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Subjective Histories: Self-historicization as Artistic Practice in Central-East Europe

Daniel Grúň (ed.), Subjective Histories: Self-historicization as Artistic Practice in Central-East Europe, Bratislava, Veda, 2020, 320 pp.

The image on the cover of the book Subjective histories: Self-historicization as Artistic Practice in Central-East Europe shows an empty escalator. Its constant up and down movement might visualize the quest that all the texts in this book seem to share: to highlight the parallels between different artistic activities before 1989 and their meaning from a present point of view. The cover photograph (by Peter Sit) is from a performance by Slovak artist Matej Gavula, together with APART Collective, called Sunday, … Read more

A Memorial That Neither Victims nor Perpetrators Want but Is Needed: An Interview with Ilona Németh

In March 2022, the General Assembly of Budapest announced the winning team of the juried competition for the public memorial, Memory of Rape in Wartimes: Women as Victims of Sexual Violence, a unique memorial project that aims to address the difficult history of violence against women during wartime. The winning proposal, Memory of Rape in  Wartimes, by Slovakian-Hungarian artist Ilona Németh, architect Gabi Mészáros, and poet Anikó N. Tóth, is to be realized in 2023. Hedvig Turai recently spoke with Ilona Németh about their project.

Hedvig Turai: To set up a memorial to wartime victims of rape is … Read more

CfP: Revolutionary Romances: Into the Cold (Albertinum Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden)

Call for Papers – International Conference, Thursday 13 October 2022. In person at the Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, plus streaming online

Deadline for submissions: 15 May 2022.

PhD students and early career academics are invited to submit abstracts to speak at this one-day workshop, which seeks to disrupt the East-to-West “defection” narrative of the postwar transatlantic art scene. Through examples of artists from Western contexts who chose to enter Communist and recent post-Communist countries in Europe and elsewhere, as well as the institutional frameworks specifically aimed at facilitating such exchange, the event will explore an alternative direction of travel

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The Grave is Better Than Not Knowing

The Grave is Better Than Not Knowing, Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo, Prishtina, November 18, 2021 – January 31, 2022

“The grave is better than not knowing”: this is how Kumrije Jahmurataj expressed her sorrow while anxiously awaiting news of her missing husband, Smajli, who to this day remains unaccounted for after the 1998-99 Kosovo War. Jahmurataj was interviewed as part of research conducted by The Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLC Kosovo), a non-profit organization that was first established during the social upheaval of 1997, before the war began. In the post-war context, HLC Kosovo has played a key role in

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The artist, a black woman with very short hair, sitting at a table against a dark background. She has a box open in front of her and appears to be reading something inside the box.

“To Me, Everything is a Space for Encounter”: Michael Laundry in Conversation with Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński

Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński is an interdisciplinary artist mainly using archival and museal material for artistic research in photography and video. Late last year, Kazeem-Kamiński received the Camera Austria Award for Contemporary Photography by the City of Graz. A solo show of her work was also recently on view at Kunsthalle Wien. While in Vienna, Michael Laundry spoke with Kazeem-Kamiński about how her work creates space to think about Black feminism, representation, and post-colonial theory. In this interview, Laundry and Kazeem-Kamiński discuss the her use of slide shows, artist books, photography, and video in the dissection of the white gaze on Black … Read more

THE EARTH IS FLAT AGAIN

The Earth is Flat Again / Ziemia znów jest płaska, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, September 24, 2021 – February 27, 2022

The impetus to rethink the role of the museum characterizes the overarching exhibition program of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland, which historically emerged in the 1920s from the international modern art collection of the Polish avant-garde “a.r.” group and its members, such as artists Władysław Strzemiński and Katarzyna Kobro. The ideas of the “a.r.” group as well as other radical proposals from the beginning of the 20th century to redefine the concept of the museum are currently … Read more

A black and white photo showing the curators and artist of the Ukrainian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennial

The Story of the Ukrainian Pavilion in Venice and Exhibition-Making as a Matter of Cultural Survival: An Interview with Maria Lanko

With the upcoming 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice on April 23, Maria Lanko, Lizaveta German, and Borys Filonenko—the curators of artist Pavlo Makov’s project Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta for the Ukrainian Pavilion—have found themselves in a difficult situation that has made it impossible for them to continue working on the exhibition. On March 8, 2022, the organizers of the pavilion announced that “despite the ongoing war, the team managed to evacuate the fragments of [Makov’s] artwork from Kyiv” and will be able to present it at the upcoming Venice Biennale.(“Ukrainian pavilion will make it to La Biennale Read more

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Resources for Artists and Scholars Forced to Flee Ukraine

In support of artists, scholars, and all people forced to flee Ukraine because of the Russian invasion of the country, the editorial collective of ARTMargins Online is compiling a growing list of resources (primarily art- and research-related), including residencies, fellowships,  internships, and emergency funds. We will continue to update this list as we become aware of new opportunities and resources. Please let us know of additional resources by contacting us through this online form.

For Scholars

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Dark blue book cover with a black and white photograph of artist duo KwieKulik, a standing woman holding papers over the head of a seated man

Monitored Activities: Eastern European Performance Art through the Prisms of Photography, Film, and Politics

Corinna Kühn, Medialisierte Körper: Performances und Aktionen der Neoavantgarden Ostmitteleuropas in den 1970er Jahren (Vienna: Böhlau, 2020), 324 pp.

Corinna Kühn’s Medialisierte Körper: Performances und Aktionen der Neoavantgarden Ostmitteleuropas in den 1970er Jahren deals with selected performances and actions from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Poland during the 1970s. Her focus lies on the dimension of documentation through photography and video. She is interested in how artists communicated with imaginary or future spectators through the deliberate use of images or even the manipulation of techniques of filming or photographing. The book approaches the topic through detailed analyses of works by Endre

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Realtime Monument: Interview with Mladen Miljanović

Banja Luka-based artist Mladen Miljanović has had a long-standing interest in monuments and practices of remembering, from his The Garden of Delights (2013), an installation that emulates tombstone engravings created for the Bosnia and Herzegovina national pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, to his Draft for a 20 Minute Monument (2019), in which nine disabled men and war veterans sit for 20 minutes on a discarded pile of stones. This conversation, part of our Special Issue on Contemporary Approaches to Monuments in Central and Eastern Europe, was occasioned by his upcoming exhibition Realtime Monument at Budapest acb Gallery (March … Read more

Call for Papers: ESPRit Conference, Budapest

Periodicals Beyond Hierarchies: Challenging Geopolitical and Social “Centers” and “Peripheries” Through the Press

The European Society for Periodical Research (ESPRit) convenes its 2022 (10th) international conference for the first time in East-Central Europe, in Budapest, Hungary, to focus on the following theme: Periodicals Beyond Hierarchies: Challenging Geopolitical and Social “Centers” and “Peripheries” Through the Press.

The conference will reflect on the way in which periodicals as essential forums of the public sphere challenge, transform, or interpret the notion of “centers” and “peripheries” in a context of permanently shifting and historically unstable situations. Papers may investigate these questions, in … Read more

A view of a Lenin monument against a bleak field with bare trees to either side. The statue shows Lenin walking forward, his coat blown open by the wind.

Invocation Trilogy – A Conversation on Monumentality, Language, and the Past with Miška Mandić and Kuba Dorabialski

Kuba Dorabialski’s film series Invocation Trilogy stitches together an unlikely constellation of encounters and mythologies centered around the Eastern European Socialist project. Narrated in a fictional Slavic language invented by Dorabialski, the trilogy plays with truth, fabrication, and legibility as it unpacks histories and memories of Eastern Europe from the insider/outsider migrant perspective. In this interview, artist and filmmaker Miška Mandić speaks with Dorabialski about this work and his practice.

Miška Mandić: The Invocation Trilogy is a series of three video works made between 2017 and 2021, each with a bigger scope than the last. Rather than a sense … Read more

A Slow Burning Fire: The Rise of the New Art Practice in Yugoslavia

Marko Ilić, A Slow Burning Fire: The Rise of the New Art Practice in Yugoslavia (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2021), 384 PP.

To what extent does the term “institutional critique” adequately describe the work of the New Art Practice, Yugoslavia’s famous generation of conceptual artists? Scholars have taken a range of approaches to this question, from those who reject the term as associated with Western art histories, to those who see the New Art Practice’s dematerialized, socially critical artworks as a form of institutional critique responsive to local conditions. (For example, in her 2007 contribution to the journal Transversal on Read more

From Rags to Monuments: Ana Lupaş’s Humid Installation

How can we, in the middle of a heated debate around public monuments as highly visible and dominant bearers of history around the world, perceive the more layered and subtle aspects of commemorative practice? Reflection on anti-, counter- and performative monuments has not abated, but been absorbed in the current worldwide struggle to remove, replace, and otherwise neutralize monuments spatializing unjust power. That is all to the good, as long as we don’t forget that monuments, and artists, can do things that bear witness against impossible odds—and without erecting anything permanent. In this essay I look at several iterations of … Read more

Imaging and Mapping Eastern Europe

Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius, Imaging and Mapping Eastern Europe (New York and Oxford: Routledge, 2021), 252 PP.

Imaging and Mapping Eastern Europe is a broad survey of images, created mainly in Britain, showing maps, people, landscapes, and cartoons of Eastern Europe. The author presents a long-durée analysis that extends from the Renaissance to present times and goes through diverse mediums of representation that have rarely been analyzed together: maps, engravings, photographs, cartoons, and book covers. Murawska-Muthesius makes a convincing statement for the significance of visual culture and specifically for the power of images not only to represent, but also to actively create … Read more

A Counter-Monument to Female Victims of Wartime Rape: An Interview with Edit András

A new memorial project in Budapest, Memory of Rape in Wartimes: Women as Victims of Sexual Violence, will commemorate female victims of wartime rape, while establishing a culture of dialogue around rape and violence in Hungarian society and the region. Initiated by the General Assembly of Budapest in January 2020 and to be completed in 2023, the project goes against the grain of the practices of the current Hungarian government’s illiberal system of erecting nationalist monuments and statues without public input, through an open, democratic process that includes artists, historians, scholars, an international jury, and representatives from public institutions. … Read more

Call for Papers: Beyond Friendships. Regional Cultural Transfer in the Art of the ‘70s

In May 2022, Artpool Art Research Center, Budapest, and the Central European Research Institute for Art History (KEMKI) is organizing a conference designed to investigate the concept of cultural transfer and its relevance for the transnational art histories of Central-East Europe.

Following the pathway of horizontal art history set by Piotr Piotrowski, our conference will suggest a definition of Central-East European art based on actual contacts, dialogues, and reciprocal affects between the art practitioners of the region. In 20th-century Eastern Europe, cultural relationships were the result of historical events, waves of emigration, and the migration or relocation of minority communities, … Read more

One on One: Interview with Anna Zilahi, Missa Echologica (2021)

 

This podcast is part of the One on One series, which presents timely encounters between ARTMargins Online editors and contemporary artists, focused on one work.  It was recorded on the occasion of the recent online release of Missa Echologica, a video piece. Zsuzsa László interviews the Hungarian artist and poet Anna Zilahi who created this work in collaboration with Laura Szári and the Varsányi Szirének feminist choir (Blanka Bolonyai, Dóra Ferenczy, Bettina Horváth, Dóra Király, Rita Szántó, Laura Szári, Diána Takács, Eszter Tóth, Virág Török, Anna Zilahi). Gergely Ofner was in charge of photography. The work was introduced … Read more

Otranto – A Time-Based Monument to Albania’s 1997 Migration: A Conversation with Latent Community

This interview focuses on the film Otranto (2019–2020), created by the artist collective Latent Community (Ionian Bisai and Sotiris Tsiganos). Otranto explores a relatively unknown tragedy: the story of the refugee ship Katër i Radës. The ship departed from the Albanian port city of Vlora, carrying 120 people fleeing the violence that had engulfed the country following the massive collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. On March 28, 1997, the Italian navy warship Sibilla—acting in accordance with an Italian blockade of Albania to prevent refugees from entering the country—intercepted, rammed, and sunk the Katër i Radës in the strait of … Read more

In Search of Parallel Worlds: A Portrait of Ilija Šoškić

Ilija Šoškić, born in 1935 in present-day Kosovo (then part of Yugoslavia), and raised in present-day Montenegro, became the most known representative of the Montenegrin neo-avant-garde, although the artist would never call himself that. Rejecting any nationalist aspirations of the post-Yugoslav states, he sees himself instead as a nomad or a pilgrim(I refer to the title of Šoškić’s performance Pilgrimage (Hero’s Walk), from a 1975 performance realized at the Hohenzollern Castle, in Tubingen, Germany.)—somebody constantly on the road. Nevertheless, he has returned on several occasions to Montenegro and currently is based in neighboring Croatia.

Šoškić’s actions, installations, and … Read more

ŠTO TE NEMA – A Living Monument: An Interview with Aida Šehović

ŠTO TE NEMA (Where have you been?) by Bosnian-born artist Aida Šehović is an annual nomadic monument to the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide that has traveled internationally to 15 different cities from 2006 to 2020. This participatory public monument, consisting of more than 8,372 fildžani (small porcelain coffee cups) that have been collected and donated by Bosnian families from all over the world, addresses issues of trauma, healing, and remembrance. The first in a series of articles that make up our Special Issue Contemporary Approaches to Monuments in Central and Eastern Europe, this interview is occasioned by Šehović’s

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Special Issue: Contemporary Approaches to Monuments in Central and Eastern Europe

Introduction to Special Issue

What new practices of commemoration, and what new kinds of memory, do contemporary monuments make possible? What can contemporary art do to help us remember, and what does it mean to make a monument in today’s conditions? This Special Issue highlights a broad range of contemporary practices devoted to alternative forms of commemoration and the problems posed by monumentality within present-day Central and Eastern Europe and its diaspora. Such practices include documentary projects, performances, and interventions that occupy the post-socialist public sphere, as well as works that explore the fraught legacies of socialist-era monuments and subsequent … Read more

a drawing showing a pyramidal arrangement of funnels, each draining out of two spouts into progressively wider rows of funnels below

On the Concept of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ukraine: Svitlana Biedarieva in Conversation with Olya Balashova and Yuliia Hnat

For many years, Ukraine has experienced a growing need for a Museum of Contemporary Art that would function as the first state-run collection focused on acquiring and exhibiting the work of contemporary Ukrainian artists. The attempts to create such an institution began in the early 2000s, but thus far have been unsuccessful due to political and sociocultural factors. In 2020, a nonprofit association was created to work in an applied way on the development of theconcept of the museum, with the involvement of key experts in contemporary art and culture. In this interview, art historian and artist Svitlana Biedarieva speaks … Read more

Nonaligned Modernism

BOJANA VIDEKANIĆ, NONALIGNED MODERNISM: SOCIALIST POSTCOLONIAL AESTHETICS IN YUGOSLAVIA 1945-1985 (TORONTO: MCGILL-QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2020), 302 PP.

Bojana Videkanić’s book Nonaligned Modernism: Socialist Postcolonial Aesthetics in Yugoslavia, 1945-1985 represents an important contribution to understanding the entanglements of artistic, cultural, economic and political histories in Yugoslavia. It articulates a body of knowledge on nonaligned cultural politics in the idiosyncratic context of socialist Yugoslavia. Although the country started its post-WWII history as a member of the Soviet pact, it radically changed its political and cultural position when Josip Broz Tito uttered the well-known ‘no’ to Stalin in 1948, thus ending of close … Read more

Call for Papers: The Global GDR–A Trans-Cultural History of Art (1949-1990)

Time/Place of the Conference: February 24-26, 2022, Technical University, Dresden (TU Dresden). The international and interdisciplinary conference “The Global GDR – A Transcultural History of Art (1949-1990)” is dedicated to a chapter in the history of art in Eastern Europe that has received little attention up until now, the manifold connections, in the field of art, between the GDR and socialist countries outside of the Eastern Bloc, in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These relations manifested themselves in artists’ trips and in reciprocal study visits; in exhibitions of East German art abroad as well as of non-European art in the … Read more

a view of the gallery with plaster sculptures in the foreground and a gray wall behind with paintings

Open Archive: A Review

Open Archive (Arkivi i Hapur), National Gallery of Arts, Tirana, September 18, 2020 – Ongoing.

The advent of the coronavirus pandemic seems to have sparked a surge in archival-minded exhibitions in museums (and other kinds of art spaces) the world over, a trend that was especially noticeable in the aftermath of the first wave of the pandemic during the summer of 2020. Many of these shows have been permeated by a sense of “getting back to basics,” as it were. This is not surprising, given that the coronavirus pandemic has put into question the ability of museums to perform the … Read more

book cover with a b&w photo of a man taking a photo of a socialist housing block

The Socialist Life of Modern Architecture: Bucharest 1949-1964

Juliana Maxim, The Socialist Life of Modern Architecture: Bucharest 1949-1964 (NY: Routledge, 2019), 188 PP.

Socialist architecture has been the object of a growing subfield of architectural history for more than a decade. The subfield grew at the intersection of anthropology, sociology and political history delving into issues concerning spatiality and everyday life but also conceptions of design, construction and modernity. Socialist architecture’s bad reputation as being non-architectural, which can only be compared to that of Socialist Realist art, has long obstructed scholarly interest in many countries of the former Soviet Bloc. Juliana Maxim’s book is the first monograph in … Read more

Contesting Art: From Highbrow to Nobrow

Max Ryynänen, On the Philosophy of Central European Art: The History of an Institution and Its Global Competitors (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2021), 137 PP.

For some readers, the title of Max Ryynänen’s book On the Philosophy of Central European Art: The History of an Institution and Its Global Competitors, which implies an historical exposition of aesthetic-theoretical ideas in circulation in Central Europe or perhaps conceptual reflections on art emanating from there, may be misleading—particularly for those, such as the readership of ARTMargins, whose specific aesthetic and scholarly interests lie in the region. Ryynänen’s designation “Central European,” for … Read more

One on One Series: Kristina Benjocki, Ground Bindings (Nada, Gizela, Tereza) (2019)

The One on One series presents timely encounters between ARTMargins Online editors and contemporary artists, focused on one work.

Sven Spieker: Ground Bindings – could you comment on how this project came about, and also about its title?

Kristina Benjocki: Ground Bindings (Nada, Gizela, Tereza) is an installation with three handwoven textiles, 90×120 cm each, wallpaper, glass shelf and yarn labels. The work explores haptic memory and proposes understanding touch as an intimate way of bearing witness to personal and collective histories. The three textiles at the heart of the installation are handwoven, using the three basic binding … Read more

Mark Verlan (1963-2020): An Absolute Totality

Moldovan artist Mark Verlan passed away in Chişinău on the eve of this new year. Known by many names – Marioka Son of Rain (Marioca fiul ploii in Romanian and Marioca sin dozhdea in Russian), Marioca Son-and-Rain, or simply Mark, Marc, Maric, or Marik – he died at the age of 57 of a heart attack. Some names were given to him, others he chose (like his nom d’artiste “Son of Rain”), and the rest are the result of Moldova’s bilingualism, or the local preference for diminutives used to convey endearment or playful respect. His many names and spellings … Read more