent exhibition of work by the Austrian-Romani painter Ceija Stojka, which ran until October 6 at Gallery8, Budapest, the nonprofit counterpart of Kai Dikhas.(We Were Ashamed, Gallery8, Budapest, Hungary, Aug 2-Oct 10, 2014.,Galerie Kai Dikhas and Gallery8 – Roma Contemporary Art Space are organizationally unrelated institutions, founded and operating independently from each other.) Stojka, who died last year, was a survivor of the concentration camps at Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Ravensbrück. The seventeen works in the exhibition We Were Ashamed represented both groups of works that make up her oeuvre: the "dark cycle," consisting mainly of ink drawings and also some oil paintings that address the traumatic memories of the concentration camps; while the oil paintings of the "bright" series look back on Stojka's prewar childhood in an itinerant horse-trader family.

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Interview with Katalin Cseh and Adam Czirak About the Second Public Sphere in the former Eastern Bloc Print E-mail
Interviews
Written by Andrea Bátorová (Bratislava)   
Thursday, 23 October 2014 00:00

The three-day conference Performing Arts in the Second Public Sphere (org. by Katalin Cseh and Adam Czirak, Free University Berlin, May 9 -11, 2014) focused on the second public sphere as a space belonging to unofficial, event-based activities in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc between the 1960s and '80s. The organizers' idea was to redefine the borderline between the official and the unofficial cultural realms by examining underrepresented artistic practices located in the often invisible niches of the state-socialist cultural apparatus. The topics addressed by conference participants ranged from subversive artistic practices and the role of gender in them to anti-politics, dissident life, the formation of networks as conduits for nonconformist activities, and the micro- and macro mechanisms of cultural agency in the official social state apparatuses.

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Mladen Miljanović: At the Edge, acb Gallery, Budapest Print E-mail
Exhibition Reviews
Written by Sándor Hornyik (Budapest)   
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 00:00

Mladen Miljanović, "At the Edge," performance at acb Gallery, Budapest (2014). Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Csaba Aknay.At the beginning of his career, Bosnian artist Mladen Miljanović prepared ironically toned, but rather serious, plans of attack (Artattack series, 2007) for occupying the great museums of the world. Actually, he painted military symbols on the maps of contemporary art museums and galleries representing how he could occupy their spaces. Of his targets, ironically, Budapest was the last "captured" city, as the artist showcased works in the exhibition spaces of New York, London and Venice before showing in the contemporary art institutions of neighboring Hungary. While an overview of the underlying cultural and geopolitical factors surrounding this would lead beyond the scope of this review, it is worth pointing out that the works of Miljanović, one of the stars of the 2013 Venice Biennale, once again enriched the "portfolio" of a private gallery rather than strengthening the profile of a state financed institution. Tijana Stepanovic, curator of the artist's recent solo exhibition at acb Gallery, Budapest, perhaps wished to reflect on this situation by titling the show At the Edge.

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Zsófia Bán and Hedvig Turai, eds., “Exposed Memories: Family Pictures in Private and Collective Memory” (Book Review) Print E-mail
Book Reviews
Written by Katherine Hill Reischl (Princeton)   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00

Roland Barthes's first reflections in Camera Lucida are propelled by the pleasure of viewing the photographic image. At the end of his survey of a wide photographic landscape, Barthes comes to realize his failing as an "imperfect mediator" whose investigation of photography led only to a clearer understanding of his own desire, and not "the nature (the eidos) of Photography" (Barthes, 60). Perhaps paradoxically, Barthes's turn to the "universal" in the latter half of Camera Lucida, to the ontology of the photograph, is founded on a more personal and intimate journey: the narrative exploration of the precious family photograph of his departed mother.

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ArticlesLuis Castañeda (Syracuse) on conflicting racial, archaeological and art historical interpretations of Olmec art produced in the United States in the early 1960s. Chelsea Foxwell (Chicago) reconsiders the uses of nihonga in contemporary Japanese art.

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