In 1978 the Romanian artist Ion Grigorescu shot an 8mm film of a performance entitled Dialogue with Ceausescu, which he conducted alone in the privacy of his studio. The period following Nicolae Ceausescu’s accession to power after he succeeded Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej in 1965 seemed to correspond with a softening of the communist regime. Censorship of the arts abated somewhat, with exposure to the art of Western Europe and the United States authorized, in particular by means of exhibitions.(See Magda Carneci, Art et pouvoir en Roumanie 1945-1989 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007) pp. 121, 129, and 133.) However it wasn’t … Read more
Category: Online Articles
Was Australian art ever provincial? A RESPONSE TO TERRY SMITH’S “THE PROVINCIALISM PROBLEM: THEN AND NOW” (ARTmargins 6, no. 1, February 2017, pp. 6-32)
The historical discourse is never ‘born’. It keeps starting anew. And art history also keeps starting anew. This always seems to happen when its purpose is deemed dead–while experiencing a rebirth at the same time.
–Georges Didi-Huberman(Georges Didi-Huberman, L’image survivante: Histoire de l’artet temps des fantômes selon Aby Warburg, originally published in French in 2002. It was translated into English in 2016 as The Surviving Image; Phantoms of Time and Time of Phantoms: Aby Warburg’s History of Art. Our quote is from the German Das Nachleben der Bilder: Kunstgeschicte und Phantomzeit nach Aby Warburg (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2010), … Read more
The global museum has been debated over a decade within the framework of critical museology and in the context of contemporary global art. The recent conference The Idea of the Global Museum (December 2-3, 2016), organized by the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Modern Art in Berlin as a part of its project Global Resonances and coordinated by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, offered a retrospective look at a variety of museum practices that critically embrace the notion of the global.
The discourse on the global museum has been part of a broader postcolonial investigation into the possibility of a global … Read more
Editors note: The following essay by Gwen Allen is Part 2 of a two-part essay devoted to critical art periodicals past and present. Part 1 appears in ARTMargins Print (#5.3, 2016), our Special Issue Art Periodicals Today, Historically Considered that extends across both ARTMargins platforms. Future articles will unfold in the coming weeks and include: “Have a Look: A Short History of Art Periodicals in Yugoslavia” by Darko Šimi?i? and “Art Periodicals in Eastern Europe: A Critical Survey.”
In “Art Periodicals and Contemporary Art Worlds, Part 1: An Historical Exploration” (published issue #5.3, 2016 of ARTMargins Print), I examine … Read more
We no longer think of archives as destinations for practices, or as media to be parsed and separated; we think of them as practice itself. Studying (in) the archive today no longer means the uncovering of the various archaeological layers that invisibly define the present, dividing it from itself. And in contemporary art, too, the archive does not equal knowledge understood as a destination. Rather, it is the name we give to a practice that takes as its departure point the combination, concatenation, reformatting, or rescaling of information that is archival to the extent that everything is.
What I call … Read more
It was with great shock and sadness that we learned of the passing of our dear friend, colleague, and collaborator Piotr Piotrowski. His groundbreaking contributions to the study of art from Eastern Europe, boundless energy, willingness to challenge entrenched views, desire to provoke discussion (no matter how uncomfortable), and his commitment to democracy and social justice distinguished him among his peers within the region and beyond. Piotr belonged to a post-war generation of Eastern European intellectuals who experienced life under communism first-hand and who later observed and participated in the often painful and unsteady transition to capitalism and democracy. His … Read more
Art and the Environment in East-Central Europe is an editorial project born from interviews and other forms of interaction with artists and cultural producers concerned, in one way or another, with the idea and the material reality of what goes by the name of the “natural environment.” In the different pieces collected within this project, the term “environment” unfolds into a broad variety of concepts and artistic practices that do not, and should not, become homogenized. A survey rather than a deep investigation, Art and the Environment in East-Central Europe covers a wide range of art and ideas connected to … Read more
The Silesian Beskids Landscape Park lies in the Beskids Mountains, a part of the Outer Western Carpathians in Southern Silesia. The park, together with adjoining lands, has been incorporated into the Eastern Carpathians International Biosphere Reserve, which overlaps the convergent borders of Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The area’s biodiversity includes meadows with a number of rare Eastern Carpathian plants, bear, wolf, red deer, lynx and over 150 species of birds. The native beech trees were logged in the nineteenth century, followed by the logging of spruce, which grew much faster and, thus, became preferred by the lumber industry. … Read more
An important figure in contemporary Czech and Slovak Art, Jana Želibská has been creating art since the mid-1960s. Working in printmaking, drawing, painting, assembelage, installation, video and performance, Želibská is a significant representative of action art in Central Europe. Her primary themes are the exploration of female identity, the connection of feminity to nature, and humanity’s relationship to earth, including references to ecology. In 2012, a major retrospective of Želibská’s work was held at the Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava.
While many female Central European artists working in the latter half of the twentieth century were creating self-reflective or autobiographical work, … Read more
In 2004, Barbara Benish founded the NGO Art Dialogue, which, among other things, supports programs and a farm at ArtMill, a renovated flourmill and granary from the 17th century located in the forested countryside bordering Šumava National Park (one of the largest remaining greenbelts in Europe). Positioned on a lake, ArtMill has become an international destination for artists, scientists, environmentalists, writers and students of all ages to study, collaborate and create. The rural property consists of living quarters, renovated studio structures, barns, outdoor workspaces and organic gardens. This text is adapted from conversations between Benish and Janeil Engelstad between 2012 … Read more
Budapest Farmer’s Hack is a project developed in 2013 by Attila Nemes and Péter Eszes for OS Kantine, a media lab that focuses on open systems, open knowledge and the effort to build sustainable, community based models, while supporting other groups engaged in the same work. The trial project included the reclaiming of unused community gardens where plant needs, water, light, and nutrients were monitored by sensors that fed information into a digital network, which made the labor spent on taking care of the garden more productive. The text below is adapted from a conversation with Attila Nemes.
Through Budapest … Read more
If I Had a River is an exploration of what it means to live a sustainable life; in this case, on a boat that Slovak artist Oto Hudec constructed with all of the necessary provisions and a functioning garden for living independently at sea.
My thinking about this project started roughly four years ago with a simple drawing of a boat hosting a garden of edible plants. The drawing felt like the best illustration of my dream of a utopian model for living. A boat is a closed space with very defined borders. As my idea was to make life … Read more
Since 2006, Matej Vakula has researched and documented the increased surveillance and politicization of public space throughout the globe, from Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic to Boston and New York City. Observing how public space serves the interests of the public less and less, and how spaces that were once public are now claimed and held by private and government factions, Vakula was inspired to create Manuals for Public Space (MfPS). Rooted in open-source philosophy, MfPS is a participatory multi-platform project (based in Brooklyn and Slovakia) that includes interventions, an interactive blog and website, and printed manuals that outline … Read more
At the 2007 Venice Biennale, and for the first time in the history of the event, art works produced by Romani artists were displayed in the Roma Pavilion. The exhibition for the first Roma Pavilion, entitled Paradise Lost, was curated by cultural activist and art historian Timea Junghaus. Contemporary artists of Roma descent had the chance to engage artistically and politically with their own identity concerns. Junghaus clearly states in the exhibition catalogue: “a new generation of Roma intellectuals and artists is emerging; along with a new Roma consciousness…The Roma Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will be the first, internationally … Read more
Open Letter from the Art Workers’ Self-Defense Initiative to the Ukrainian and International Art Community
Open Letter from the Art Workers’ Self-Defense Initiative to the Ukrainian and International Art Community(The Art Workers’ Self-Defense Initiative was established in Kyiv in 2012 to monitor and influence common practices in Ukraine’s cultural sphere, especially regarding the transparency and legality of institution–artist relations and the fair compensation of artistic labor.)
We are calling for a boycott of Mystetskyi Arsenal and all of its affiliate organizations in response to the situation surrounding the exhibition Great and Grand, which became part of the celebration of the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Kyivan Rus (July 26-28, 2013).(Mystetskyi … Read more
SubREAL During the 1990s: Ironic Monuments, Tainted Blood, and Vampiric Realism in a Time of Transition
During the 1990s the subREAL group(subREAL was founded in April 1990 by Calin Dan and Dan Mih?l?ianu. Iosif Király joined the group in February 1991. In August 1993 Dan Mih?l?ianu left subREAL, which operates since as an artist-duo.) – the first of its kind from Romania to operate in an international context after 1989 – investigated the culture of late-communist Romania and the subsequent period of (post-1989) transition, with its turn to a more or less unbridled form of liberal capitalism and the establishment of democratic institutions that continued to be dominated by the old elites. In their … Read more
Jan Tichy (Czech, b. 1974) is a Chicago-based artist who works at the intersection of multiple media. Central to his practice is the use of video projection as a time-based source of light as well as modernist photographic histories that serve as both formal inspiration and conceptual lens for exploring contemporary sites. His recent project 1979:1-2012:21: Jan Tichy Works with the MoCP Collection was on view at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, October 12- December 23, 2012 (http://www.mocp.org/exhibitions).
At the core of Jan Tichy’s multimedia practice is an investigation of the protean and plastic properties of light, an exploration … Read more
Landscape photography plays a crucial role in portraying the social and political order. As early as 1936, Walter Benjamin saw a critical potential of this genre. He compares photographs by Eugene Atget to pictures taken at crimes scenes: “A crime scene, too, is deserted; it is photographed for the purpose of establishing evidence. With Atget, photographic records begin to be evidence in the historical trial [Prozess]. This constitutes their hidden political significance.”Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Second Version , in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, vol. 3, 1935-1938 (Harvard University Press, 2002), … Read more
TACTICS FOR THE HERE AND NOW: THE 5TH INTERNATIONAL BUCHAREST BIENNIAL FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, VARIOUS LOCATIONS, MAY 25 – JULY 22, 2012
How can an art biennale take a renewed critical stance towards its own immersion in the production of cognition, and in the effects of accelerated semiocapitalism, or the capitalization of linguistic labor (to which the critical discourse of contemporary art certainly belongs)?Franco Berardi Bifo, Precarious Rhapsody. Semiocapitalism and the Pathologies of the Post-Alpha Generation (Minor Compositions, London), 2009, pp. 44-49. Tackling the broad topic of the precariousness of contemporary living – or radical instability, loosely defined in … Read more
OSTALGIA, THE NEW MUSEUM, NEW YORK, JULY 6 – OCTOBER 2, 2011
Slavenka Drakuli?, How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed
When choosing a radically new project or goal, people can modify their past, making it interesting and enjoyable.(Artis Svece, “Augu seka un pag?tnes estetiz?šana = Crop Rotation and the Aestheticization of … Read more
“Even the automobiles have an air of antiquity here”. — Guillaume Apollinaire
“Only here”, Chirico once said, “is it possible to paint. The streets have such gradation of gray.” — Walter Benjamin
Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia at the moment undergoes one of Europe’s biggest urban and art upheavals – the project is dubbed Skopje 2014. Labeled as a “building bonanza”,(Smith, Helena. “Macedonian statue: Alexander the Great or a Warrior on a Horse?”, Guardian, 14 August 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/14/alexander-great-macedonia-warrior-horse) by the British Guardian, Skopje 2014 project was planned by the Government for several … Read more
Ostalgia, The New Museum, New York, July 14-October 2, 2011
Nostalgia has many guises – homesickness, yearning, desire, melancholia. Susan Stewart defines nostalgia as a “social disease,” a “sadness without an object,” a narrative that is fundamentally ideological. “Hostile to history and its invisible origins . . . ,” she argues, “nostalgia wears a distinctly utopian face, a face that turns toward a future-past, a past which has only ideological reality.”(Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1984), 23.) Walter Benjamin wrote about Leftist … Read more
REARVIEW MIRROR: NEW ART FROM CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, THE POWER PLANT, TORONTO, JULY 1, 2011 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2011; THE ART GALLERY OF ALBERTA, EDMONTON, JANUARY 28, 2012 – APRIL 29, 2012
Identificatory scenarios abound in Rearview Mirror: New Art from Central and Eastern Europe, which is co-produced by The Power Plant Art Gallery in Toronto and the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. As the site of a subject’s first encounter with their own image as Other, the mirror appears in both literal and figurative guise in a number of the works on display here. And yet the … Read more
Preparing for my first time back in Romania after 7 years I was filled with a certain anxiety: those stray dogs I remembered wandering the streets in packs, the beggars on every street corner, the guilt one feels for being a “privileged foreigner” amidst all the poverty and misery.
And yet my one week stay, undertaken thanks to a grant from the Romanian Cultural Institute, was filled with surprises: on the surface at least everything looked like a county on the cusp of change. Bucharest was vibrant and alive with an amazing energy, and specifically the art scene was in … Read more
Throughout the past two years and in three consecutive exhibitions the Budapest Ludwig Museum has displayed parts of its collection, with an accent on recently acquired or rarely seen artworks. The show Kind of Change, which ran between March and May 2011, offered pieces purchased by or donated to the Ludwig between 2009-2011. The museum’s board selected works by Hungarian artists who have already entered the national canon of contemporary art, or who have made a name for themselves internationally, as well as works by a younger generation of East-Central European artists who are anticipated to become household names on … Read more
As expressed in this special issue, since the political changes of 1989 and Hungary’s subsequent membership in the EU, there has been a significant transformation of the country’s cultural atmosphere, avenues of discourse and forums for artistic expression. The diversity of the articles appearing in this ARTMargins Hungary Focus issue are indicative of this reshaping of the cultural environment. Yet in contrast to this transformation, in July of 2010 the Hungarian parliament established the National Media and Communications Authority; on December 21st a national Media Council was established. At the beginning of 2011 the laws resulting from this legislation came … Read more
The Erika Deák gallery was founded in 1998. Before this, Erika Deák lived in the United States for almost a decade. She graduated from Temple University, Philadelphia, and was working in several art galleries in New York City, while writing for different art magazines.
After moving back to Budapest in 1998 she opened her gallery in a small apartment on the third floor of a residential building in Buda. It was one of the first commercial galleries in Budapest. The first exhibit was a collaboration with the Ludwig Museum, Budapest. While the museum exhibited the large-scale installation works of Spanish … Read more
A filmmaker, visual media artist, writer, teacher, curator and co-editor of ARTMargins, Allan Siegel has been involved in the experimental film movement and is one of the founding members of the documentary film collective Newsreel. He has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has exhibited work in New York, Chicago, London, Montreal, Pécs and Budapest, and is currently a lecturer in the Intermedia Department at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts.
In Hungary, prior to the political changes of 1989 (and then still for a good number of years afterwards) the practical opportunities for … Read more
Critical art practices (once also labeled avant-garde) have been playing out their death throes ever more dramatically in recent years.(For a historical and theoretical reconstruction of the death throes of avant-garde art in the 20th century, cf.: Paul Mann, Theory-Death of the Avant-Garde (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991).) On the one hand, this might be so precisely because more and more artists, curators, and collectors have taken an interest in them; but on the other hand, if they do die out definitively, then the real danger exists that there will be no alternative at all to global techno-capitalism … Read more
Participatory art projects are not common in the Hungarian visual art scene. If we see this kind of artistic activity as having something to do with social engagement, it might be easier to understand its rarity. After a rising interest at the turn of the century, only a few artists have continued to develop socially engaged projects in the past few years. The art scene is not receptive to self-restricting artistic activity and autonomy.(See texts on some art collectives of the 1980s and 1990s (the Újlak Group, Szürenon, INDIGO etc. in IMPEX: We Are Not Ducks on The Pond … Read more