The following exchange, over email, between Dutch media theorist and Internet critic Geert Lovink and Aaron Moulton occurred on the occasion of the exhibition The Influencing Machine at Galeria Nicodim in Bucharest, which closed on April 20, 2019. The show, curated by Aaron Moulton, was an anthropological investigation into the macroview of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA), an unprecedented network of art centers that existed across twenty Eastern European capitals throughout the 1990s. A survey of historical and contemporary artwork that explored ideas of influence, revolution, colonialism, and cultural exorcism, the Bucharest exhibition included a large archive covering … Read more
WILDES WIEDERHOLEN. MATERIAL VON UNTEN ARCHIVE OF GDR OPPOSITION, HAUS 22 STASIZENTRALE AND DISTRICT BERLIN, NOVEMBER 4 – DECEMBER 16, 2018.
D’EST SCREENING, CHAPTER 6: RETOPIA, HAUS 22 STASIZENTRALE, BERLIN , DECEMBER 15, 2018
Attempts to establish contemporary archives must always contend with dominant history and ideology. Wild Recuperations. Material from Below, a six-week-long exhibition that took place at District Berlin and the Archive of the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) Opposition in late 2018 and continues today as an ongoing artistic research project, positions itself firmly against the ossification of objectified knowledge by introducing an artistic and affective approach to … Read more
Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965, curated by the late Okwui Enwezor alongside Katy Siegel and Ulrich Wilmes, was held at Haus der Kunst, Munich, only a little over two years ago (October 2016-March 2017). The exhibition and its accompanying catalog have already achieved canonical status among scholars interested in the increasingly interconnected networks of modern art internationally after World War II. Ambitious in scope, generous in outlook, and remarkable in its capacity for critical and self-reflexive dialog, Postwar exemplified many of the qualities that made Enwezor the most significant curatorial voice of the last quarter century.… Read more
Poetry & Performance: The Eastern European Perspective, Shedhalle, Zurich, August 16–October 28, 2018
The center of the spacious exhibition hall of Zurich’s Shedhalle was empty. Tomáš Glanc and Sabine Hänsgen, curators of the exhibition Poetry & Performance: The Eastern European Perspective,(Curated by Tomáš Glanc and Sabine Hänsgen, in corporation with Dubravka Djurić, Emese Kürti, Claus Löser, Pavel Novotný, Branka Stipančić, Darko Šimičić, Mara Traumane) purposefully arranged the exhibition’s artworks in a circular progression enclosing this empty center, and with the following sections: Writing-Reading-Performance; Audio Gestures; Interventions in Public Space; Body Poetry; Cinematographic Poetry; and Language Games. The device … Read more
When Letters Show Their Muscles: A Conversation with Sabine Hänsgen and Tomáš Glanc about the Traveling Exhibition Poetry & Performance, the Eastern European Perspective
Subversive humor often emerges from emergency situations. Those who cannot say what they are thinking invent secret languages, play with suggestion, parody what is permitted and mutilate it into mere sounds, or put up slogans in remote areas. In states where verbal expression is subject to strict control – i.e. censorship – poets and thinkers infiltrate the official discourse by imaginatively torpedoing it. In those countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain, poetry became an experimental field for criticism, as well as a retreat from ideology and language politics.
The traveling exhibition Poetry & Performance. The Eastern European Perspective presents a … Read more
This guest-edited issue of ARTMargins evaluates the relationship between art, artists, and international institutions in the postwar period. Concentrating on the emergence of new forms of internationalism in response to decolonization and the diplomatic impasses of the Cold War in the decades following World War II, the issue confronts the problem of the nation-state within the emerging scholarly field known as “global modernism.” We propose that the term global modernism, while a productive shorthand for scholarship that expands modernism’s geographies, may also be anachronistic and misleading. The word global itself began to gain currency only after the 1960s, … Read more
Years of Disarray 1908-1928. Avant-gardes in Central Europe, Olomouc Museum of Art, Olomouc (CZ), September 21, 2018–January 27, 2019
Among the proliferation of First World War related exhibitions of recent years, several have been devoted to the historical avant-garde, a label attached to numerous artistic movements that formed before and during the war. (This review was written as a part of the research project of the Petőfi Literary Museum–Kassák Museum under a grant from the National Office of Research, Development and Innovation, Project-No. NKFIH, K-120779, “The Avant-Garde Periodicals of Lajos Kassák from an Interdisciplinary Perspective (1915–1928).”) The travelling … Read more
Marina Gržinić, ed., Border Thinking: Disassembling Histories of Racialized Violence, Publication Series of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Vol. 21 (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2018), 308 pp.
Border Thinking originated in 2015 as part of Post-Conceptual Art Practices, a studio art practice led by Marina Gržinić, Professor and Head of the Conceptual Art study programat the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, as an attempt to tell the story of the refugee protest camp in Vienna, which formed in 2012 and lasted for several years. At that time, the Austrian government suppressed the protests, creating an urgency to not only write … Read more
Edi Hila: Painter of Transformation, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, March 2-May 6, 2018
Since its foundation in 2005, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw has been engaged in an intellectually challenging attempt to reevaluate the artistic practice of several artists from post-war Eastern Europe whose works have so far mostly escaped under the radar of major Western art institutions. Shows by such artists as Andrzej Wróblewski, Ion Grigorescu, Alina Szapocznikow, Július Koller, Mária Bartuszová, among others, strived to move beyond the usual Cold War-era binaries of East and West, communism and capitalism, in order to show a more … Read more
“20/20” is a list of some of the most accessed articles, reviews, and interviews ARTMargins Online has published over these 20 years. Apart from giving readers and researchers a sense of what was most in demand, we also aimed at a cross section of the many writers, curators, and artists from a variety of countries and regions we have been fortunate to publish over the years. Among the brightest and most influential of these—Svetlana Boym and Piotr Piotrowski—are sadly no longer with us, and we repost their texts as a tribute to their legacy and lasting impact. These 20 texts … Read more
Katalin Cseh-Varga and Adam Czirak, Performance Art in the Second Public Sphere: Event-Based Art in Late Socialist Europe (New York: Routledge, 2018), 264 pp.
The compilation of sixteen case studies of performance art in Performance Art in the Second Public Sphere: Event-Based Art in Late Socialist Europe presents a panorama of performative strategies in the context of East, Central, and Southeast Europe. This “site-specific” approach reveals the diverse conditions under which performance art was produced in the region. The editors, Katalin Cseh-Varga and Adam Czirak, avoid suggesting a comparative terminology for East and West; instead of defining their collective volume … Read more
With the many symposia and exhibitions commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of 1968 now behind us, this first issue of 2019 asks how to historicize the art of the moment after. The articles in the current issue displace events that often serve as historical markers, asking instead how to interpret the artistic production of gradual and contradictory processes of economic modernization and political institutionalization. In so doing, they question how to reconstruct artistic tendencies and institutional norms without confirming the inevitability of the present, searching for utopian images, or trying to redeem social experiments that capital has long since assumed as … Read more
A silent video of Vladimir Lenin speaking enthusiastically to Russian crowds greets the visitors of the Jewish Museum’s second floor. We hear no words, but Lenin appears victorious; the footage, we assume, must have been filmed after April 1917, when the exiled leader had just been clandestinely brought back from Switzerland onboard a German train. In the following months, Lenin would successfully lead a revolution that overthrew the tsarist regime and ventured to turn Russia into a communist state. And while it only took a few years for this sense of communist idealism to be swiftly replaced by an authoritarian … Read more
Larisa Crunțeanu, Aria Mineralia Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw, October 20 – December 2, 2018.
For her exhibition Aria Mineralia at Zachęta Project Room, Larisa Crunțeanu, a Romanian-born, Warsaw-based artist and curator, has created a sound-based installation along with accompanying ceramics, neon, costumes, and video works that all address notions of camouflaging as an activity of playful subversion.(Aria Mineralia at Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw, is part of the cultural project F vs F, produced by Copia Originala Association and co-funded by the National Cultural Administration Fund, Romania. Partner of the exhibition: Anca Poterasu Gallery.) The title Aria Mineralia refers … Read more
Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980, Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 15, 2018 –January, 13 2019
New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) recently provided a stage for a vital – and very much on-trend – examination of the brutalist, socialist architecture of the former Yugoslavia, exhibited under the title Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980. Structured around a set of thematic and biographical sequences, this momentous survey of socialist architecture brought together more than 400 drawings, models, photographs and video installations from a wide range of private and institutional archives across the former … Read more
Yevgeniy Fiks, Heaven and Earth: Yiddish Cosmos, Stanton Street Shul, New York, November 18–December 16, 2018.
The Soviet Space Age visual project conjures familiar images of charismatic and triumphant cosmonauts, rockets, courageous animals, and dazzling, mysterious planets, all under the banner of the Red Star. During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and its eternal rival, the United States, mounted sophisticated political projects using the visual arts to promote their own version of a utopian, innovative future and even laid claims to conquering and colonizing outerspace. Today, these efforts have been by and large historicized and the propaganda machine … Read more
Hunter College Art Galleries, June 21–August 19, 2018
In 1970, the influential Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz created a series of minimalist collages. Superimposing select magazine cutouts—including pornographic images of women, male physique models, and animals—over a piece of grid paper, Almaraz disrupted the structure of the ordered field while using the grid to visually connect disparate images across the picture plane. Exhibited as part of Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. at the Hunter College Art Galleries in New York, Almaraz’s gridded collages convey some of the show’s most vital concepts: they defy a narrative centered on a singular … Read more
Riots: Slow Cancellation of the Future, ifa-Galerie, Berlin, January 26 – April 2, 2018
In March 2018, with scorching temperatures of the Indian summer peaking, tens of thousands of farmers descended on Mumbai. Despite walking for six days, they waited to enter the city at midnight on their way to the state legislature building, so as not to disrupt traffic. It was an unusual scene: red flags with hammer and sickle, red caps and bloodied bare feet pressed a panorama of revolutionary icons into the empty nocturnal roads of one of the most densely populated urban sprawls in the world. … Read more
The following conversation with Tanja Ostojić—a Berlin-based performance and interdisciplinary artist, researcher, educator, and cultural activist—is part of a series devoted to (women) artists from the former Eastern Europe who live and work in the city. For other installments and an introduction, follow the links at the end of this interview.
Sven Spieker: Under what circumstances did you come to Berlin?
Tanja Ostojić: I moved to Germany in Spring 2002 from Belgrade, somehow by chance. At the time I was pursuing my project Looking for a Husband with EU Passport. I had married someone in Düsseldorf in West Germany. … Read more
This conversation is part of a series of interviews with women artists from the former Eastern Europe who live and work in Berlin. The city has attracted artists from Russia and Eastern Europe for a long time: especially during the cold war and into the 1990s, its peculiar political and economic situation gave it a uniquely impermanent, transitory ambience that attracted migrating artists. Over the last two decades, neo-liberalism has more or less successfully transformed life here as elsewhere, aestheticizing and monetizing what was once a serious proposal for a different way to live and work. What is it like … Read more
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Emilia Terracciano, Art and Emergency: Modernism in Twentieth-Century India (London: I.B. Tauris, 2018), 281 pp.
Emilia Terracciano begins her book, Art and Emergency, by invoking Walter Benjamin’s “angel of history,” that emblematic, though still extremely enigmatic, motif that lays bare the fiction of history as progress. Where we perceive the past as “a chain of events,” wrote Benjamin famously, the angel, which he derived from a watercolor by Paul Klee, “sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet.”(Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Hannah Arendt … Read more
ARTTERROR—Fragments of Duality, Belgrade Cultural Centre, April 5–May 3, 2018
The exhibition ARTTERROR – Fragments of Duality, on view at the gallery space Podroom of the Belgrade Cultural Centre, presented work by the Belgrade-based art association ARTTERROR created during the last few decades. However, as curator Vladimir Bjeličić and the artists themselves stated, the aim was not to show a retrospective of ARTTERROR’s work. Instead, Bjeličić noted that the exhibition should be “regarded as a specific installation or in situ reaction based on the critical self-reflection of this artist duo.”(See the leaflet accompanying the exhibition: Vladimir Bjeličić, ARTTERROR – … Read more
Neoliberalism in Mexican Cultural Theory: Reading Irmgard Emmelhainz and Sayak Valencia (ARTMargins Print 7.3)
Irmgard Emmelhainz. La tiranía del sentido común. Mexico City: Paradiso, 2016, 260 pp.
Sayak Valencia. Capitalismo Gore. Barcelona: Melusina, 2010, 238 pp. Translation: Sayak Valencia. Gore Capitalism. Trans. John Pluecker (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2018), 330 pp.
Cultural theory in Mexico is one of the most vibrant and innovative intellectual scenes in Latin America. This in itself is remarkable if one considers that Mexico remains a country where the borders of academic disciplines are tightly enforced, and where most public intellectuals are self-identified liberals who resist both the languages and the ideologies of left-leaning theory. Against the grain … Read more
ILONA NÉMETH, EASTERN SUGAR, KUNSTHALLE BRATISLAVA, APRIL 13 – JULY 15, 2018
Seen in the shape of its mountains and the growth patterns of its aging population, the conical sugarloaf is often used to describe forms in Slovakia’s physical and social landscape.(Stephen Joseph Palickar, Slovakian Culture in the Light of History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern (MN: Hampshire Press, 1954), p. 53; Roy E. H. Mellor, Eastern Europe: A Geography of the Comecon Countries (London, UK: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1975), p. 115.) As a “body” with “weight…we can neither see nor touch,” the sugarloaf is also the object that … Read more
Beral Madra is a Turkish art critic and curator. She was curator of the two first editions of the Istanbul Biennial (1987 and 1989), and has curated five of the Turkish pavilions at the Venice Biennale. Her curatorial career also includes several international group shows, among them: Orient Express (Berlin, 1994), Modernities and Memories: Recent Works from the Islamic World (Venice, 1998), Registering the Distance: Istanbul/Los Angeles (Santa Monica, 2003), Next Wave: Exhibition of 17 Women Artists from Turkey” (Berlin, 2009). Madra was co-curator, along with Răzvan Ion, of the 2018 edition of the Bucharest Biennale, titled Edit Your … Read more
Utopia in Ukraine? Members of Concrete Dates Collective Reflect on In Edenia, A City of the Future and the Role of Utopia in Artistic Work
The art exhibition In Edenia, a City of the Future (June 8–July 9, 2017), co-organized by artist Yevgeniy Fiks and curator Larissa Babij, was inspired by the novella of the same title by Yiddish author and publisher Kalman Zingman. The story, written in 1918, takes place in a utopian future version of the real eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which is serviced by “aerotrains” and fountains that keep the temperature at a comfortable level year round. In Zingman’s world, ethnic communities, including Jews and Ukrainians, live side-by-side in peace and harmony, and residents consider war a thing of the past. … Read more
Duane Linklater: From Our Hands, 80WSE Gallery, New York, December 8, 2016-February 18, 2017
Dismantling the walls of a gallery is already and always a political act, a metaphor for the literal deconstruction of white cube certainties. From Our Hands, the 2017 solo exhibition by Duane Linklater, an Omaskêko Cree artist from Northern Ontario, Canada, was performed partly in the spirit of institutional critique. The show had been made multiple by the inclusion of beadwork by his late grandmother, Ethel Linklater, and by an animated video by his then twelve-year-old son, Tobias Linklater.(Duane Linklater, Ethel Linklater, and Tobias Linklater, … Read more
Éva Forgács, Hungarian Art: Confrontation and Revival in the Modern Movement (Los Angeles, CA: Doppelhouse Press, 2016), 303 pp.
Hungarian art historian and modernist scholar Éva Forgács has been teaching at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, since 1994. A former curator at the Hungarian Museum of Decorative Arts and visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, she has also been active as a curator and art critic. She has published several books in her native Hungarian and in English, including The Bauhaus Idea and Bauhaus Politics (Central European University Press 1995; Jelenkor 2010), and … Read more
Izabel Galliera, Socially Engaged Art After Socialism: Art and Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe (London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2017), 304 pp.
Socially engaged art practices emerging in former communist Europe represent a very under-researched field of study, and Galliera’s Socially Engaged Art After Socialism is the first scholarly treatment of socially engaged art (SEA) projects in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).(On the other hand, socially engaged art and collaboration in art in the West has been the research interest of a number of art historians, art critics, and curators since the 1990s. Among them are: Suzanne … Read more