Monthly Archive: February 2012

The Real and/as Representation: TV, Video, and Contemporary Art in Armenia

The article situates video art produced in Armenia in the late 1990s and early 2000s in the framework of larger social transformations from modern to post-modern society. It explores the ways in which the paradigm shift in media representations in Armenia affected art production and reception. By critically examining theories of video art as developed in the context of the Euro-American academia and their applicability to historically specific contexts, the article argues that the late 1990s brought about a rapid shift in the relationship between the real and representation in which media images were perceived as more real than “reality” … Read more

Disintegrating Progress: Bolshevism, National Modernism, and the Emergence of Contemporary Art Practices in Armenia

This article provides a genealogy of the emergence of contemporary art practices in Armenia, arguing that the very history of emersion of these practices can be seen as a complex process of disintegration of the Bolshevik political project, particularly its agenda to base art on a subtle dialectical reconciliation between the nation and the class. After this dialectic was brutally instrumentalized by Stalinist Socialist Realism, it was attacked by the National Modernists during Khrushchev’s Thaw. Later, in 1970s, from within the National Modernism itself, the first tendencies of contemporary art practices emerged. They began to challenge the conventional notions of … Read more

What was Contemporary Art?

This article contributes to a recent debate around the question “What Is Contemporary Art?” It brings into discussion certain key aspects of the activities of the Soros Centers for Contemporary Art (SCCA)—a network of contemporary art centers established by the Open Society Institute in Eastern Europe during the 1990s. The author draws upon distinctions between this new type of art institution and the Union of Artists (the organizations which represented the interests of artists under socialism), highlighting distinct artistic, aesthetic and economic characteristics of each institutional model.

De-Idealizing Democracy: On Thomas Hirschhorn’s Postsocialist Projects

“I want to give form to the end of the Idealization of Democracy,” claims one of Europe’s leading artists, Thomas Hirschhorn. The statement may seem surprising, given Hirschhorn’s status as a poster-boy for promoting democracy through art, yet the drive to de-idealize democracy has long been crucial to his practice. This article examines how de-idealization has emerged in such projects as Swiss Swiss Democracy and Chalet Lost History, as a critique of art theory’s promotion of Democracy during the “War on Terror,” and by remobilizing critiques of Democracy seen in earlier, late-communist practices. The coalescence of these two factors is … Read more

Introduction to Felipe Ehrenberg’s “In Search of a Model for Life”

“In Search of a Model for Life” traces a brief history of the autonomous, experimental art movement known as los Grupos (the Groups) in which the essay’s author, Felipe Ehrenberg, played a central role. Based mostly in Mexico City in the late 1970s, the Groups critiqued the predominant academicism as well as the burgeoning support for commercially viable experimental work in Mexico’s state-run art institutions. “In Search of a Model for Life” first appeared as one of three external appendices to the catalog for the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil’s 1985 retrospective of the Groups, De los Grupos los individuos … Read more

Screen Play: Chronoscope, 1951, 11pm

“Screen Play” is a collaged conversation that entangles complementary views on international politics during the Cold War, particularly in relation to Iran. The text is a direct transcription from the Longines Chronoscope television news program (1951–55), but the speakers’ words have been edited to bring them in dialogue with each other, emphasizing the program’s role in the manufacture of consent, as a sounding board for Cold War discourse, and as a precursor of today’s infotainment.