Category: Exhibition Reviews

Journey to the East (Exhibition Review)

Journey to the East, Galeria Arsenal in Bia?ystok, August 5-September 30, 2011

The Journey to the East opened on August 5 (until September 30) at the Galeria Arsenal in Bia?ystok, Poland. Curated by Monika Szewczyk, along with a team of local curators from the countries featured in the exhibition – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Poland – the comprehensive show featured artworks filling two gallery spaces, objects in the public space of Bia?ystok, performances and a day-long conference. The project is being realized within the Cultural Program of the Polish EU Presidency in 2011, and will travel later … Read more

Yael Bartana Screening at Gene Siskel Film Center (SAIC)

Conversations at the Edge, Gene Siskel Film Center (SAIC), Chicago, March 4 – April 14, 2011.

Yael Bartana, known for her politically charged films and videos that explore Israeli culture and Jewish identity, will represent Poland at the 54th Biennale of Art in Venice, the first artist of non-Polish nationality to do so. Her project, and Europe will be stunned, co-curated by Sebastian Cichocki and Galit Eilat, “calls” for the return of Jews to Poland and the rebuilding of a multicultural society, as explored in her previous films Mary Koszmary/Nightmares (2007) and Mur I Wieza/Wall and Tower (2009). The … Read more

“ЯКЩО / ЕСЛИ / IF”, PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art (Exhib. Review)

“???? / ???? / IF”, PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art, May 21 – July 10, 2010

The presentation of Ukrainian contemporary art in the exhibition ???? / ???? / IF at the PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art in Russia–the first such comprehensive display outside of Ukraine’s borders–appeared to be a political act. The initiative of the Moscow-based curator, Ekaterina Degot, raised immediate suspicions. How will a Russian curator, essentiallyan outsider, approach the task of showcasing Ukrainian art in her native country? How will the exhibition address the long and complicated shared history of the two neighboring countries? What are the … Read more

Manifesta 8 (Exhib. Review)

Manifesta 8, Murcia and Cartagena, Spain; 15 venues plus various channels of mass media, October 9, 2010–January 9, 2011
Curatorial collectives: Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum (ACAF), Chamber of Public Secrets (CPS), and tranzit.org

The memorable night party scene in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita was inspired by a real life event at the birthday party of a millionaire’s fiancé in a Trastevere restaurant. Anita Ekberg, one of the invited celebrities, kicked off her shoes and with her spaghetti straps hanging loose, performed an impassioned barefoot cha-cha. The year was 1958, so the gesture came across as audacious even for … Read more

Andrzej Wróblewski at the Van Abbemuseum (Exhib. Review)

Andrzej Wróblewski, To the Margin and Back, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, April 10 – August 15, 2010.

It is difficult to discuss Polish art after 1945 without taking into account the specific political context of the time. This is especially true about Andrzej Wróblewski’s work in Poland which is discussed, primarily, from a historical perspective of the war and its brutalities, or within the specific conditions of the post-war period in Poland. The exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the first international museum solo show, was an attempt at representing a new approach to Wróblewski’s work.

In her … Read more

Yevgeniy Fiks, Ayn Rand in Illustrations (Exhib. Review)

Yevgeniy Fiks, Ayn Rand in Illustrations, Winkleman Gallery, New York, June 18 – July 30, 2010

Yevgeniy Fiks’ project Ayn Rand in Illustrations combines two divergent ideological paradigms – Western Objectivism, as it is expressed in Atlas Shrugged (1957), a lengthy novel by American author and philosopher Ayn Rand, and Socialist Realism, an aesthetic dogma formulated in Soviet Russia under Stalin. Both converge on a new hybrid counter-image of modern history. Illustrations consist of a large number of book pages (even with the page numbers), each divided in two sections: a text with a fragment from Rand’s book, and an … Read more

Encounters in Relational Geography at Open Space, Vienna (Exhib Review)

Encounters in Relational Geography – Dust, Ashes, Residua, Open Space, Vienna, 2 June – 2 July 2010

The Viennese project art centre Open Space (http://openspace-zkp.org) created a profile for itself within a few years by showing the kind of art that is best described as “in between.” On the one hand, this was a conscious, strategic choice designed to make the most of the gulf that separates the mainstream from the alternative art scene, the center (Austria, Western Europe, North America) from the periphery (Eastern Europe). On the other hand, it could be seen as a strategy for … Read more

BB4 – The International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Bucharest (Exhib. Review)

The Fourth Edition of the International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, “Handlung – On Producing Possibilities,” various locations, May 21 – July 25, 2010.

Contrary to what might be expected from the concept of “biennale,” BB4  is a small-scale international group exhibition that differs significantly from the contemporary “blockbusters” in other cities. It unites thirty-seven artists by posing a conceptual question that addresses typical issues in Bucharest; namely architectural entropy, diversity, and lack of urban coherence, or the memory of communism, which is still very much alive in the collective conscience. The goal of the organizers is to create … Read more

Almagul Menlibayeva at Priska Juschka Fine Arts (Exhib. Review)

Almagul Menlibayeva, Daughters of Turan, Priska C. Juschka Fine Art, New York

Daughters of Turan is an exhibition of recent video and photographic work by Almagul Menlibayeva that introduces the viewer to the history and culture of the artist’s native Kazakhstan. Menlibayeva has cited video and performance artist Nezaket Ekici from Turkey as her one of the artists who have influenced her. Like Ekici Menlibayeva shows old rituals in contemporary interpretations. Instead of subverting tradition, Menlibayeva aims to demonstrate that the traditional and the modern (such as popular culture) can mutually enrich each other.

For Menlibaeava this is already her … Read more

Yevgeniy Fiks at Winkleman Gallery (Exhib. Review)

Yevgeniy Fiks, Ayn Rand in Illustrations, Winkleman Gallery, New York, June 18 – July 30, 2010

Over a long history, image and text have related in complicated ways. But one idea remains constant: that when placed in juxtaposition to each other, we expect important connections to be revealed.

In his exhibition at the Winkleman Gallery, Ayn Rand in Illustrations, Yevgeniy Fiks adds another layer of complexity to this relationship; as an émigré from a former anti-capitalist state (the Soviet Union), he has decided to confront the work of one of the most vehement capitalist populists. The fact that Rand was … Read more

The Seductiveness of the Interval at the Renaissance Society (Exhib. Review)

Stefan Constantinescu, Andrea Faciu, Ciprian Muresan, and studioBASAR. The Seductiveness of the Interval, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Co-organized with the Romanian Cultural Institute
Alina Serban, curator, May 2-June 27, 2010.

The interval, more than just an empty, liminal space, allows for a gooey, messy mélange of works that are at once sensuous, affective, and intimate, while pointing to the harsh realities of a world plagued by hope at the same time as despair. The artists featured in this exhibition are also stuck in an interval: they are old enough to have come of age during Communist … Read more

Gender Check at the Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (Exhib. Review)

Gender Check. Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, November 13, 2009 – February 14, 2010; Zach?ta, Warsaw, March 19, 2010 – June 13, 2010

Although the End of History thesis proposed by Francis Fukuyama was repeatedly and convincingly disavowed, the year 1989 nevertheless marked an end of an era in a multitude of ways. One of the issues that appeared from the changed political and intellectual situation in Europe was the need to juxtapose Western and Eastern narratives of art history. Although benefiting from the perspective of hindsight, contemporary art historical discourses don’t … Read more

Gaspard of the Night at the Center for Contemporary Art Futura, Prague (Exhib. Review)

Gaspard of the Night, The Center for Contemporary Art Futura, Prague. March 2, 2010-May 9, 2010.

What characterizes art in the 21st century? What is the role of meaning in art and what function does fantasy play in the current post-conceptual approach towards art? According to Václav Magid, curator of the Gaspard of the Night exhibition currently showing at the Center for Contemporary Art Futura in Prague, the past two decades have emphasized rationality, resulting in an overly descriptive tendency in contemporary art.  To resist this phenomenon, Magid applies two seemingly contradicting concepts/principles: the gothic and the grotesque. The grotesque … Read more

50% Grey: Contemporary Czech Photography Reconsidered at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (Exhib. Review)

50% Grey: Contemporary Czech Photography Reconsidered, Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago, January 29, 2010—March 28, 2010.

In 1999, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Piotr Piotrowski described the former East as “the grey zone of Europe.” “There is no doubt that the historico-geographical coordinates of Central Europe are in a state of flux,” he writes, “that we are experiencing both historical and geographical transformation, that we are between two different times, between two different spatial shapes.”(Piotr Piotrowski, “The Grey Zone of Europe,” After the Wall: Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe (Stockholm: Moderna Read more

Visual Tactics at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, September 2009-January 2010 (Exhib. Review)

Blickmaschinen oder wie Bilder entstehen. Zeitgenössische Künstler schauen auf die Sammlung Werner Nekes, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, September 2009-January 2010.

The curators of the Blickmaschinen exhibition attempt to answer the question of how the image of the world appears, how it manifests itself, and how it is received and interpreted. The issue of the ontological status of representation was virtually absent in the discourse of art history until the late 20th century. With the emergence of post- structuralism, however, a lively process of re-negotiating the status of representation began. James Elkins lists a few of the starting points … Read more

Blue Noses at Guelman, Moscow (Exhib. Review)

Blue Noses (Viacheslav Mizin and Alexander Shaburov), Proletarian Conceptualism, Guelman Gallery, Moscow, December 22, 2009 – January 21, 2010.

Russian art provocateurs Blue Noses continue to trick the audience by a mixture of satire, humor, and provocation in the new series of photographic prints, Proletarian Conceptualism, at the Gelman gallery, Moscow.

The duo’s photograph of two kissing policemen (An Epoch of Clemency, 2004)


banned by Russia’s culture minister from traveling to a scheduled show in Paris in 2007–pushed all the right buttons, revealing the hypocrisy of military morals and state censorship. In the new show, Blue Noses … Read more

The 4th International Baku Art Festival (Exhib. Review)

The 4th International Biennale of Contemporary Art “Alüminium,” Shirvanshah Palace, Baku, Azerbaijan, December 11-17, 2009.

The 4th International Baku Art festival opened among the vaults and minarets of the event’s main venue, the Shirvanshah Palace, one of a handful examples of fifteenth-century Islamic architecture.

Housed at multiple venues around the city, including the hulking former Museum of Lenin (now State Carpet Museum),the festival showcased works by 65 contemporary artists from Central Asia, Russia, Europe, and the United States.

Around the city of Baku, a battle has unfolded between desires to update past glory, or to enter the globalized world and … Read more

The 2009 Jindřich Chalupecký Award (Review)

Every year, the Czech art scene impatiently awaits five nominations for the final round of the Jind?ich Chalupecký award, open to young artists under the age of thirty-five. Although the prize is awarded for long term contributions to the Czech art scene, the final verdict depends more or less on new works that are exhibited in a show organized at the award event itself. This year, the exhibition was held at Dox, a center for contemporary art in Prague. The exhibition included works by Tomáš Džado? a Prague-based artist of Slovak origin, the art duo Ji?í Franta and David Böhm, … Read more

Communism Never Happened at Feinkost, Berlin (Review)

Communism Never Happened, Galerie Feinkost, Berlin. November 7, 2009 – December 20, 2009

For someone whose personal experience of communism does not go beyond its Cold War Hollywood runoffs, curating a show entitled Communism Never Happened might appear a bit out of range. But Aaron Moulton, the director of Feinkost Galerie in Berlin, doesn’t have much of a desire to talk about communism. “I don’t think that’s my job,” he says. “I’ve never even read any Marx.”

Opening the exhibition to correspond with the German capital’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, Moulton and his … Read more

Juraj Bartoš at the Slovak National Gallery (Review)

Juraj Bartoš. Slovak National Gallery at Esterházy Palace, Bratislava. October 1-November 22, 2009

An exhibit of photographs from artist Juraj Bartoš ran at the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava through past Fall. The 66 year old Slovak artist’s work is centered around Bratislava and is of particular interest to those familiar with that city. A mere moment at Bratislava’s Poštová tram stop is enough to recognize the origins of his pictures of Obchodná in the 1980’s. If you’ve attended a wine harvest festival (vinobranie), that experience alone will give you enough of a cultural feeling to place yourself … Read more

Polonia and other Fables: Allan Sekula At the Renaissance Society (Exhib. Review)

Allan Sekula, Polonia and Other Fables, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, September 20–December 13, 2009

“Polonia is the imaginary Poland that exists wherever there is a Pole,” writes Allan Sekula. “[It] is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”(Allan Sekula, Polonia and Other Fables, bound text accompanying exhibition of same title, np.) The forty photographs (30 chromogenic prints and 10 archival inkjet prints) that comprised the exhibition Polonia and Other Fables explore aspects of Polish identity that lie somewhere between reality and myth, between Poland and the Polish diaspora.

Sekula photographed the Polish community in Chicago during … Read more

The 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (Exhib. Review)

The 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Garage, Center for Contemporary Culture, September 24, 2009 – October 23, 2009

Over the last four years, Moscow’s audience has become accustomed to an extended range of international art exhibitions. These shows generally present a rather disorganized – often even misleading – view of current art production outside of Russia.  The 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, with its mixed bag of works drawn from other international exhibitions, was no exception. With some 80 artists represented – among them Anish Kapoor, El Anatsui, Wim Delvoye, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu – , visitors … Read more

Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts (Exhib. Review)

The 28th Biennial of Graphic Arts, International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC), Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 4, 2009 – October 25, 2009

The 24th Biennial of Graphic Arts (2001) was marked by important changes to the event’s concept and content. Specifically, it introduced the curatorial system and abolished the traditional understanding of graphic arts. This allowed the Ljubljana Biennial to catch up with current trends in the strongly diversified field of contemporary arts.  As a result, the Ljubljana Biennial was entirely open; the only criterion used was that the works represented be reproducible, which is of course an extremely flexible criterion.… Read more

“Performing the East” in Salzburg (Exhib. Review)

Performing The East – A Western Anniversary, Salzburger Kunstverein Salzburg. April 22, 2009 – June 23, 2009

An anniversary year for Eastern Europe, 2009 signals the lapse of a significant amount of time since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of the European space, formerly divided into two opposing “blocs.” Concerning the visual arts, the unification of these two cultural spaces entailed the rediscovery of Central and Eastern European art, with which the West had been unfamiliar. Until then, it was believed that this territory had remained outside time, isolated from international artistic events, but reality revealed … Read more

Alexander Ney at the National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow (Exhib. Review)

Alexander Ney. National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow. August 11 – 30, 2009

Alexander Ney left the Soviet Union in 1972. Now, to celebrate his 70th birthday and fifty years of artistic activity, the National Centre of Contemporary Art (NCCA) in Moscow organized a show featuring some of his pivotal works.

The show came at a stormy time for the NCCA, which is itself celebrating its 18th anniversary . At the final press conference  it was revealed that the NCCA building will increase its height to seven floors and that it will become the image and likeness of the Centre … Read more

David Ter-Oganyan at Marat Guelman (Exhib. Review)

David Ter-Oganyan, Black Geometry, Marat GUELMAN GALLERY, MOSCOW, JULY 8, 2009 – July 20, 2009


Over the last fifteen years, Moscow-based conceptual artist David Ter–Oganyan has developed a unique body of work including semi-abstract, formal paintings, drawings and objects that discretely comment on political issues. Ter-Oganyan’s concern with political engagement follows the practices of his father – the artist provocateur Avdey Ter-Oganyan who was banished from the former Soviet Union in 1998 for his notorious performance of chopping up Orthodox icons.

The Moscow show was organized around a core of nine untitled white rectangular canvases (each about three feet … Read more

“Subversive Practices: Art under Conditions of Political Repression. 1960s -1980s / South America / Europe” in Stuttgart (Exhib. Review)

Subversive Practices: Art under Conditions of Political Repression. 60s – 80s / South America / Europe, Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart. May 30 – August 2, 2009

This summer, the exhibition Subversive Practices: Art under Conditions of Political Repression 60s–80s / South America / Europe was presented at the Kunstverein in Stuttgart. As the organizers Iris Dressler and Hans D. Chris state, the exhibition describes “a multidimensional cartography” in which the many faceted contours of work spanning periods of time and geographical categories appear anew, often, from beyond the margins of skewed art discourses.

Subversive Practices assembled practices and theoretical positions … Read more

“Vuk Ćosić: Out Of Character” at Threshold artspace, Perth (Exhib. Review)

Vuk ?osi?: Out Of Character, Threshold artspace, Perth, Scotland. August 1 – November 1, 2009

Perth is a word derived from Old Norse, and is one of the ancient rune symbols, denoting mystery, games of chance, and gambling. Perhaps it was a mix of coincidences that led the Threshold art space to be headed by Sofia-born curator Iliyana Nedkova. After all, what are the chances of a curator from the central Balkans landing in the middle of Scotland? This unusual combination must have appealed to Vuk ?osi?’s sense of play when he agreed to his first-ever solo exhibition in … Read more

“Monument to Transformation” at City Gallery Prague, Municipal Library, Prague (Exhib. Review)

Monument to Transformation, City Gallery Prague, Municipal Library, Prague. May 28 – August 30, 2009

The dictionary defines transformation as a “marked change for the better.” Yet the formerly Communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe – including the Czech Republic – still wonder if the transformations that changed the lives of their citizens so fundamentally over the last two decades – walls were torn down, borders opened – really marked a change for the better. We may have come a long way but where are we now? And where are we headed? Most importantly, how do we perceive … Read more

Vladimir Havlík and Barbora Klímová, “Yesterday”, Parallel Gallery, Prague, June 4, 2009 – June 28, 2009 (Exhib. Review)

Vladimir Havlík and Barbora Klímová, Yesterday, Parallel Gallery. Prague, June 4, 2009 – June 28, 2009

The show at Prague’s Parallel gallery entitled “Yesterday” can be linked to a series of recent investigations by younger artists from countries of the former Eastern Bloc who take on the Communist past by way of its often decayed or discarded visual records, from photographs to videos and short films. While photography has been part of this endeavor for some time – in Russia, older artists such Boris Mikhailov and Alexei Shulgin come to mind, although their manner is more conceptual than that of … Read more