Monthly Archive: February 2019

Photograph of a house with drawing of grass and a pasture with animals around it.

Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980

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

Images framed on a wall. First is of an astronaut.

Between Heaven and Earth: Himl un Erd (Yiddish Cosmos)

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

Editors Introduction to Volume 8, Issue 1

With the many symposia and exhibitions commemorating the fi ftieth anniversary of 1968 now behind us, this fi rst 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 confi rming the inevitability of the present, searching for utopian images, or trying to redeem social experiments that capital has long … Read more

Vlado Jakolić, Photograph from Izložba žena i muškaraca [Exhibition of Women and Men], June 26, 1969, Galerija Studentskog centra, Zagreb. Image courtesy of Arhiv za likovnke umjetnosti HAZU, Zagreb, Inv. no.: SC-46/F1.

“Made in Yugoslavia”: Struggles with Self-Management in the New Art Practice, 1965–71

In September 1978, Zagreb’s Gallery of Contemporary Art staged the first survey exhibition of conceptual and performance art in Yugoslavia: The New Art Practice, 1966–78. Forty years on, the phenomenon continues to attract a substantial amount of scholarly and curatorial attention, largely because of its globally-renowned affiliates, such as Marina Abramović, Sanja Iveković and Mladen Stilinović, among others. But academic work has been hesitant to address the deeper political, economic and institutional factors that underpinned the New Art’s emergence and secured its prolific development. This article proposes that the New Art both came out of, and responded to, a complex … Read more

Janis Paul ̧uks. Relay-Race, early 1950s. Oil on canvas, 97 x 187 cm. Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga. Image courtesy of the Latvian National Museum of Art.

Instructive, Dramatic, and Corrective Collectivity: Socialist Realism in the Mirror of Collegial Debates. A Case Study of Documents of the Artists’ Union of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, 1944–55

Based on the study of protocols of the Latvian Artists’ Union and the Organizational Committee of the Artists’ Union of the USSR, the article surveys three stages of the introduction of Socialist Realism in Latvia and different forms and functions of the enforced collegial collectivity facilitating this process. The article examines the transformation of artistic life in Latvia during the period of Stalinism, which not only meant stylistic transition towards Socialist Realism but also involved the imposition of a range of practices of collective supervision of artistic production and censorship, including collective debates, collective advice, collective learning and collective critique. … Read more

Titre de Travail, FRAC Grand Large–Hautsde-France, Dunkerque, 2018 (exhibition views, photos: Aurélien Mole).* *Image file titled FRAC

Labor Power Plant

In those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, labour power is tradable as a commodity and, as such, not a natural good or human capacity, but rather a socially mediated and constituted relation. The project “Labour Power Plant” operates on the fictitious assumption that the everyday, all-pervasive, seemingly natural and therefore invisible micro-politics present in society do in fact not exist. In other words, that society is by itself unable to provide for the human capital on which it depends. Instead, the production of abstract workers is outsourced into a dedicated “labour power plant” – an institution … Read more

Yugoslavia as World History: The Political Economy of Self-Managed Art

Branislav Jakovljević’s study on performance and self-management in Yugoslavia and Armin Medosch’s research on New Tendencies and post-Fordism share a number of analytical frameworks that the review argues partake in a broader shift towards political economy as a key framework for art historical inquiry. This shift elicits what could once again be called a world-historical perspective: both of these books anchor their narratives in post-war Yugoslavia but only in order to show that the telling of the story of Yugoslav art requires the telling of the story of the world, a story that is not simply an instance of global … Read more

Introduction to “Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993,” Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw

The introductory text presents “Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993,” a document translated into English from Polish and published here. The original document was first published in Czereja, a magazine created by the students of Kowalnia, a studio for diploma art students run by Grzegorz Kowalski in the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. “Common Space” compiles the students’ accounts of a performative group activity entitled Pierożek drewniany, zimnym mięsem nadziewany (translated as Wooden Dumpling, Filled with Cold Meat) from the 1992–93 academic year. The … Read more

Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993

The introductory text presents “Common Space and Individual Space: Comments on a Group Task from the First Half of 1993,” a document translated into English from Polish and published here. The original document was first published in Czereja, a magazine created by the students of Kowalnia, a studio for diploma art students run by Grzegorz Kowalski in the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. “Common Space” compiles the students’ accounts of a performative group activity entitled Pierożek drewniany, zimnym mięsem nadziewany (translated as Wooden Dumpling, Filled with Cold Meat) from the 1992–93 academic year. The … Read more

Postcards displayed on a pedestal.

Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.

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

Black viewfinder with photograph behind.

Riots: Slow Cancellation of the Future

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