Category: Online Articles

The Editors About Hungary’s New Media Law

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

Snapshot: Erika Deák Gallery, Budapest (Article)

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

Shifting Perspectives on Curatorship (Article)


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

Aesthetics and Politics: Critical Art in Hungary Today (Article)

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 Practices in Hungarian Contemporary Art (Article)

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

Notes for a Budapest Museum Master Plan (Article)

Similar to the country’s system of cultural institutions, the Hungarian museum system is bloated. Budapest is the cultural center of the country, as anything outside its limits is still referred to as provincial. The country’s major art museums with their most important exhibitions, large art schools, journals, artists, and the richest collections are all situated in the capital.

The most serious attempt to decentralize the museum system dates back to before the political transition. However, this was not a once-and-for-all resolution, since the upgrading of rural locations outside of Budapest was actually a project in the works intermittently from the … Read more

A Short Guide to Hungary’s Contemporary Art Scene (Article)


The two most weighty Hungarian contemporary art institutions, M?csarnok (Kunsthalle) and the Ludwig Museum Budapest have gone through significant changes during the last couple of years, in terms of both  their institutional structures and exhibition policies. M?csarnok-founded in 1877, opened in 1896, and still utilizing its original exhibition space-follows the model of the German Kunsthallen. Since 2007, after a long period as a state funded institution, it has been a non-profit, limited liability company with two external exhibition spaces; the Ernst Museum and the Dorottya Gallery (director, Zsolt Petrányi since 2006).

The Ludwig Museum, officially founded in 1996, but … Read more

Domestic Strategies by Women in Contemporary Hungarian Art (Article)

“Where are the women artists of Venice?” asked the Guerilla Girls in 2005. After investigating the ratio of woman artists exhibited in the most famous Venetian museum collections, they concluded that they are “underneath the men.” They communicated this in a humorous way on one of their posters exhibited at the Venice Biennale, placed above the following data: “of more than 1,238 artworks currently on view inthe major museums of Venice, fewer than 40 are by women.” Even earlier, the Guerilla Girls concluded that the situation in Europe is worse than in the United States (“It’s even worse in Europe,” … Read more

Suspended Belief: On Art and Memory in Hungary

In 2007, at the Venice Biennial, Andreas Fogarasi’s Kultur und Freizeit (curated by Katalin Timár) received the Golden Lion award for the best national pavilion. The work dealt with the socialist cultural houses and remnants of socialism in a video installation. Fogarasi is Hungarian, based in Vienna and in his early thirties. According to a logic typical of secondary memory or “post-memory”, this young artist “remembered” something of which he had little or no first-hand experience, partly because of his age and partly because of his location, geographically close but mentally far from socialist Hungary.

According to Piotr Piotrowski , … Read more

Contemporary East European Art in the Era of Globalization: From Identity Politics to Cosmopolitan Solidarity (Articles)

With integration in the globalized art world, the ever-elusive notion of contemporary East European art is today becoming increasingly intangible and diverse. These changed circumstances are reflected in the East European art scene which now includes artists that are not necessarily based in their native countries, but may still work with the legacy of shared histories and experiences; artists living in the region but working internationally without the burden of their own socio-political past; as well as non-native artists who work either in collectives or individually and who have settled in the capitals of the former Eastern Bloc, or simply … Read more

Impressions from the 4th Bucharest Biennale (Article)

The Bucharest Biennale runs until July 25th at various venues in Bucharest, and with a series of parallel events in Stockholm (3 June to 24 September). For details go to

I arrived at Bucharest’s retro-communist, chaotic airport the day when there were large demonstrations in the streets of Romania’s capital. Most of the demonstrators were over 60, and they were protesting against the cuts of their state-pensions.  It is a mystery where the money sent to Romania by the IMF has gone.  It’s not a mystery, however, to the locals on the Crânga?i tram: “Este putrezire,” they shrug, … Read more

Flashmob – the Divide Between Art and Politics in Belarus (Long version/Articles)


This article represents a (drastically) revised version of a text(Альмира Усманова «Белорусский détournement, или искусство обходного маневра как политика» // Топос, # 13 (2/2006), сс.91 – 127.)* originally published in 2006 in a special volume of the academic journal of philosophy and cultural theory, Topos.(The journal was launched in 2000 and is published by European Humanities University in Vilnius. See the archive of the journal: The entire volume, entitled “Choice and Elections,” was dedicated to the phenomenon of political (non)participation in contemporary Belarus, or more precisely, to the paradox of the political … Read more

The Artist is Present: Marina Abramović at MoMA (Review Article)


If in the early stages of her career Marina Abramović’s work gained much of its magnetic allure from its spontaneity and ephemerality, in recent years the artist has shown a heightened interest in the problem of how performance art – whose essential medium is time – can be preserved. Recognizing the calamity, the artist recently established the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art in Hudson, N.Y., near where she has a home (the Institute is scheduled to open in 2012). The … Read more

Performatism in Contemporary Photography: Alina Kisina (Series “New Critical Approaches”) (Article)

Most people in the art world by now have some sort of intuitive understanding that postmodernism is being replaced by something new, but few have tried to define what that “newness” is in a binding way.  One of the few recent attempts of this kind was made by Nicolas Bourriaud while curating an exhibition called Altermodernism at the Tate Triennial in early 2009. Bourriaud suggests that the new post-postmodern art is the “positive experience of disorientation through an art-form exploring all dimensions of the present, tracing lines in all directions of time and space.” In his view, the artists involved … Read more

Dispatch from Sofia (Article)

With the gas light blinking empty the taxi headed towards Sofia. The driver offered me another cigarette after I had extinguished one to get in the cab. “Are you German?” “No American.” I replied. He wagged his finger smiling saying “Monica Lewinsky! Bill Clinton!” I laughed and thought about how wonderful it would be if cultural memory had no recollection of the Bush years. The Balkan mountain range that cradles Sofia loomed ahead.

“Everything is happening for the first time here. It’s the second time which is the challenge,” said the Russian-born Iara Boubnova, co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary … Read more

Flashmob – the Divide Between Art and Politics in Belarus (Articles)

These reflections were initially intended as a translation in short form of a text I published in 2006, in a special volume of the journal Topos.(The journal was launched in 2000 and is published by European Humanities University in Vilnius. See the archive of the journal: The entire volume, entitled Choice and Elections, was dedicated to the phenomenon of political (non)participation in contemporary Belarus; or, more precisely, to the paradox of the political indifference of Belarusian citizens in the course of the presidential elections of 2006.

The guiding idea behind that issue of ToposRead more

Peter McCarthy (Sydney)

The Wall at once became the leitmotif of a marginalist disposition in Western Europe and a breath of life into the progressive de-Stalinization of cultural production in Eastern Europe. Culture was being produced—conveniently on both political sides—at the margin evinced now by each side, as the symptom of a confounding contradiction between an existential homeland and the margins of that very homeland. The post-Stalinist era in Eastern Europe was already bringing a degree of artistic freedom as new—if largely formalist—developments in creative media were expanding the Weltanshauung of the Eastern Bloc and certain cultural quarters of the West were looking … Read more

A Short Guide to Contemporary Art in Slovenia (“Short Guide Series”) (Article)

I was invited to write an essay that would shed some light on the conditions of art production in Slovenia. Despite the “objective” logic that such a request implies, to somehow synthesize the views on the state and process of art production in a country, I cannot avoidapproaching the topic from a very personal point of view, as I am myself involved in many of the issues and stakes that comprise the contemporary art scene of Slovenia.

I am the editor-in-chief of Maska, a performing arts journal published by a private organization that is struggling to survive in the … Read more

Andrey Kuzkin, Conceptualist Son (Series “New Critical Approaches”) (Article)

It does not take more than a fleeting glance at much of contemporary art practice to realize that Conceptual art is still with us. The similarities go beyond stylistic continuity. Conceptual art’s concern with fundamental questions of artistic meaning and interpretation has endowed art with an awareness of its own conditions and its relationship with a wide range of social life. Indeed, most art today is indebted to the efforts of Conceptual artists in the 1960s for breaking the spell of Greenbergian modernism and opening up a wider range of issues than had previously been accepted.

Russia experienced its own … Read more

Bogoslav Kalaš: the Ghost in the (Painting-) Machine (Article)

My reaction to the work of Bogoslav Kalaš when I first encountered it in the summer of 2009 at Ljubljana’s Galerija Gregor Podnar was mixed and unusual; I wanted to dislike it, but could not. The show focused on Kalaš’s nudes, dating from 1971 to the present, and, being a skeptic, I had to wonder whether the world really needed–then or now–more paintings of naked women draped over furniture. Yet the sheer strangeness of the artist’s practice was too strong a draw. The orchestrated dissonance of the images, which are as layered conceptually as they are physically, was a treat … Read more

The Reopened National Gallery of Art in Vilnius (Article)

My studies of the history of 20th century Lithuanian art were based on reproductions. The rest of my generation and some of the preceding ones had no choice in the matter either; for almost 20 years, the closure of the permanent exposition of 20th century works in Vilnius’ Town Hall made it impossible for younger generations to get acquainted with the country’s art classics directly. It was only on June 20, 2009 that the National Gallery of Art (NGA) reopened, in the building of the former Museum of Revolution in Vilnius, finally providing an opportunity to see the works that … Read more

Contemporary Histories: The 2009 International Competition for Curatorship in Ukraine (Article)

What is the creative potential of a situation where old conservative institutional practice meets new energy and ideas? Can we begin to value the living qualities of art stored in traditional museums by animating it with new points of view?

2009 saw the realization of eight curatorial projects that position contemporary art in the context of traditional Ukrainian museums. These projects were among the finalists selected by international jury in the competition “Art a priori: Contemporary Histories” sponsored by the EIDOS Arts Development Foundation. The competition was initiated in response to a visible need for Ukrainian contemporary art to address … Read more

Moscow Diary: What to Make of this Year’s Biennale (Article)

Three things are clear from the 3rd Moscow Biennale. Firstly, different countries have different standards. The international art community, on the one hand, content with the sense that Martin has little left to add to his place in the history books – and, indeed, that the biennial format per se may already have exhausted itself – met it with almost complete indifference.

Foreign guests were in the low dozens. Coming straight after the Istanbul and Lyon biennials, Moscow passed through the press almost without mention. But in Russia, Jean-Hubert Martin’s “Against Exclusion” met with almost universal rapture. Never before had … Read more

Tanja Ostojić’s Aesthetics of Affect and PostIdentity (Series “New Critical Approaches”) (Article)

The following is the first in a series of essays that explore new critical approaches to art from East-Central Europe.

Tanja Ostoji? is a contemporary Serbian artist who is no stranger to problems of identity. In her work she questions and challenges power relations and their permutations within the realms of politics, culture, and art. Ostoji?’s work spans more than ten years and encompasses a variety of artistic engagements, from performance works in which she covered her naked body with marble dust and stood in the middle of an art gallery, to works such as I’ll Be Your Angel in … Read more

Krzysztof Wodiczko at the Polish Pavillion in Venice (Review Essay)

“At the sound of breaking glass, Madame Bovary turned her head and glimpsed outside, close to the panes, peasant faces gazing in.” (G. Flaubert, Madame Bovary)

Absorbed by the party at the Marquis d’Andervilliers’s, Emma Bovary views this invasion by a number of uninvited guests as a little more than a tactless intrusion. At some point in Krzysztof Wodiczko’s projection at this year’s Venice Biennale we have to deal with a similar disturbance of the narcissistic adventure of looking. This happens in a sequence of images depicting migrant workers who are washing windows, with one of them pressing his face … Read more

FEINKOST, Berlin (“Series Young Galleries in Eastern Europe”)

ARTMargins continues its series on young galleries in Central and Eastern Europe.

FEINKOST is located in a ‘50s-era glass pavilion on the former border between East and West Berlin. Built in the style of a poor-man’s Neue Nationalegalerie, the building was, until the early Noughties, a Feinkost, or “delicatessen.” In 2007 Mette Ravnkilde Nielsen and I started the gallery. Since that time its program has consisted of solo shows and group exhibitions that investigate the use-value of art in society and culture, taking into consideration the kind of lofty epistemological criteria that have ultimately been lost in the … Read more

A Short Guide to Contemporary Art in Ukraine (“Short Guide Series”)

ARTMargins begins a series of concise introductions to the developing art scenes of East-Central Europe.

Last May an exhibition titled Pohlyady (Views) that highlighted the confluence of art and politics was organized by HudRada (Arts Council) at the Center for Contemporary Art in Kyiv. HudRada is a group of Ukrainian artists, architects, translators and political activists; many members of the Ukrainian contemporary art community participate in its internet-based discourse. HudRada has wide-ranging aims, which include self-education through communication as well as creating exhibitions and other consciousness-raising events. Without the hierarchical management of a single curator, the members of HudRada collaborated … Read more

A Fascist in Our Midst: Alexey Belayev-Guintovt and the Kandinsky Prize Scandal

The few hundred practitioners and enthusiasts of Contemporary Russian art like to think of it as a collective activity. With talk of “our art, our artists, our pavilion in Venice,” the myopic and occasionally Lilliputian Moscow scene exhibits unusual solidarity when it comes to fighting for a place under the sun.  But last December, when amid cries of “Disgrace!” and accusations of fascism, ultranationalist painter Alexey Belyaev-Guintovt beat out Sots Art legend Boris Orlov and Marxist Dmitry Gutov to win the 2008 Kandinsky Prize, a deep, bitter division broke ranks from within, and the word “them” added itself to the … Read more

Warsaw’s Foksal Gallery 1966-72: Between PLACE and Archive

On January 21, 1967, Tadeusz Kantor(This text embraces fragments of my previously published essays: “Pulsating of the Space. Tadeusz Kantor and the economy of the Impossible,” in Jaros?aw Suchan, ed., Tadeusz Kantor. Impossible (Kraków: Bunkier Sztuki, 2000), 27-42; “Experiences of Discourse. Polish Conceptual Art from 1965-1975,” in Pawe? Polit, Piotr Wo?niakiewicz, eds., Conceptual Reflection in Polish Art. Experiences of Discourse 1965-1975, exh. cat. (Warszawa: Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, 2000); “’Aneantisations’ and Matrices of Death. On Zero-Tendency in Tadeusz Kantor’s Art”, in Tadeusz Kantor. Interior of Imagination, exh. cat. (Warszawa: Zach?ta Gallery, 2005); Unbearable Porosity of Read more

Flexibility Makes Our Existence Possible: The Contextual Art of Jan Świdziński

“Contextual Art as a pure sign, cleansed of stereotypes; a sign which is filled by the present reality.

“For the act of drinking a glass of water to become art, it has to be performed in the right place, at the right time, and in the right company.”
(Jan ?widzi?ski)

Jan ?widzi?ski – an artist initially associated with conceptualism – wrote down his theses about contextual art in 1974. At that time, Polish artists were increasingly visiting the West, participating in international exhibitions, projects, or symposiums. Some, like Roman Opa?ka, became spectacularly successful, firing up their compatriots’ imagination. Many renowned … Read more