Category: Exhibition Reviews

Red Discussion 2

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

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

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 at Wallach Art Gallery

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 at District Berlin

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

View of the exhibition

Karol Radziszewski: Queer Archives Institute at Berlin’s Gay Museum

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: Gabriele Stötzer’s Archive at Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

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

Eastern European Pavilions at this Year’s Venice Biennale: Parsing the Contemporary

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.

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Queer Abstraction at Des Moines Art Center

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

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Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell at the National Museum of Mexican Art

Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, March 22 – August 18, 2019

Artist Laura Aguilar died of kidney failure in April 2018, shortly after her career retrospective, Show and Tell, closed at the Vincent Price Museum just outside Los Angeles. She was 59 years old. As writers and fellow artists mourned the loss, biographical references proliferated. Aguilar was obese, an auditory dyslexic, clinically depressed, Latina, mostly poor, the daughter of mixed Mexican-European-indigenous parents, a lesbian. With her photographic work, she was a champion for marginalized communities and bodies rendered invisible by mainstream art and visual … Read more

Wild Recuperations: Material from Below and D’EST, Chapter 6: ReTopia at District Berlin

WILDES WIEDERHOLEN. MATERIAL VON UNTEN ARCHIVE OF GDR OPPOSITION, HAUS 22 STASIZENTRALE AND DISTRICT BERLIN, NOVEMBER 4 – DECEMBER 16, 2018.

 D’EST SCREENING, CHAPTER 6: RETOPIA, HAUS 22 STASIZENTRALE, BERLIN , DECEMBER 15, 2018

Attempts to establish contemporary archives must always contend with dominant history and ideology. Wild Recuperations. Material from Below, a six-week-long exhibition that took place at District Berlin and the Archive of the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) Opposition in late 2018 and continues today as an ongoing artistic research project, positions itself firmly against the ossification of objectified knowledge by introducing an artistic and affective approach to … Read more

Black and white image of two people in front of a wall. The person on the left has a ladder.

The Intermedial Scattering of the Aura

Poetry & Performance: The Eastern European Perspective, Shedhalle, Zurich, August 16–October 28, 2018

The center of the spacious exhibition hall of Zurich’s Shedhalle was empty. Tomáš Glanc and Sabine Hänsgen, curators of the exhibition Poetry & Performance: The Eastern European Perspective,(Curated by Tomáš Glanc and Sabine Hänsgen, in corporation with Dubravka Djurić, Emese Kürti, Claus Löser, Pavel Novotný, Branka Stipančić, Darko Šimičić, Mara Traumane) purposefully arranged the exhibition’s artworks in a circular progression enclosing this empty center, and with the following sections: Writing-Reading-Performance; Audio Gestures; Interventions in Public Space; Body Poetry; Cinematographic Poetry; and Language Games. The device … Read more

Years of Disarray 1908-1928 at Olomouc Museum of Art

Years of Disarray 1908-1928. Avant-gardes in Central Europe, Olomouc Museum of Art, Olomouc (CZ), September 21, 2018–January 27, 2019

Among the proliferation of First World War related exhibitions of recent years, several have been devoted to the historical avant-garde, a label attached to numerous artistic movements that formed before and during the war. (This review was written as a part of the research project of the Petőfi Literary Museum–Kassák Museum under a grant from the National Office of Research, Development and Innovation, Project-No. NKFIH, K-120779, “The Avant-Garde Periodicals of Lajos Kassák from an Interdisciplinary Perspective (1915–1928).”) The travelling … Read more

Painting of a ship in the background with a beach and figures in the foreground.

Edi Hila: To Paint in the Eye of a Storm

Edi Hila: Painter of Transformation, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw,  March 2-May 6, 2018

Since its foundation in 2005, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw has been engaged in an intellectually challenging attempt to reevaluate the artistic practice of several artists from post-war Eastern Europe whose works have so far mostly escaped under the radar of major Western art institutions. Shows by such artists as Andrzej Wróblewski, Ion Grigorescu, Alina Szapocznikow, Július Koller, Mária Bartuszová, among others, strived to move beyond the usual Cold War-era binaries of East and West, communism and capitalism, in order to show a more … Read more

Two cases with prints inside.

Utopia Revisited: Malevich, Chagall, and Lissitzky at the Jewish Museum

A silent video of Vladimir Lenin speaking enthusiastically to Russian crowds greets the visitors of the Jewish Museum’s second floor. We hear no words, but Lenin appears victorious; the footage, we assume, must have been filmed after April 1917, when the exiled leader had just been clandestinely brought back from Switzerland onboard a German train. In the following months, Lenin would successfully lead a revolution that overthrew the tsarist regime and ventured to turn Russia into a communist state. And while it only took a few years for this sense of communist idealism to be swiftly replaced by an authoritarian … Read more

Two items on pedestals in front of TV screens

Aria Mineralia

Larisa Crunțeanu, Aria Mineralia Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw, October 20 – December 2, 2018.

For her exhibition Aria Mineralia at Zachęta Project Room, Larisa Crunțeanu, a Romanian-born, Warsaw-based artist and curator, has created a sound-based installation along with accompanying ceramics, neon, costumes, and video works that all address notions of camouflaging as an activity of playful subversion.(Aria Mineralia at Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw, is part of the cultural project F vs F, produced by Copia Originala Association and co-funded by the National Cultural Administration Fund, Romania. Partner of the exhibition: Anca Poterasu Gallery.) The title Aria Mineralia refers … Read more

Photograph of a house with drawing of grass and a pasture with animals around it.

Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980

Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980, Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 15, 2018 –January, 13 2019

New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) recently provided a stage for a vital – and very much on-trend – examination of the brutalist, socialist architecture of the former Yugoslavia, exhibited under the title Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980. Structured around a set of thematic and biographical sequences, this momentous survey of socialist architecture brought together more than 400 drawings, models, photographs and video installations from a wide range of private and institutional archives across the former … Read more

Images framed on a wall. First is of an astronaut.

Between Heaven and Earth: Himl un Erd (Yiddish Cosmos)

Yevgeniy Fiks, Heaven and Earth: Yiddish Cosmos, Stanton Street Shul, New York, November 18–December 16, 2018.

The Soviet Space Age visual project conjures familiar images of charismatic and triumphant cosmonauts, rockets, courageous animals, and dazzling, mysterious planets, all under the banner of the Red Star. During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and its eternal rival, the United States, mounted sophisticated political projects using the visual arts to promote their own version of a utopian, innovative future and even laid claims to conquering and colonizing outerspace. Today, these efforts have been by and large historicized and the propaganda machine … Read more

Postcards displayed on a pedestal.

Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.

Hunter College Art Galleries, June 21–August 19, 2018

In 1970, the influential Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz created a series of minimalist collages. Superimposing select magazine cutouts—including pornographic images of women, male physique models, and animals—over a piece of grid paper, Almaraz disrupted the structure of the ordered field while using the grid to visually connect disparate images across the picture plane. Exhibited as part of Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A. at the Hunter College Art Galleries in New York, Almaraz’s gridded collages convey some of the show’s most vital concepts: they defy a narrative centered on a singular … Read more

Black viewfinder with photograph behind.

Riots: Slow Cancellation of the Future

Riots: Slow Cancellation of the Future, ifa-Galerie, Berlin, January 26 – April 2, 2018

In March 2018, with scorching temperatures of the Indian summer peaking, tens of thousands of farmers descended on Mumbai. Despite walking for six days, they waited to enter the city at midnight on their way to the state legislature building, so as not to disrupt traffic. It was an unusual scene: red flags with hammer and sickle, red caps and bloodied bare feet pressed a panorama of revolutionary icons into the empty nocturnal roads of one of the most densely populated urban sprawls in the world. … Read more

Two tvs on pedestals against a black wall

Serbian Video Art in Focus: ARTTERROR—Fragments of Duality

ARTTERROR—Fragments of Duality, Belgrade Cultural Centre, April 5–May 3, 2018

The exhibition ARTTERROR – Fragments of Duality, on view at the gallery space Podroom of the Belgrade Cultural Centre, presented work by the Belgrade-based art association ARTTERROR created during the last few decades. However, as curator Vladimir Bjeličić and the artists themselves stated, the aim was not to show a retrospective of ARTTERROR’s work. Instead, Bjeličić noted that the exhibition should be “regarded as a specific installation or in situ reaction based on the critical self-reflection of this artist duo.”(See the leaflet accompanying the exhibition: Vladimir Bjeličić, ARTTERROR – Read more

cones of sugar with blue labels and ribbons

On Additives and Alterations: A Review of Ilona Németh’s Eastern Sugar

ILONA NÉMETH, EASTERN SUGAR, KUNSTHALLE BRATISLAVA, APRIL 13 – JULY 15, 2018

Seen in the shape of its mountains and the growth patterns of its aging population, the conical sugarloaf is often used to describe forms in Slovakia’s physical and social landscape.(Stephen Joseph Palickar, Slovakian Culture in the Light of History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern (MN: Hampshire Press, 1954), p. 53; Roy E. H. Mellor, Eastern Europe: A Geography of the Comecon Countries (London, UK: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1975), p. 115.) As a “body” with “weight…we can neither see nor touch,” the sugarloaf is also the object that … Read more

Sculpture of two moccasins on a pedestal in front of a brick wall.

Durable Remains: Indigenous Materialisms in Duane Linklater’s From Our Hands (ARTMARGINS Print 7.2)

Duane Linklater: From Our Hands, 80WSE Gallery, New York, December 8, 2016-February 18, 2017

Dismantling the walls of a gallery is already and always a political act, a metaphor for the literal deconstruction of white cube certainties. From Our Hands, the 2017 solo exhibition by Duane Linklater, an Omaskêko Cree artist from Northern Ontario, Canada, was performed partly in the spirit of institutional critique. The show had been made multiple by the inclusion of beadwork by his late grandmother, Ethel Linklater, and by an animated video by his then twelve-year-old son, Tobias Linklater.(Duane Linklater, Ethel Linklater, and Tobias Linklater, Read more

Sequences: Art of Yugoslavia and Serbia from the Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art

Sequences: Art of Yugoslavia and Serbia from the Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, October 2017 – June 2018

Following a decade-long renovation, the doors of the Belgrade Museum of Contemporary Art were finally thrown open again in October last year, attracting an eager audience to the debut exhibition, Sequences: Art of Yugoslavia and Serbia from the Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Showcasing some 300 works from the Museum’s collection, Sequences explores the trends and developments that shaped art across the former Yugoslavia throughout the 20th century. Through the exhibition, as Dejan … Read more

Poaster of woman holding flags. Russian writing around.

Revolution Redo

Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test, Art Institute of Chicago, October 29, 2017–January 14, 2018
Revolution Every Day, at the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, September 14, 2017–January 28, 2018

At a time when our own political moment has given rise to dangerous neoliberalism and right-wing nationalism across Europe and the United States, Revolutionary Russia of a century ago with its promise of social equality and transformation continues to seduce our imagination (at least in the former West), despite the ultimate failure of the Soviet project. This seduction fueled two recent shows in Chicago that marked the centennial … Read more

Russian Revolution: A Contested Legacy, 1917-2017

International Print Center, New York, October 12 – December 16, 2017

The centennial of the Russian Revolution has prompted a year long array of inter-disciplinary happenings re-examining the historical and political legacy of the 1917 watershed event. In New York alone, The Museum of Modern Art mounted a substantial collection-based exhibition titled A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde that amassed a plethora of paintings, print media, and films made between 1912 and 1935, Columbia University launched a series of Revolution-related conferences covering subjects ranging from political science to the history of Russian Jews, while The New York … Read more

Art and/as Radical Labor: We Wanted a Revolution at the Brooklyn Museum

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-85 at the Brooklyn Museum, April 21 – September 17, 2017.

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of Read more

Dreams & Drama. Law As Literature

Dreams&Dramas. Law as Literature at neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK), Berlin, March 10 – May 7, 2017

The exhibition Dreams&Dramas. Law as Literature at neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) in Berlin is the most recent in a spate of exhibitions and symposia to address law through art in the last five years. In 2013, the Persona Ficta exhibition at Bard Center for Curatorial Studies presented “formal spaces of law as vehicles for poetic political action,”(Persona Ficta, Bard CCS, 2013 http://www.bard.edu/ccs/persona-ficta/ (Retrieved July 30, 2017).) and Imagine the Law at FKSE Stúdió Galéria in Budapest (2013) … Read more

Sitting together. Parallel Chronologies of Coincidences in Eastern Europe

transit.sk, Bratislava, Slovakia – December 13, 2016 to February 25, 2017

A black and white photograph portrays a group of people in a natural environment like a meadow; they are eating and conversing while sitting in a circle. We can deduce from their garments and the hair in movement that the weather is fresh and windy. After a few seconds, we distinguish a small, dark-colored animal that is being pet by one of the participants. The animal is a lamb, a particular Ethiopian species borrowed from the zoo for this occasion; it is also the main character of this informal … Read more

Art in Europe 1945-1968: Facing the Future

Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, October 22, 2016—January 29, 2017

On January 29, 2017, the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe celebrated the successful conclusion of Art in Europe 1945-1968: Facing the Future, a major exhibition dedicated to European art after the Second World War. Showcasing some 500 artworks by more than 200 artists, the exhibition was the collaborative effort of the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels (BOZAR), the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM), and the Moscow State Museum Exhibition Center (ROSIZO), and Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. After stints in Brussels and Karlsruhe, the … Read more