Monthly Archive: April 2009

Edi Hila, “Paysages Transitionnels”, Galerie JGM, Paris, January 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009.

Edi Hila: Paysages Transitionnels, Galerie JGM, Paris. January 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Edi Hila has been known in the international art community as one of the most remarkable artists of his generation. Hila is known as a professor to numerous generations of young students at Tirana’s Academy of Fine Arts (among whom Anri Sala, Adrian Paci and Tirana’s infamous mayor-painter Edi Rama). He is admired for his gentle character and precise knowledge by those privileged enough to have known him personally or to have worked with him. And he … Read more

Happy End (“Rusalka” Roundtable, #1)

The “little mermaid,” the naïve heroine of Anna Melikyan’s The Mermaid, dies minutes before the film ends. She is struck by a car in Moscow, the brutal Russian capital that is so indifferent to the fate of its inhabitants. This sudden, hyper-realistic and, cynically natural death is even more tragic as the mermaid, Alisa, is just about to realize her dream of winning the love of her prince (Aleksandr/Sasha). At least for a moment, Alisa and the audience are both led to believe in the possibility of such a fairy tale ending.

Aleksandr, a typical representative of the Russian … Read more

Glamor Discourse (“Rusalka” Roundtable, #2)

Anna Melikjan’s Mermaid (Rusalka, 2007) is one of several recent Russian films dealing with the Cinderella story in the context of contemporary Russia. In Rusalka as well as in Pops (Popsa, directed by Elena Nikolaeva, 2005) or Gloss (Glianets, directed by Andrei Konchalovskii, 2007), the female protagonist comes to Moscow from the provinces in the hopes of changing her life for the better. In Rusalka, Melikyan puts together elements from various narrative models of female life-stories – the biography, the melodrama and the fairy tale. They complete each other, comment on, or contradict … Read more

A Modern Fairy Tale (“Rusalka” Roundtable, #3)

“I can make dreams come true,” says Alisa and by doing so makes one of the many claims in this movie which are supposed to make us believe that Anna Melikyan’s Mermaid is a modern fairy tale. The way in which the film is put together: the camera work, the editing and Alisa‘s retrospective voice-over  evoke a fairy-tale-like world in which Alisa’s character is able to interfere. Or so it seems. In this film the forces of nature align to grant wishes, magic love shows instant effects, and the future can be changed for the better at the last minute … Read more

Theodor Adorno, Fairy Tales, and “Rusalka” (“Rusalka” Roundtable, #4)

In “Wolf as Grandmother,” one of his reflections in Minima Moralia (1951), Theodor W. Adorno once disputed the claims of those who defend film as a “popular art” (Volkskunst) against the standards of autonomous works of art. According to Adorno, these critics erred in comparing film, its stereotypical character and its schematic distinction of good and evil, to the workings of the fairy-tale. Adorno refutes this argument within his framework of a Marxist critique of culture industry (Kulturindustrie), which he had laid out in his best known work The Dialectic of Enlightenment (Dialektik der AufklärungRead more

The Splendor and Misery of the Little Mermaid: Roundtable On Anna Melikyan’s “Rusalka” (Introduction)

Mermaid (Rusalka). Directed by Anna Melikyan. Central Partnership, 2007. 115 min/100 min (theatrical version in Russia), 35 MM.

As a result of a workshop held in Berlin in November 2008 we invited five critics and scholars to discuss Anna Melikyan’s film The Mermaid (Rusalka, 2007). The workshop was tied to an international research project at the Free University in Berlin. One of the underlying objectives of this project – entitled “Die nicht mehr neuen Menschen” or “The New Man No More” – was to historicize different concepts of the individual as they emerged in Russian film and … Read more

Yevgeniy Fiks: “Communist Party USA Commemorative Stamps” (Online Gallery)



ARTMargins is pleased to present a new work by New York City-based artist Yevgeniy Fiks: Communist Party USA Commemorative Stamps (2007-2008). In this project, Fiks produced US postal stamps featuring portraits of former leaders of the American CommunistParty, such as John Reed, William Z. Foster, Benjamin Davis. For seven months the artist then used these stamps on the envelopes in which he sent his monthly payments to companies such as CITI, Verizon, T-mobile, Time Warner Cable, and others. In this project, the procedure of paying monthly bills – a … Read more

Iren Stehli, Brigitte Weiss Galerie, Zurich, January 16, 2009 – March 7, 2009.


Iren Stehli, a Swiss native who was drawn to Prague by her interest in her mother’s heritage, first arrived there in 1974. At that time the city was in the midst of a difficult political period, the “normalization,” i.e., the return to the status before the Prague Spring. In Prague Stehli first studied Czech and decided to stay and study photography.  Once enrolled in the Academy of Film, Photography, and Television (FAMU), still a bastion of some freedom of creative – if not political – expression, Stehli’s … Read more

The Polish New Wave at Tate Modern (Film Review)

Polish New Wave, Kinoteka Film Festival 2009, Tate Modern, London, 3-5 April, 2009

As the title of this event implies, the Polish New Wave is by no means a straightforward pre-existing historical movement that can be precisely dated. In contrast to the FrenchNew Wave and the closer example – both geographically and politically – of the Czech New Wave, the Polish New Wave was never able to have a continuous, stable development but was rather evident in a number of individual cinematic projects occurring over an extended period of time, the contours, definition and limits of which are still … Read more

Boris Groys, “Art Power” (Book Review)


“The notion of art,” Boris Groys writes near the start of Art Power, “is today almost synonymous with the notion of the art market.”(Boris Groys, Art Power (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008), 4.) In less dexterous hands, this argument could swiftly slip into hollow polemic. But Groys continues with something surprising: “to perceive the critique of commodification as the main or even unique goal of contemporary art is just to reaffirm the total power of the art market – even if this reaffirmation takes a form of … Read more

“ARTMargins” Talks to Jaroslav Anděl, Artistic Director of DOX Center, Prague

Jaroslav And?l has produced numerous exhibitions and publications on modern and contemporary art both in the Czech Republic and abroad. He is the co-author of  Czech Modernism 1900-1945 (Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, Texas, U.S.A. 1990) and co-editor of Cinema All the Time: An Anthology of Czech Film Theory and Criticism, 1908-1939 (Czech National Film Archive: 2008). He was recently appointed artistic director of the newly opened DOX Center for Contemporary Art in Prague.


Erich Sargeant: You have been open a few months now, are you happy with how things are going, the initial reception to the gallery … Read more

The Magical Bug Trainer: a Whimsical Biography of Ladislas Starevich (Film Review)

The Bug Trainer (Vabzdži? dresuotojas), directed by Donatas Ulvydas, Linas Augutis, Marek Skrobecki, and Rasa Miskinyte. (Lithuania-Poland-Japan-The Netherlands – Finland, 2008).

The Bug Trainer is a biopic which tells the story of the legendary Polish-Lithuanian animation artist Ladislas Starevich (aka. W?adys?aw Starewicz, 1882-1965). Today Starevich is known only to film historians, but in the first decades of the twentieth century, his pioneering work in stop-motion animation enjoyed a wide international success. “How does he manage to couch beetles?” exclaimed the enraptured spectators of his early shows, unable to believe that the insect stars they saw on screen were … Read more

Barbora Klímová About Her Recent Manifesta Project

Barbora Klímová lives and works in Brno. She has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Klímová is also a holder of the Tranzit Award (2007), as well as the prestigious Jindrich Chalupecky Price awarded annually to Czech contemporary artists. For her Replaced-Brno-2006 project at the 2009 Manifesta, Klímová chose five performances by five artists that took place in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and ‘80s. The main selection prerequisite was that the performances were conducted (or could have been conducted) in a public space. Instead of composed, clearly identifiable performances, she concentrated on gestures or acts that bordered on normal Read more