This podcast was created on the occasion of Clarissa Thieme’s solo show Can’t you see them? at Errant Sound Berlin, November 2019.(In collaboration with Library Hamdija Kresevljakovic Video Arhiv, Sarajevo. Video 8 footage by Nedim Alikadic, Sarajevo, Grbavica, May 2, 1992. The exhibition was the second in a series of exhibitions presented under the title Visual Approach to Sound, which aims to reflect on sound from the perspective of visual art. For this series, visual artists are invited to present works that are based on the forms and methods of visual art, but which also include a central … Read more
Mattis Teutsch: Avant-Garde and Constructive Realism, Scena9, Bucharest, September 12, 2019 – October 25, 2019
János Mattis Teutsch, the Hungarian-German-Romanian painter from Brașov, was characterised in 1920 as “the first who has the audacity to present to the Romanian public works in an expressionist style.” (Sigmund Maur, Rampa newspaper, October 21, 1920.) Mattis Teutsch was associated with the likes of Kandinsky, Marc, and Klee both in actual exhibitions, and in discussions of his artistic and conceptual calibre. His legacy today, however, is something of a battlefield, and the explanation for this lies in the seemingly incongruent bodies of … Read more
Joshua Simon, ed. Being Together Precedes Being: A Textbook for The Kids Want Communism (Archive Books, 2019), 392 pp.
Being Together Precedes Being: A Textbook for The Kids Want Communism is the culmination of a series of exhibitions, symposia, seminars, screenings, interviews, and publications co-organized by iLiana Kokianaki, Vladimir Vidmar, Oleksiy Radynski, Vit Havranek, Patrice Sharkey, Kuba Szreder, and Joshua Simon throughout 2016 and 2017 in response to the 99th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The year-long series of events – hosted by the Museums of Bat Yam (MoBY), Bat Yam, Israel; the Visual Culture Research Center, Kyiv; Free/Slow … Read more
Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011, MoMA PS1, November 3, 2019–March 3, 2020
Coinciding with the turn of a new decade, the trove of artistic responses to the West’s lengthy military presence in Iraq currently amassed at PS1’s warehouse-sized venue focuses a new lens on recent history. Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011 is overwhelming in scale yet rich in material, brimming with perspectives that peel back the layers of this protracted, two-part conflict from the not-so-distant past, which now threatens to resurface. Many of the voices represented in the exhibition hail from places other than Iraq: France, … Read more
The workshop’s central goal is to use its results to build the theory and methods chapter of the upcoming volume Creative Dissent: Alternative Cultures during Socialism and Beyond, 1945-1991 (edited by K. Cseh-Varga / M. Klimke / B. Peksevgen / R. Werenskjold / M. Zubak).
This workshop will be centered around exploring what “alternative culture” means, and how we can critically reflect on the terminology within the context of state socialisms. The organizers of the workshop are interested in the origins, the translation, the adaptation, the production, the reproduction, and the distribution of this terminology, both as a historic and … Read more
Since 1989, art historians from countries such as Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary and Romania have benefitted from unprecedented intellectual freedom, yet their voice has often still to be heard on the wider global stage. Where they gain international attention, it is mostly as authorities on specifically ‘national’
Sammy Baloji: Extractive Landscapes, Stadtgalerie Museumspavillon, Salzburg, July 25 – August 17, 2019
A landscape that has been transformed by human intervention retells the story of the complex power play between different interests and concepts of reality. Such a landscape is never neutral, but rather constantly negotiated and explored, suggesting various interpretations and conclusions. Colonial expansion represented lands outside of the ‘civilized’ European framework as spaces in dire need of cultivation, civilization, and ultimately exploitation, their inhabitants included. Such attitudes continue to affect people in former colonies and beyond. Their material realities have permanently changed by the consequences of colonial … Read more
Steirischer Herbst 2019: The Grand Hotel Abyss, Graz, Austria, September 19 – October 13, 2019
This year’s iteration of Steirischer Herbst —the annual arts-and-theater festival held in Graz since 1968—took its title from György Lukács’s metaphor the “Grand Hotel Abyss.” Lukács, the Hungarian Marxist philosopher, aesthetician and literary critic, used the term pejoratively. The title in its original usage was aimed at the Frankfurt School’s inclination for theory over action during the interwar period. According to Lukács, the likes of Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Jürgen Habermas represented an intellectually decadent elite locked in a hotel only to be smashed … Read more
Andrea Bátorová, The Art of Contestation: Performative Practices in the 1960s and 1970s in Slovakia (Bratislava: Comenius University, 2019), 219pp.
The Art of Contestation: Performative Practices in the 1960s and 1970s in Slovakia is the long-awaited English-language monograph by Andrea Bátorová, the result of her extensive research and writing on performance art.Bátorová’s PhD dissertation was published in German as Aktionskunst in der Slowakei in den 1960er Jahren : Aktionen von Alex Mlynkárčik (Berlin, Münster, Germany: LIT Verlag, 2009). In it, she covers the work of key artists from Slovakia’s performance scene, during the heyday of its activity: Alex … Read more
Klara Kemp-Welch, Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965-1981 (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2019), 480PP.
Authoritative, yet written in a colloquial tone in keeping with the human connections it delves into, Klara Kemp-Welch’s long-awaited book Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965-1981 offers an insightful account of experimental art in Eastern Europe during the Cold War period. Its main intention is to “challenge the idea that experimental artists in the Soviet bloc operated in isolation,” by examining how people, objects, and ideas connected and circulated across the countries behind the Iron Curtain. The evidence gathered … Read more
In this symposium we seek to analyse and understand the prisms through which we could meaningfully reconsider significant silences. Our particular interest is in rethinking the silences about WWII, its aftermath and the Soviet era in order to explore how they could offer productive ways of understanding present social change. We wish to discuss silence as a layered and complex phenomenon in the context in which relationships between communities and individuals often escape easy descriptions and have instead produced scattered histories and memories that remain divided.
Recently, several concepts have been proposed by scholars, such as multidirectional memory and the … Read more
Art historian Cristina Baldacci and artist Marysia Lewandowska discuss It’s About Time (translated into Italian as ‘Era ora!’), her Special Project in the Pavilion of Applied Arts (curated by Ralph Rugoff) for the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Based on records of meetings held by the Mayor of Venice (Riccardo Selvatico) between 1893 and 1895, the project focuses on the absence of women from art history, taking the Biennale as a case in point.
As part of her project, Lewandowska invited a group of Italian women practitioners(L. Cavorsi, G. Damiani, V. Facchin, A. Ongaro, … Read more
Parole, Parole (As a Counter-Hegemonic Gesture): Red Discussion No. 2 (Pavilion of the Republic of North Macedonia; Maja Ćirić)
Parole, parole(The reference is to the famous Italian duet performed in 1972 by Mina and Alberto Lupo about appealing yet hollow, empty words.) (As a Counter-hegemonic Gesture): Red Discussion No. 2, part of Subversion to Red by Nada Prlja for The Pavilion of The Republic of North Macedonia
The number of professionals in the fields of the arts and humanities who are capable of critically reflecting upon the planetary condition appears to be small. Fewer still are those who express any critical, communal, or selfless interest in connecting the legacy of the arts and humanities to the … Read more
From the Eastern Bloc to the Bronx: Early Acquisitions from the Art Collection, Derfner Judaica Museum and the Art Collection at the Hebrew Home, Riverdale, New York (May 5-August 25, 2019)
Writing in 2009, Polish scholar Piotr Piotrowski suggested that we recognize multiple, coexisting art historical canons. Focusing on the postwar period, Piotrowski sketched out a series of interweaving histories, at once looking at the broader picture while also considering the political heterogeneity of specific states within the Soviet-dominated region.(See Piotr Piotrowski, In the Shadow of Yalta: Art and Avant-Garde in Eastern Europe, 1945-1989 (London: Reaktion Books, 2009).… Read more
Zornitsa Stoyanova is a performance artist working between the United States and Bulgaria. Currently based in Philadelphia, Stoyanova performs under the name Here[begin] Dance, and her practice involves the creation of large-scale props in front of her audience. Her work explores an amalgamation of genres, blending choreography, performance, song, and shadow play. This summer, Stoyanova took part in Etud and Friends, a dance and performance festival held in Sofia and one of a growing number of multidisciplinary events that seeks to bring together local and transnational artists and performers working in a variety of disciplines.
While Bulgaria hosts multiple dance … Read more
The Matter of Art Biennale Symposium Who are We Talking with? What Can Institutions (Un)learn from Artists?
Who are we talking with? What can institutions (un)learn from artists? Prague, 17-18 May 2019
In contemporary critical artistic and curatorial discourse, the word “organization” is often accompanied by the word “future”. Through the practice of self-questioning and self-positioning, the institution of the biennale recently also became a vehicle for critical investigations focused on envisioning the future beyond a global administered society. Several interesting biennales were initiated in Central and Eastern Europe where, according to Vít Havránek, for a long time “we had believed that democracy and capitalism were two separate processes and that aesthetic differentiation was a mirror image … Read more
After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York City, June 15 – October 6, 2019
Philosopher and Columbia University faculty member Souleymane Bachir Diagne’s 2013 book The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa situates the afterlife of socialism in sub-Saharan Africa after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 in terms of “a search for itself.” (Souleymane Bachir Diagne, The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa. Dakar : CODESRIA, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2016.)
Taking Diagne’s … Read more
Revolt She Said: Decolonial and Feminist Perspectives on 1968, District Berlin and Alpha Nova & Galerie Futura, September 2018 – January 2019.
In European and especially German history, 1968 marks the beginning of far-reaching critical engagement on the part of students and established intellectuals with the rise and fall of fascism, and its continuities in postwar societies. The ensuing protests – carried out by students, sometimes in cooperation with trade unions, notably in France – aimed to shake up not only politics and state institutions, but also social mores and gender roles. On a global scale, 1968 stands for the … Read more
Karol Radziszewski: Queer Archives Institute, Schwules Museum, Berlin, June 20 – September 23, 2019
From June 20 to September 23, 2019, Berlin’s Schwules Museum [Gay Museum] hosted an exhibition of queer archives from Eastern Europe collected and presented by Karol Radziszewski, Polish artist, activist, and founder of the Queer Archives Institute (QAI). The QAI is among the most extensive and most visible of a number of queer archives recently founded in Poland and in other Central and East European countries, where celebrating and memorializing non-heteronormative lives and cultural production remains a novelty, perhaps even a rarity. Historically, these countries differed … Read more
Conscious Inability: The Archive of Gabriele Stötzer, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (GfZK Leipzig), March 3, 2019 – March 2020.
Conscious Inability: The Gabriele Stötzer Archive at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (GfZK Leipzig) takes a long deserved in-depth look at the work of Gabriele Stötzer (also Gabriele Kachold, *1954), one of the central representatives of feminist art in the late GDR. Conscious Inability: The Gabriele Stötzer Archive is a long-term research and exhibition project: over the course of one year, from March 2019 to March 2020, three exhibitions will highlight different aspects of Stötzer’s artistic practice and political … Read more
ARTMargins Online asked writers and critics close to the journal to respond to several Eastern European national pavilions at this year’s Venice Biennale. Our interest was in parsing the way in which pavilion curators approached the problem of nationhood and representation in a region caught between the Socialist past and an uncertain present marked by nationalism and neo-liberal economic policies. This series of responses is supplemented by an interview with Berlin-based artist Maria Loboda.
Maria Loboda is a Berlin-based visual artist who works interdisciplinarily, creating installations that combine objects, linguistic elements, plants, audio recordings, illustrations, drawings and photographs. She was invited to participate in the58th International Art Exhibition of Venice Biennale, curated by Ralph Rugoff, with three works created in 2017. In the Arsenale, Loboda’s shows the multimedia installation Lord of Abandoned Success (L’Argile Humide). In the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, two digital prints from the on-going series Zero Dynasty – Zero Dynasty II and V are being shown, and in the Bookshop Pavilion Stirling, her work Young Warrior in the … Read more
Roman Stańczak’s installation Flight for the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale at once invites and defies final interpretations. The massive sculpture occupying the entire pavilion was created by violently splitting in half a private aircraft, and then sewing it back together inside out. What at first glance could be regarded as a direct reference to the Smoleńsk airplane catastrophe in 2010–dramatically polarizing Polish society, and eventually leading to the victory of the nationalistic, right-wing party Law and Justice—proves to encompass more complex meanings and references. In fact, the work can be perhaps best described as an allegory in the … Read more
There is nothing unusual about famous gallerists curating national pavilions at the Venice Biennale, but it is another thing to have Mikhail Piotrovsky (the director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg) curate his country’s pavilion by inviting artists to engage with the history of the museum and its collection, thus turning the Biennale pavilion into a commentary on the Hermitage. Piotrovsky has orchestrated a complex metacommentary on the relation of the national pavilion to Russia’s “national treasure” that houses the works of many of the world’s Renaissance and Baroque masters—French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Flemish.
The Russian Pavilion … Read more
Heart, Hands, and a Shovel: Danica Dakić’s Zenica Trilogy (Pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Uroš Čvoro)
Reflecting on the national pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in the context of a Venice Biennale titled “May You Live In Interesting Times”, it is impossible to not think of a BiH joke-curse from the 1990s: “May you see your house on CNN.” This joke captures the paradox of global visibility that accompanies regions that have been subject to conflict and crisis.On art that uses humour to respond to crisis, see Uroš Čvoro and Chrisoula Lionis, “When the Periphery Laughs: Humor and Locality in Contemporary Art from Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Cultural Politics15:2 (2019), 223-243. Seeing … Read more
Igor Grubić’s long-term photographic project Traces of Disappearing (In Three Acts) is a few steps down from the stately abode on the Canale Grande that is home to the Prada Foundation, where a sprawling show of the work of Jannis Kounellis is on view at the same time. The contrast between the two venues, and the works exhibited inside, could not be more striking: from the Venetian palazzo to the rough, workshop-like space with a low ceiling and painted walls that houses Grubić’s installation; from the commanding, self-sufficient installations of Kounellis to Grubić’s photographs of post-transition Croatia. Traces of … Read more
Queer Abstraction, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, June 1 – September 8, 2019.
Harmony Hammond has argued for the “transgressive potential of abstraction.”Harmony Hammond, Lesbian Art in America (New York: Rizzoli, 2000), 89. Hammond is included in the Queer Abstraction exhibitionat the Des Moines Art Center along with artists Math Bass, Mark Bradford, Elijah Burgher, Tom Burr, Mark Joshua Epstein, Edie Fake, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Nicolas Hlobo, John Paul Morabito, Carrie Moyer, Sheila Pepe, Prem Sahib, Jonathan VanDyke, and Jade Yumang. The contemporary works in this exhibition demonstrate the “transgressive potential” of “queer abstraction”. Curating a show around … Read more
Dialogue between Yevgeniy Fiks and Thomas Sokolowski about Fiks’ recent show at the Zimmerli Art Museum
Yevgeniy Fiks calls himself a “post-Soviet” artist, thus designating his personal history of belonging to the generation that was born in the Soviet Union and came to the West after its collapse. His work can be characterized as an archival exploration of history, understood as the unearthing of facts, events, and narratives that have been forgotten or obscured by dominant ideological discourses. His first “mini-retrospective” entitled Mr. Deviant, Comrade Degenerate: Selected Works by Yevgeniy Fiks, which was on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University until the end of July, focuses on three different types of nonconformism – … Read more
Decades of open-pit mining has left the landscape of the Konin region in western Poland deserted, with the soil dry and hostile to plants. The coal producers, who are legally obliged to recultivate the post-mine landscape face a difficult task, but fortunately for them there are few plants whose needs meet the harsh reality of this barren land. For the seaberry plant (Hippophae), this sandy post-coal environment is just fine to grow, and the plant develops abundantly over the transformed land that was once exploited by the mining corporations. This essay explores the Hippophae of Diana Lelonek’s artistic … Read more
Lene Markusen, Sisters Alike. Female Identities in the Post-Utopian (Leipzig: Spector Books, 2019), 184PP.
It may seem a curious and difficult project to try to translate the unique poetics of moving images into book form. Danish filmmaker Lene Markusen has taken up the onerous task in her recently published book Sisters Alike. Female Identities in the Post-Utopian. What emerges feels like a wholly individual composition, marked by an unparalleled interpictorial approach that weaves her sketches and photographic impressions of Russia—in particular, its female protagonists—with archival materials and stills from two of her films, GRAD (2004) and Sankt—Female … Read more