Monthly Archive: May 2002

In Memoriam Timur Novikov

In memoriam Timur Novikov

On Thursday, May 23rd, 2002, Timur Novikov died at the age of 44 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was an artist, writer, theoretician, teacher, and the catalyst of the St. Petersburg artscene for almost two decades.

Since 1977, Novikov was part of the former inofficial Soviet art scene. He was a member of the inofficial group “Letopis” (Chronicle). In the early 1980s, Novikov founded the New-Artists-Group, which was one of the first federations of artists based on aestehtic criteria and whose goal was the integration of art and life. In 1986, he co-founded the “Friends-of-MajakovskyRead more

At the Center of Mitteleuropa, A Conversation with Peter Forgács

Peter Forgács has a long-standing reputation as Hungary’s most innovative documentary film-maker. His latest film, A dunai exodus (The Danube Exodus, 1998), was a highlight of the 30th Hungarian Film Week and shared the Grand Jury prize for best documentary. Using amateur film taken by a ship’s captain, Forgács relates two stories which took place during the war: the exodus of Central European Jews to Palestine and the exodus of ethnic Germans from Bessarabia to “the fatherland.”

Sven Spieker: The first question I’d like to ask you has to do with the notion of “Mitteleuropa.” The question is … Read more

Oskar Hansen and the Auschwitz “Countermemorial,” 1958-59

The following essay is part of a series devoted to contemporary art and architecture East-Central Europe. It was first delivered as a paper at a conference held at MIT in October, 2001.

Even before we attempt to consider it, there is a relatively fixed mental map of post-1945 European visual culture already impressed upon our minds and ready to use.(The paper was made possible through a Henry Moore Research Scholarship at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and at the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green in 1998. It would not have been completed without the help I

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“WAR”, Dir. by Alexei Balabanov (Russia, 2002)


The politically correct European has for a long time already considered Alexei Balabanov an out-and-out nationalist. The liberal public opinion in Russia is in agreement with this definition.

Both here and there the director of the film “War” is reproached with presenting only the Russian point of view on the conflict in Chechnya in the film. In the meantime, both there and here, the genre of the film is ignored for some reason.

Alexey Balabanov made “War” as a classical Western. The young Caucasian captive returns to Chechnya to rescue the bride (Ingeborga Dapkunaite) of the British fellow sufferer (Ian … Read more


Polish cinema had to face a shift in the early nineties. Its goal was no longer to fight the system and express the doubts and fears of an individual living in totalitarian society. The “code” used in many popular and artistic Polish films made in the eighties and earlier had become useless.

Films such as “Seksmisja” by Juliusz Machulski (Sex Mission, 1984) or “Rejs” by Marek Piwowski (The Boat Trip, 1970) listed among Polish cult favourites, could no longer satisfy the needs of the nineties’ audience. Some directors noticed the need for change. Film – both in its popular and

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In Opposition to the State: The Soviet Neoavant-garde and East German Aestheticism in the 1980s

The following essay is part of a series devoted to contemporary art and architecture East-Central Europe. It was first delivered as a paper at a conference held at MIT in October, 2001.

The integral reading of socialist architecture in the late 20th century presents the evolution of Soviet and East German architecture as a unique model of a governed collaboration. Both the Soviet Union, “the elder brother,” and the GDR, its “little sister” in the family of socialist countries, unfolded a general course toward the total industrialization and the mass production of standard housing for the people. The processes that

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Does Contemporary Art Need Museums Anymore?

The 1990s showed an increasing proliferation—indeed a boom—of museums. World architects competed for a dreamy amount of money, capital that was reserved by city councils, state associations, and funds in Western Europe and America for the third millennium deal-of-a-lifetime in culture, from Texas to Boston, from Helsinki to Berlin, to build new museums for art and to renovate old ones.

In the heart of the city of Berlin, in the so-called Berlin inner city island, five museums will be rebuilt in the year 2000 and beyond; the cost of the project is estimated at one billion euros.

According to various … Read more