ARTMargins Online

Hungary Turns Its Back on Europe: Dismantling Culture, Education, Science and the Media Under Orbán

Hungary Turns Its Back on Europe: Dismantling Culture, Education, Science and the Media in Hungary 2010-2019 is the result of voluntary work by more than 30 Hungarian intellectuals, academics, researchers, and journalists. The booklet, which we here make available to a larger audience, is the first comprehensive report on what has happened in Hungary since 2010, when Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party won the elections (which they did again in 2014 and in 2018). The focus of the report is on the areas of culture, education, science, and the media. The project was coordinated by OHA (Network of Academics), … Read more

Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself at the New Museum

Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself, The New Musuem, New York, 21 January 2020-17 May 2020.

New York’s New Museum for Contemporary Art is hosting the first U.S. solo exhibition of the Latvian artist Daiga Grantina, with a single multi-piece sculptural installation entitled What Eats Around Itself. Grantina has exhibited internationally, especially in France, Germany, and Austria, and was recently the featured artist in the Latvian Pavilion of the 2019 Venice Biennale with her site-specific installation Saules Sun. Her New Museum installation, which includes both ground-based and suspended sculptural elements, occupies the gallery at the rear of … Read more

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Valdis Āboliņš. The Avant-garde, Mailart, the New Left, and Cultural Relations during the Cold War

Ieva Astahovska and Antra Priede-Krievkalne, eds., Valdis Āboliņš. The Avant-garde, Mailart, the New Left, and Cultural Relations during the Cold War (Riga: Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, 2019), 662 pp.

Few publications deal with Latvian artists in exile who settled in various Western countries after they (or their parents) fled the approaching Soviet army at the end of the Second World War.(For a useful introduction to this topic, see the catalogue: Dace Lamberga, ed., Latviešu māksla trimdā – Latvian Art in Exile (Riga: LNMM & Neputns, 2013).) Costly and time-consuming research abroad is often necessary to tell the … Read more

Calling the Dead in Budapest: Ágnes Eperjesi on Art, Women, Power and Violence

In 2018, on an October evening, the Hungarian National Gallery became the site of unusual activities: the artist Ágnes Eperjesi appeared in Cupola Hall of the building that was once the Royal Castle to ceremoniously cover the bronze cast of a naked girl. The life-sized sculpture, made of two unattached bronze shells by artist Gyula Pauer (1941–2012), represents seventeen-year-old Csilla Molnár (1969–1986) who won the country’s first postwar beauty pageant in 1985. One of the most publicized events of 1980s Hungary, attracting more than two thousand contestants, the pageant was broadcast on television for the viewing pleasure of millions and … Read more

Entitlements and Entanglements

Sarah Dornhof, Nanne Buurman, Birgit Hopfener, and Barbara Lutz( eds.), Situating Global Art: Topologies, Temporalities, Trajectories, (Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2018), 333 pages, b&w and color illustrations. 

Situating Global Art is a richly conceived contribution to contemporary global art studies with an extensive bibliography, useful summaries of the main issues and events, and case studies by curators, art historians, and artists. It developed out of an international conference by the same name organized in 2015 by the International Research Training Group, Interart Studies, at the Freie Universität, Berlin. The volume aims to continue the work of the conference by presenting … Read more

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Notes on Contemporary Art in Kosovo

Katharina Schendl, ed., Notes on Contemporary Art in Kosovo (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2018), 128pp.

Notes on Contemporary Art in Kosovo is a slim volume collecting eight short essays and two interviews focused on Kosovo’s art scene. Published as part of the tranzit.at (the Vienna-based branch of the transnational contemporary art network tranzit.org) Glossary series, the book’s stated goal is to provide the grounds for understanding how the contemporary art scene in Kosovo shaped itself beginning in the ‘90s decade. The texts included in the volume span the last twenty years,(In a few cases, it is unclear precisely when and Read more

Touching the Void: A Conversation Between Clarissa Thieme, Jan Verwoert and Mario Asef

This podcast was created on the occasion of Clarissa Thieme’s solo show Can’t you see them? at Errant Sound Berlin, November 2019.(In collaboration with Library Hamdija Kresevljakovic Video Arhiv, Sarajevo. Video 8 footage by Nedim Alikadic, Sarajevo, Grbavica, May 2, 1992. The exhibition was the second in a series of exhibitions presented under the title Visual Approach to Sound, which aims to reflect on sound from the perspective of visual art. For this series, visual artists are invited to present works that are based on the forms and methods of visual art, but which also include a central Read more

Installation view

Mattis Teutsch: Avant-Garde and Constructive Realism

Mattis Teutsch: Avant-Garde and Constructive Realism, Scena9, Bucharest, September 12, 2019 – October 25, 2019

János Mattis Teutsch, the Hungarian-German-Romanian painter from Brașov, was characterised in 1920 as “the first who has the audacity to present to the Romanian public works in an expressionist style.” (Sigmund Maur, Rampa newspaper, October 21, 1920.) Mattis Teutsch was associated with the likes of Kandinsky, Marc, and Klee both in actual exhibitions, and in discussions of his artistic and conceptual calibre. His legacy today, however, is something of a battlefield, and the explanation for this lies in the seemingly incongruent bodies of … Read more

Being Together Precedes Being: A Textbook for The Kids Want Communism

Joshua Simon, ed. Being Together Precedes Being: A Textbook for The Kids Want Communism (Archive Books, 2019), 392 pp.

Being Together Precedes Being: A Textbook for The Kids Want Communism is the culmination of a series of exhibitions, symposia, seminars, screenings, interviews, and publications co-organized by iLiana Kokianaki, Vladimir Vidmar, Oleksiy Radynski, Vit Havranek, Patrice Sharkey, Kuba Szreder, and Joshua Simon throughout 2016 and 2017 in response to the 99th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The year-long series of events – hosted by the Museums of Bat Yam (MoBY), Bat Yam, Israel; the Visual Culture Research Center, Kyiv; Free/Slow … Read more

Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011

Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011, MoMA PS1, November 3, 2019–March 3, 2020

Coinciding with the turn of a new decade, the trove of artistic responses to the West’s lengthy military presence in Iraq currently amassed at PS1’s warehouse-sized venue focuses a new lens on recent history. Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011 is overwhelming in scale yet rich in material, brimming with perspectives that peel back the layers of this protracted, two-part conflict from the not-so-distant past, which now threatens to resurface. Many of the voices represented in the exhibition hail from places other than Iraq: France, … Read more

Theory and Methods Workshop on Alternative Cultures in Zagreb/CfP

The workshop’s central goal is to use its results to build the theory and methods chapter of the upcoming volume Creative Dissent: Alternative Cultures during Socialism and Beyond, 1945-1991 (edited by K. Cseh-Varga / M. Klimke / B. Peksevgen / R. Werenskjold / M. Zubak).

This workshop will be centered around exploring what “alternative culture” means, and how we can critically reflect on the terminology within the context of state socialisms. The organizers of the workshop are interested in the origins, the translation, the adaptation, the production, the reproduction, and the distribution of this terminology, both as a historic and … Read more

Future Prospects for Art History in Central Europe, Call for Papers

Since 1989, art historians from countries such as Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary and Romania have benefitted from unprecedented intellectual freedom, yet their voice has often still to be heard on the wider global stage. Where they gain international attention, it is mostly as authorities on specifically ‘national’

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Installation view of Sammy Baloji’s exhibition Extractive Landscapes.

The Extractive Landscapes of Sammy Baloji

Sammy Baloji: Extractive Landscapes, Stadtgalerie Museumspavillon, Salzburg, July 25 – August 17, 2019 

A landscape that has been transformed by human intervention retells the story of the complex power play between different interests and concepts of reality. Such a landscape is never neutral, but rather constantly negotiated and explored, suggesting various interpretations and conclusions. Colonial expansion represented lands outside of the ‘civilized’ European framework as spaces in dire need of cultivation, civilization, and ultimately exploitation, their inhabitants included. Such attitudes continue to affect people in former colonies and beyond. Their material realities have permanently changed by the consequences of colonial … Read more

Are We Doomed to Suffer Discourse Over Revolution?

Steirischer Herbst 2019: The Grand Hotel Abyss, Graz, Austria, September 19 – October 13, 2019

This year’s iteration of Steirischer Herbst —the annual arts-and-theater festival held in Graz since 1968—took its title from György Lukács’s metaphor the “Grand Hotel Abyss.” Lukács, the Hungarian Marxist philosopher, aesthetician and literary critic, used the term pejoratively. The title in its original usage was aimed at the Frankfurt School’s inclination for theory over action during the interwar period. According to Lukács, the likes of Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Jürgen Habermas represented an intellectually decadent elite locked in a hotel only to be smashed … Read more

The Art of Contestation: Performance Art in Slovakia

Andrea Bátorová, The Art of Contestation: Performative Practices in the 1960s and 1970s in Slovakia (Bratislava: Comenius University, 2019), 219pp. 

The Art of Contestation: Performative Practices in the 1960s and 1970s in Slovakia is the long-awaited English-language monograph by Andrea Bátorová, the result of her extensive research and writing on performance art.(Bátorová’s PhD dissertation was published in German as Aktionskunst in der Slowakei in den 1960er Jahren : Aktionen von Alex Mlynkárčik (Berlin, Münster, Germany: LIT Verlag, 2009).) In it, she covers the work of key artists from Slovakia’s performance scene, during the heyday of its activity: … Read more

Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965-1981

Klara Kemp-Welch, Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965-1981 (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2019), 480PP.

Authoritative, yet written in a colloquial tone in keeping with the human connections it delves into, Klara Kemp-Welch’s long-awaited book Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965-1981 offers an insightful account of experimental art in Eastern Europe during the Cold War period. Its main intention is to “challenge the idea that experimental artists in the Soviet bloc operated in isolation,” by examining how people, objects, and ideas connected and circulated across the countries behind the Iron Curtain. The evidence gathered … Read more

Prisms of Silence Symposium in Riga, Call for Papers

In this symposium we seek to analyse and understand the prisms through which we could meaningfully reconsider significant silences. Our particular interest is in rethinking the silences about WWII, its aftermath and the Soviet era in order to explore how they could offer productive ways of understanding present social change. We wish to discuss silence as a layered and complex phenomenon in the context in which relationships between communities and individuals often escape easy descriptions and have instead produced scattered histories and memories that remain divided.

Recently, several concepts have been proposed by scholars, such as multidirectional memory and the … Read more

“Era ora!”: Cristina Baldacci and Marysia Lewandowska discuss Lewandowska’s It’s About Time

Art historian Cristina Baldacci and artist Marysia Lewandowska discuss It’s About Time (translated into Italian as ‘Era ora!’), her Special Project in the Pavilion of Applied Arts (curated by Ralph Rugoff) for the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Based on records of meetings held by the Mayor of Venice (Riccardo Selvatico) between 1893 and 1895, the project focuses on the absence of women from art history, taking the Biennale as a case in point.

As part of her project, Lewandowska invited a group of Italian women practitioners(L. Cavorsi, G. Damiani, V. Facchin, A. Ongaro, Read more

Red Discussion 2

Parole, Parole (As a Counter-Hegemonic Gesture): Red Discussion No. 2 (Pavilion of the Republic of North Macedonia; Maja Ćirić)

Parole, parole(The reference is to the famous Italian duet performed in 1972 by Mina and Alberto Lupo about appealing yet hollow, empty words.) (As a Counter-hegemonic Gesture): Red Discussion No. 2, part of Subversion to Red by Nada Prlja for The Pavilion of The Republic of North Macedonia

The number of professionals in the fields of the arts and humanities who are capable of critically reflecting upon the planetary condition appears to be small. Fewer still are those who express any critical, communal, or selfless interest in connecting the legacy of the arts and humanities to the … Read more

From the Eastern Bloc to the Bronx: Early Acquisitions from the Art Collection

From the Eastern Bloc to the Bronx: Early Acquisitions from the Art Collection, Derfner Judaica Museum and the Art Collection at the Hebrew Home, Riverdale, New York (May 5-August 25, 2019)

Writing in 2009, Polish scholar Piotr Piotrowski suggested that we recognize multiple, coexisting art historical canons. Focusing on the postwar period, Piotrowski sketched out a series of interweaving histories, at once looking at the broader picture while also considering the political heterogeneity of specific states within the Soviet-dominated region.(See Piotr Piotrowski, In the Shadow of Yalta: Art and Avant-Garde in Eastern Europe, 1945-1989 (London: Reaktion Books, 2009).Read more

Documentation of performance

The Glitzy World We All Think We Want: An Interview with Zornitsa Stoyanova

Zornitsa Stoyanova is a performance artist working between the United States and Bulgaria. Currently based in Philadelphia, Stoyanova performs under the name Here[begin] Dance, and her practice involves the creation of large-scale props in front of her audience. Her work explores an amalgamation of genres, blending choreography, performance, song, and shadow play. This summer, Stoyanova took part in Etud and Friends, a dance and performance festival held in Sofia and one of a growing number of multidisciplinary events that seeks to bring together local and transnational artists and performers working in a variety of disciplines.

While Bulgaria hosts multiple dance Read more

The Matter of Art Biennale Symposium Who are We Talking with? What Can Institutions (Un)learn from Artists?

Who are we talking with? What can institutions (un)learn from artists? Prague, 17-18 May 2019

In contemporary critical artistic and curatorial discourse,  the word “organization” is often accompanied by the word “future”. Through the practice of self-questioning and self-positioning, the institution of the biennale recently also became a vehicle for critical investigations focused on envisioning the future beyond a global administered society. Several interesting biennales were initiated in Central and Eastern Europe where, according to Vít Havránek, for a long time “we had believed that democracy and capitalism were two separate processes and that aesthetic differentiation was a mirror image … Read more

After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art at Wallach Art Gallery

After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York City, June 15 – October 6, 2019

Philosopher and Columbia University faculty member Souleymane Bachir Diagne’s 2013 book The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa situates the afterlife of socialism in sub-Saharan Africa after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 in terms of “a search for itself.” (Souleymane Bachir Diagne, The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa. Dakar : CODESRIA, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2016.)

Taking Diagne’s … Read more

Revolt She Said: Decolonial and Feminist Perspectives on 1968 at District Berlin

Revolt She Said: Decolonial and Feminist Perspectives on 1968, District Berlin and Alpha Nova & Galerie Futura, September 2018 – January 2019.

In European and especially German history, 1968 marks the beginning of far-reaching critical engagement on the part of students and established intellectuals with the rise and fall of fascism, and its continuities in postwar societies. The ensuing protests – carried out by students, sometimes in cooperation with trade unions, notably in France – aimed to shake up not only politics and state institutions, but also social mores and gender roles. On a global scale, 1968 stands for the … Read more

View of the exhibition

Karol Radziszewski: Queer Archives Institute at Berlin’s Gay Museum

Karol Radziszewski: Queer Archives Institute, Schwules Museum, Berlin, June 20 – September 23, 2019

From June 20 to September 23, 2019, Berlin’s Schwules Museum [Gay Museum] hosted an exhibition of queer archives from Eastern Europe collected and presented by Karol Radziszewski, Polish artist, activist, and founder of the Queer Archives Institute (QAI). The QAI is among the most extensive and most visible of a number of queer archives recently founded in Poland and in other Central and East European countries, where celebrating and memorializing non-heteronormative lives and cultural production remains a novelty, perhaps even a rarity. Historically, these countries differed … Read more

Conscious Inability: Gabriele Stötzer’s Archive at Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

Conscious Inability: The Archive of Gabriele Stötzer, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (GfZK Leipzig), March 3, 2019 – March 2020.

Conscious Inability: The Gabriele Stötzer Archive at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (GfZK Leipzig) takes a long deserved in-depth look at the work of Gabriele Stötzer (also Gabriele Kachold, *1954), one of the central representatives of feminist art in the late GDR. Conscious Inability: The Gabriele Stötzer Archive is a long-term research and exhibition project: over the course of one year, from March 2019 to March 2020, three exhibitions will highlight different aspects of Stötzer’s artistic practice and political … Read more

Eastern European Pavilions at this Year’s Venice Biennale: Parsing the Contemporary

ARTMargins Online asked writers and critics close to the journal to respond to several Eastern European national pavilions at this year’s Venice Biennale. Our interest was in parsing the way in which pavilion curators approached the problem of nationhood and representation in a region caught between the Socialist past and an uncertain present marked by nationalism and neo-liberal economic policies. This series of responses is supplemented by an interview with Berlin-based artist Maria Loboda.

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“I Follow the Work Into the Rabbit Hole.” An Interview with Maria Loboda

Maria Loboda is a Berlin-based visual artist who works interdisciplinarily, creating installations that combine objects, linguistic elements, plants, audio recordings, illustrations, drawings and photographs. She was invited to participate in the58th International Art Exhibition of Venice Biennale, curated by Ralph Rugoff, with three works created in 2017. In the Arsenale, Loboda’s shows the multimedia installation Lord of Abandoned Success (L’Argile Humide). In the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, two digital prints from the on-going series Zero DynastyZero Dynasty II and V are being shown, and in the Bookshop Pavilion Stirling, her work Young Warrior in the Read more

Roman Stańczak, Allegories of Flight (Polish Pavilion; Dorota Michalska)

Roman Stańczak’s installation Flight for the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale at once invites and defies final interpretations. The massive sculpture occupying the entire pavilion was created by violently splitting in half a private aircraft, and then sewing it back together inside out. What at first glance could be regarded as a direct reference to the Smoleńsk airplane catastrophe in 2010–dramatically polarizing Polish society, and eventually leading to the victory of the nationalistic, right-wing party Law and Justice—proves to encompass more complex meanings and references. In fact, the work can be perhaps best described as an allegory in the … Read more

Masters on Masters: When the Biennale Goes Meta (Russian Pavilion; Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli)

There is nothing unusual about famous gallerists curating national pavilions at the Venice Biennale, but it is another thing to have Mikhail Piotrovsky (the director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg) curate his country’s pavilion by inviting artists to engage with the history of the museum and its collection, thus turning the Biennale pavilion into a commentary on the Hermitage.  Piotrovsky has orchestrated a complex metacommentary on the relation of the national pavilion to Russia’s “national treasure” that houses the works of many of the world’s Renaissance and Baroque masters—French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Flemish.

The Russian Pavilion … Read more