Women at War gathers the works of twelve Ukrainian artists who employ a variety of media to address the Russian war against Ukraine, from its beginning in 2014 to the full-scale invasion in February 2022, through the lens of gendered experience. The exhibition explores the struggle for Ukrainian independence and women’s equality against the backdrop of the war and its impact on both the national and individual psyche while giving voice to women as narrators of history and agents of change. Curated by Monika Fabijanska, Women at War premiered at Fridman Gallery, New York, in the summer of 2022, and … Read more
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Image/ Counterimage at Museum Ludwig Cologne, April 22 – August 27, 2023
Drawing on their excellent photographic collection, Cologne’s Museum Ludwig has dedicated an exhibition to the photographic self-portrait. The show, titled Image/ Counterimage, brings together several key works by the artists Carrie Mae Weems, VALIE EXPORT, Ana Mendieta, Sanja Iveković, and Tarrah Krajnak. Spanning three rooms, it offers an engaging tour of different artistic strategies of staging the female body as a site of resistance. While the former four artists represent established positions regarding photography in the feminist context since the 1970s, the latter introduces a more recent inquisition … Read more
One of the most noted 20th-century artists born in the USSR, Ilya Kabakov, died on May 27, 2023. It is no easy task to pay short tribute to a man of his ingenuity, diligence, discipline, and influence. Rather than publishing a standard obituary, ARTMargins Online editors asked some of the artist’s friends and collaborators, as well as critics and curators, to reflect, below, on his life and work from a personal perspective. The resulting collage of responses formally functions not unlike Kabakov’s own Answers of an Experimental Group (1971). This work compelled Boris Groys, one of Kabakov’s earliest commentators, to … Read more
This text was first published on the ARTMargins Online website on December 31, 1999. It is being republished in honor of its author Svetlana Boym (1959–2015), and Ilya Kabakov (1933–2023).
At the end of the millennium, it has become fashionable to speak about the “end of history” and the “end of art,” to say nothing about the end of the world. Boris Groys has commented that Soviet civilization was the first modern civilization whose death we have witnessed, and there are more to come.(Boris Groys, “Un homme qui veut duper le temps” in Installations 1983-1995 (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, … Read more
Magdalena Abakanowicz: Every Tangle Of Thread And Rope, Tate Modern, November 17, 2022—May 21, 2023
Between autumn 2022 and spring 2023, the Blavatnik Building at Tate Modern hosted Every Tangle of Thread and Rope, a solo exhibition of textile works by Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz. Polish critic Piotr Sarzynski called the exhibition “a celebration of Polish art”—and rightfully so, as Tate’s presentation is one of the most prominent exhibitions of Abakanowicz’s work ever curated—and a unique chance for the international audience to become familiar with the sculptor and the narratives surrounding her work.(Piotr Sarzynski, “Las abakanów w … Read more
Henryk Stażewski (1894-1988) had a long artistic run in two different versions of his home country: first as a pioneer of the avant-garde in the Polish Republic between 1918 and 1939 and then his later, but no less experimental career in the communist Polish People’s Republic founded in the post-war world order after 1945. It is the latter that is the subject of the exhibition Henryk Stażewski: Late Style at the Muzeum Sztuki Lodz – to many known as a legendary institution with a pedigree as an avant-garde museum (including the colorful interior of the Neo-Plastic Room for abstract art) … Read more
Curated by Lesley Lokko, the 18th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennial is titled The Laboratory of the Future, and this concept serves as the underlying theme for the central exhibitions in the Giardini and Arsenale, as well as the national pavilions scattered through Venice’s six sestieri. Where the biennale at large provided a spotlight on Africa and the African Diaspora, each of the national pavilions individually returned to the language of “the experiment” to consider possible futures. Often contrasting past and present, as in the case of the Uzbekistan pavilion, this language of experimentation and possibility similarly appeared … Read more
Seth Howes, Moving Images on the Margins: Experimental Film in Late Socialist East Germany (London: Camden House, 2019), 280 pp.
Seth Howes opens his study with a quote from East Berlin filmmaker Cornelia Klauß. Klauß argues that due to their avant-garde-inspired aesthetics the smaller, primarily experimental films in the GDR were a nuisance to the industrialized film production of DEFA (Deutsche Film AG), the GDR’s state-run film and television company. Although these experimental films met with great resistance from the official side and were either banned or denied financial support, Howes describes them as a product of one … Read more
Ksenya Gurshtein and Sonja Simonyi, eds., Experimental Cinemas in State-Socialist Eastern Europe (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press B.V., 2022), 334 PP.
Experimental Cinemas in State-Socialist Eastern Europe contains thirteen essays that address film production between the 1950s and the late 1980s in the national contexts of state-socialist countries outside the former U.S.S.R.: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The aim of the book is to fill the gap in English-language literature on postwar experimental filmmaking in Eastern Europe, which is still mostly constituted by studies focusing on experimental film culture in individual countries. The book’s transnational perspective gives
Cinema, Culture, and the Spirit of the Times (NLO: Moscow, 2023), a new publication by the late film historian Maya Turovskaya and Los Angeles-based culturologist Vladimir Paperny, presents a thoughtful comparative analysis of the Soviet and Hollywood film industries. We are publishing an exclusive translation from one of the book’s key chapters below. Maya Iosifovna Turovskaya (1924–2019), a legendary figure in the world of film and theater criticism who passed away in 2019 at the age of 95, left behind an extraordinary legacy. Her work on the iconic Soviet documentary Triumph Over Violence (dir. Mikhail Room, 1965) offered groundbreaking comparisons … Read more
Below–and in conjunction with Sasha Razor’s interview with Vladimir Paperny, which we publish concurrently–we present a translated excerpt from a recently published book Paperny co-authored with noted late Russian film historian Maya Turovskaya, Cinema, Culture, and the Spirit of the Times (NLO: Moscow, 2023). Turovskaya and Paperny began their comparative study of US and Soviet cinema with two comedies: the mildly anti-Soviet Ninotchka and the strongly pro-Soviet film Circus. Ninotchka (1939), directed by Ernst Lubitsch, is a romantic comedy about a stern Soviet envoy, Nina Ivanovna “Ninotchka” Yakushova, who falls in love with a charming Parisian, Count Leon … Read more
Review of the conference organized by the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM) in Lisbon, September 1–3, 2022
Since 2008, the roving biennial conferences of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM) have promoted the study of the avant-garde and modernism in Europe in a wide temporal and disciplinary framework, setting leading themes such as “High and Low“ (2010 Poznań), “Utopia” (2014 Helsinki), or “CRiSiS” in 2020. The mission statement and communications of the Network have always stressed the transnational aspects of avant-garde practices and indicated that Europe is to be considered in a global setting. … Read more
Revolutionary Romances: Into the Cold – Alternative Artistic Trajectories into (Post-) Communist Europe
On October 13, 2022, the Albertinum at the Dresden State Art Collections hosted an international conference entitled “Revolutionary Romances: Into the Cold – Alternative Artistic Trajectories into (Post-)Communist Europe.” The conference sought to question the simplistic East-to-West “defection” narrative of the post-war art worlds, and to explore the multiple alternative directions of travel by artists during the Cold War. Participants discussed why artists working in and beyond the West decided to enter the communist space, and considered the unexpected results of these subversive movements.
Following the conference, Christopher Williams-Wynn, a PhD candidate at Harvard University and one of the conference … Read more
Mechtild Widrich, Monumental Cares: Sites of History and Contemporary Art (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2023), 256 pp.
The presence and absence of monuments, their authenticity and role in public discourse is the main topic of Mechtild Widrich’s new book, Monumental Cares. We live at a time when this issue has gained more than academic importance, as monuments are central to the politics of caring—caring for community, history, and justice. Being familiar with Widrich’s previous work, I have already utilized it in a critical situation. About a year ago, I participated in a public debate at Vancouver’s Urbanarium,… Read more
In March 2022, shortly after Russia had attacked Ukraine, the Chto Delat (What is to be done?) collective produced an artwork entitled Canary Archives in response to the shock of the military escalation.(Chto Delat, “Canary Archives 2022,” http://chtodelat.org/category/b7-art-projects/installations/canary-archives-2022-2/ Accessed January 31, 2023) While work on the project – comprising a four-channel video installation and a newspaper issue – had commenced earlier, the invasion was the catalyst for its statement. The filming and written elements were revised substantially as a consequence of the outbreak of war. Today, more than one year later, the relevance of the work has become … Read more
Arts, Crafts, Affects: Documenting HerStories and Worldbuilding, public seminar at Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, November 25-26, 2022
There are many ways to present an artwork to the public and sometimes, as in the case of research-driven practices, an exhibition is a limited that can often present only the brief, final effect of the many processes and collaborations that go into creating the work. Art—however research-based, relational, dematerialized, participatory, or ephemeral it might be—usually functions within institutional frameworks that require it to be “shown” in order to be shared. In contrast, practices associated with craft relate to a different tradition … Read more
Although fewer than two decades have passed since its opening, the Kumu Art Museum, located in Estonia’s capital city Tallinn, is widely acknowledged for its critical exhibitions that often highlight the nation’s traumatic past. Earlier this year, the museum showed Thinking Pictures: Conceptual Art from Moscow and the Baltics, curated by Anu Allas (professor at the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture of the Estonian Academy of Arts), Liisa Kaljula (curator at the Kumu Art Museum), and Jane A. Sharp (curator at the Zimmerli Art Museum and professor in the Department of Art History at Rutgers University, New Jersey, … Read more
At the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale, Romania is represented by the artist and filmmaker Adina Pintilie with the project You Are Another Me—A Cathedral of the Body. Curated by Cosmin Costinaș and Viktor Neumann, the project consists of a multi-channel video installation at the Romanian Pavilion, and a virtual-reality extension hosted by the New Gallery of the Romanian Institute for Culture and Humanistic Research.
Through the representation of intimacy and sexuality, the artist confronts and overcomes the concept of the normative, standardized, and performative body, while investigating its relationship with current conversations on gender … Read more
The Polish Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice this year featured the vibrant textile installation Re-enchanting the World by Polish-Romani artist Małgorzata Mirga-Tas. The project was curated by Wojciech Szymański and Joanna Warsza and selected by a jury within a competition managed by the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. The Polish contribution to this year’s biennale is unique and the first of its kind, being the first-ever national pavilion represented by a Romani artist. Although there have been several editions of the Roma Pavilion in Venice since 2007 – events and exhibitions dedicated to … Read more
The following roundtable was convened online on November 18, 2022, in conjunction with ARTMargins Online’s current special issue on Art and Solidarity. AMO’s editorial collective invited a panel of East European artists, theorists, and curators (Suzana Milevska, Olga Kopenkina, Dmitry Vilensky, Rena Raedle and Vladan Jeremic) who all have consistently engaged with the dilemmas of defining and practicing artistic solidarity. We asked participants to examine the forms and interpretations of solidarity they find the most effective, why expressions of international solidarity often fail, and what lessons the legacy of socialist internationalism may have for us today.
The online conversation moderated … Read more
The fourteenth edition of the nomadic European biennial Manifesta took place in Prishtina, Kosovo, from July 22 to October 30, 2022. The biennial included 25 exhibition venues in an urban parcours throughout the city, ranging from (dilapidated) historic monuments and institutions to public squares, abandoned buildings, and unused or unexpected urban spaces. Four of these venues have been declared “major pillars,” namely the Grand Hotel Prishtina, The Center for Narrative Practices (a former library), an abandoned brick factory on the outskirts of the city, and the so-called Green Corridor, an unused train track that has been transformed into a walking … Read more
Equating all types of work and workers in his writing, Edvard Kardelj, one of the main ideators of the Yugoslav workers’ self-management system, set the scene for the understanding of the role of artists in Yugoslav society.(Edvard Kardelj, Pravci razvoja političkog sistema socijalističkog samoupravljanja (Beograd: Komunist, 1978), p. 25.) The idea of class solidarity and the equal value of work—regardless of it being intellectual or physical—was embraced, and many initiatives followed this idea, such as the art program at the Ironworks complex in Sisak, in present-day Croatia, where workers assisted artists, and collaborated with them in the creation … Read more
“I Refuse to Accept This State of Affairs”: An Interview with the International Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the War in Ukraine
While Russia aggressively wages a major war in Ukraine, how can contemporary art help launch an antiwar movement worldwide? At a time when art workers in the post-Soviet region are more ethnically divided than ever, the International Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the War in Ukraine demonstrates a unique ability to unite around a platform for promoting antiwar and anti-colonial messages. Initially intended as an alternative Belarusian pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, this digital platform quickly evolved to include and showcase antiwar artwork from a broad spectrum of countries including Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Germany, … Read more
Introduction to the Special Issue
The articles and interviews contained in this ARTMargins Online Special Issue address a wide range of approaches to artistic solidarity, some motivated explicitly by historical precedents and others by specific conditions of the present. They explore artistic projects, online platforms, curatorial approaches, and activist stances, presenting a diverse array of perspectives on what it can mean to stand with each other, even when we are apart—sharing common strategies and common visions, in search of a common future.
The special issue brings together voices from throughout the artworld to explore the ways artists, cultural workers, and … Read more
“I don’t want art that points to a thing. I want art that is the thing.”
In 2018, Selma Selman, an artist of Romani origin who grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina (henceforth referred to as Bosnia), set out to buy her freedom from her family. Recording her project on film, she negotiated a fair price to make up for the dowry her parents would forgo in not marrying her off. She proceeded to sell her hair, her clothes, and her artworks before officially making the exchange of $11,166 for her independence. Selman’s aim was, in … Read more
Armando Lulaj and Marco Mazzi, Broken Narrative: The Politics of Contemporary Art in Albania (Earth, Milky Way: Punctum Books, 2022), 364 pp.
Broken Narrative is a book from the margins peddling central, bringing recent Albanian history into conversation with central ideological currents of our times. This symbolic exchange between local and global stories unfolds through a dialogue between Italian-educated Albanian artist Armando Lulaj and Italian photographer and multi-media artist Marco Mazzi, presenting a microcosm of a long overdue Albanian-Italian conversation. Encapsulating some of Albania’s most persistent dreams and nightmares, Italy emerges as a simulacrum of sorts, an actual and imaginary … Read more
Anti-Social Art: Experimental Practices in Late East Germany at the Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, Minnesota, February 2–May 15, 2022
In Anti-Social Art: Experimental Practices in Late East Germany, curators Sara Blaylock and Sarah James assembled a comprehensive body of art from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) that functioned as more than an art historical survey, raising larger questions about the relationship between artists and social and political institutions. The exhibition presented works by over thirty artists and artist groups active in the 1980s and early 90s. Rather than focus on better-known painters such as Willi Sitte, Werner Tübke, or … Read more
Maria Kulikovska, 254 Performance, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, April 27 to May 4, 2022
For her durational performance 254 at the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, Ukrainian artist Maria Kulikovska laid on the steps of the museum underneath the Ukrainian flag. From one Wednesday until the next between April 27 to May 4, 2022, and commencing daily at noon, 3pm, and 5pm, she performed an hour of passive action—an active disengagement that reaffirmed the relationship between fight and flight. The performance was a re-enactment of a protest that Kulikovska originally staged in 2014 at Manifesta 10, a contemporary art biennial that took place … Read more
Dream Compass: “There You Are,” or the Bulgarian Pavilion in the Context of the 59th Venice Biennial
“Images are (…) a silent language. They are a station on the way from silence to language. They stand on the frontier where silence and language face each other closer than anywhere else, but the tension between them is resolved by beauty. Images and pictures remind man of life before the coming of language. They move him with a yearning for that life (…) It is the soul that preserves the silent images of things”.(Max Picard, Images and Silence, in The World of Silence (Minnesota: Harvill, 1948), p. 80.)
The Bulgarian Pavilion at the 59th edition … Read more
This podcast dialogue took place on July 17, 2022, nearly five months since Russia first invaded Ukraine. Cultural producer Janeil Engelstad and curator Lilia Kudelia spoke with curator and researcher Kateryna Filyuk and art historian and cultural programmer Ilya Zabolotnyi about how the war has impacted Ukrainian art and culture, issues of cultural preservation and self-agency, as well as the building of support networks and new art infrastructures. Filyuk is a curator at Izolyatsia Platform for Cultural Initiatives in Kyiv, whose mission has shifted to address the war-related needs of arts organizations, artists, and cultural workers. Zabolotnyi is Director of … Read more