Monthly Archive: September 2008

Behind the Obscurity of the Central-European Avant-Gardes (Book Review)

Timothy O. Benson (ed.), Central-European Avant-Gardes. Exchange and Transformation (1910-1930), (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002). Timothy O. Benson, Éva Forgács (eds.): Between Worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-Gardes (1910 – 1930), (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002).

The project of Timothy O. Benson and his team, entitled Central-European Avant-Gardes, is great in two aspects: it is enormous in its content and utopian in its nature. The multi-dimensional volume is divided into two books. The first one includes articles, manifestos, essays, program considerations, and textual sources about the subject. The second volume is structured as a catalog of an exhibition, divided according to … Read more

Lightening up the World: Documentary Mixes Soviet Propaganda, Reality Soap and Music TV.

Coal Dust (Ugol’naya Pyl’). Directed by Maria Miro (aka Maria Miroshnichenko). VGIK, Ostrov Studio, 2006. Video: 20 min, 35mm.

The twenty-minute documentary Coal Dust (Ugol’naya Pyl’) was shot by a young VGIK team in the Chelyabinsk area (located in the east of Ural Mountains) in 2005. After the shooting was completed in 2006, the director Maria Miro (Miroshnichenko) was honored at the “Window to Europe” festival in Vyborg in 2007 for the best debut. In the same year her film also won the Moscow student film festival “St. Anna” (“Svyataya Anna”) in the non fiction film … Read more

The Manifesta Decade (Book Review)

Barbara Vanderlinden and Elena Filipovic, (eds.): The Manifesta Decade: Debates on Contemporary Art Exhibitions and Biennials in Post-Wall Europe. MIT Press, 2006. 340 pp.

In every corner of the world, on a yearly, monthly, or by now almost weekly basis, new biennials are shooting up out of the ground like mushrooms. While the radius of their impact was at first limited to Europe and North America, the magnitude of global successor events should not be underestimated. In fact, it is precisely these events that simultaneously generate a local and international discursive climate. In the course of time it has … Read more

Flexibility Makes Our Existence Possible: The Contextual Art of Jan Świdziński

“Contextual Art as a pure sign, cleansed of stereotypes; a sign which is filled by the present reality.

“For the act of drinking a glass of water to become art, it has to be performed in the right place, at the right time, and in the right company.”
(Jan ?widzi?ski)

Jan ?widzi?ski – an artist initially associated with conceptualism – wrote down his theses about contextual art in 1974. At that time, Polish artists were increasingly visiting the West, participating in international exhibitions, projects, or symposiums. Some, like Roman Opa?ka, became spectacularly successful, firing up their compatriots’ imagination. Many renowned … Read more