Category: Exhibition Reviews

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

Ivan Moudov, “Trick Or Treat”, Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, December 6, 2008 – February 12, 2009 (Exhib. Review)


In the work of Bulgarian artist Ivan Moudov there is a conscious desire to dismantle the social role and structure of the artwork and the art world. Piece by piece, art is taken apart, and in the process of deconstruction we end up with many more pieces than we initially counted. Still the artist is not content with sabotaging the way things are. His solo exhibition at the Braunschweig Kunstverein also revealed a carefully reconstructed world where the bits and pieces were put back … Read more

Igor Grubić, “366 Liberation Rituals”, Galerija Miroslav Kraljević, Zagreb, March 20, 2009 – April 21, 2009 (Exhib. Review)

Igor Grubić, 366 Liberation Rituals, Galerija Miroslav Kraljević, Zagreb. March 20, 2009 – April 21, 2009

In 2008 the Croatian artist Igor Grubić began a series of performances dedicated to the revolutionary movements of 1968 that ranged from personal dedications to provocative, site-specific interventions in public spaces. The meticulous exhibition of Grubić’s work at Galerija Miroslav Kraljević in Zagreb functioned as an introduction to the artist book that is to be published by the same gallery in June of this year. The show itself presented photo-documents and artist’s statements with respect to twenty five of Grubić’s actions and performances, … Read more

“Without Borders”, Austrian Cultural Forum, Bratislava, Slovakia, March 5, 2009 – April 24, 2009.

Without Borders, Austrian Cultural Forum, Bratislava, Slovakia. March 5, 2009 – April 24, 2009

In 1989 the Iron Curtain fell. That same year, the organization “Kultur Kontakt Austria” was founded. In that period of drastic social and political changes when new democracies were formed in Europe, Kultur Kontakt Austria figured as a coordination hub that supported artists and cultural institutions from former Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Serbia, Romania, Poland, Croatia), creating a platform for cultural exchange. Even after twenty years, KKA is still true to its mission and systematically supports the arts in these countries.

The … Read more

Edi Hila, “Paysages Transitionnels”, Galerie JGM, Paris, January 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009.

Edi Hila: Paysages Transitionnels, Galerie JGM, Paris. January 15, 2009 – February 15, 2009

Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Edi Hila has been known in the international art community as one of the most remarkable artists of his generation. Hila is known as a professor to numerous generations of young students at Tirana’s Academy of Fine Arts (among whom Anri Sala, Adrian Paci and Tirana’s infamous mayor-painter Edi Rama). He is admired for his gentle character and precise knowledge by those privileged enough to have known him personally or to have worked with him. And he … Read more

Iren Stehli, Brigitte Weiss Galerie, Zurich, January 16, 2009 – March 7, 2009.


Iren Stehli, a Swiss native who was drawn to Prague by her interest in her mother’s heritage, first arrived there in 1974. At that time the city was in the midst of a difficult political period, the “normalization,” i.e., the return to the status before the Prague Spring. In Prague Stehli first studied Czech and decided to stay and study photography.  Once enrolled in the Academy of Film, Photography, and Television (FAMU), still a bastion of some freedom of creative – if not political – expression, Stehli’s … Read more

Amateurs and Lovers: Nikolay Bakharev’s Gaze

Nikolay Bakharev: Public and Private, Gallery, Moscow, November 29, 2008 – January 15, 2009

Nikolay Bakharev once photographed me and my adult daughter. We were part of a project initiated by a Moscow magazine. We were ready: we had gotten dressed up and we struck a pose, embracing against the white walls of my apartment. We hugged a bit more fervently than we would have for any other photographer: we knew that we were dealing with Bakharev. It was obvious that Bakharev sensed our discomfort. He went for the knockout punch: he chatted with us either in a … Read more

Dreams Behind Bars: Miami’s “Russian Show”

Russian Dreams, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, December 4, 2008 – February 8, 2009.

Russian Dreams presents work by contemporary artists from Russia. On view at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami from December 4, 2008 to February 8, 2009, the exhibition is a collaboration between the Bass and the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow. It includes work by established artists such as the AES+F Group; Alexander Ponomarev; Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov; Dmitri Gutov; Alexei Kostroma; and a new generation of younger artists including Julia Milner, Rostan Tavasiev, Haim Sokol, and MishMash Project. The first group came to prominence … Read more

Boris Orlov: The Story of an Imperial Artist

Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Ermolaevsky pereulok, February 14, 2008 – March 16, 2008.

The exhibition of the Russian sculptor Boris Orlov, held last March, initiated a survey of unofficial Russian art and its key individuals – a period that is currently in focus in the context of increasingly market-driven art practices.

The retrospective, entitled Earthly and Heavenly Warriors and sprawling over four floors of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art [MOMMA], numbered about 80 sculptures in all. Orlov’s subjects are the Soviet ruling elite that he has rendered in a stylized and idiosyncratic manner, either carved as busts, portrait … Read more

Dmitry Gutov’s Used at Guelman Galery, Moscow

Guelman Gallery, Moscow, April 3 – 23, 2008.

Dmitry Gutov, a leading Russian artist and a long time member of the Moscow intelligentsia, did not have to go far when he went in search of objects to weld together sculptures exhibited at the Guelman Gallery this past April. All he needed was found dumped in his parents’ garage. While the old bicycles, vacuum cleaners, and radios might look like junk to us, to Gutov they are precious relics of a quickly receding time in Russia’s turbulent history. “These objects are dear to me”, says the artist. Welded onto grids of … Read more

Ivan Chuikov’s Theory of Reflection

Stella Art Foundation, Moscow, February 28- March 30th 2008

In the exhibition Theory of Reflection 1 (1978-92) and Analytical Tree (1994) on view during this spring at the Stella Gallery, the installations by Ivan Chuikov confront the viewer with an intriguing experience of visual play. Five identical installations of still-lifes are placed in front of free-standing round-headed frames that hold either a glass mirror or cardboard, or are left empty. The traditional nature morte doubles when reflected in a mirror, takes on Cubist forms when painted on cardboard , or vanishes completely when placed by the artist beyond the wooden … Read more

Gülsen Bal and “Open Space” at the Zentrum für Kunstprojekte, Vienna

Open Space, Zentrum für Kunstprojekte, Lassingleithnerplatz 2 Schwedenplatz, A – 1020 Vienna, Austria.

With the inauguration of “Open Space” by Gülsen Bal at the beginning of 2008, Vienna’s art scene saw an important enrichment of exhibition space after a number of crisis-ridden institutional changes in 2007. The merger of Generali and Bawag Foundation into one exhibition space saw the end of a decade-long exhibition program concerned with a stringent focus on conceptual practices. The latter abruptly came to a halt due to the decisions made by the groups’ CEOs, which demonstrated how global capital dominates artistic representation and its social … Read more

The States of Mind of Romanian Visual Arts: The Personal Exhibition of Lia & Dan Perjovschi

Nasher Museum, Duke University, August 2007 – January 2008.

The title of the first retrospective exhibition of Lia and Dan Perjovschi at Duke University’s Nasher Museum suggests the effervescence of the Romanian “beginnings” in the 90s.(The States of Mind was the first big collective exhibition organized without communist censorship by the Art Museum of Timisoara, in 1991, following the initiative and concept of a group of young artists, among whom we can mention Sorin Vreme; Ileana Pintilie, museum curator, was in charge of the exhibition logistics.)  Considered two of the most significant artists of experimental art in Eastern … Read more

Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945

Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945, Milwaukee Art Museum, February 9-May 4, 2008.

The importance of Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945 extends beyond mere historical documentation. Fundamental to the exhibition’s premise is the essential role of photography in defining modernism within this region, both in art and in the culture as a whole.

The exhibition and accompanying catalogue—wonderfully curated and thoughtfully written by Matthew Witkovsky, assistant curator of photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Washington (the show’s organizer)—impart key, if not unprecedented, scholarship to an art historical narrative that often overlooks the contributions of Central European artists and … Read more

Alina Szapocznikow’s Protean Body

Alina Szapocznikow, Alina Szapocznikow, Broadway 1602, New York, November 18, 2007 – January 12, 2008

The recent resurgence of interest in women artists and feminist art, as demonstrated not least of all by the successes of “Wack!” in Los Angeles and “Global Feminisms” at the Brooklyn Museum, has encouraged critics and art historians to extend their investigations of women artists beyond the Western-oriented feminist canon of the 1970s. One of the most fascinating individuals to come to the attention of international viewers is, in fact, not a newcomer at all, at least not in her native Poland. Although Alina … Read more

Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen, Paintings 1993 to the Present Day

Neo Rauch: Neue Rollen, Paintings 1993 to the Present Day
Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, October 5-May 8, 2007

Neo Rauch has exhibited widely in recent years and much of the discourse around his paintings hinges on his identity as a product of the DDR, or former communist East Germany. His bizarre pictorial constructions seem to invite a consideration of legacy: of failed socialism and of painting itself. What did/does it all mean? The Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg Germany has provided an opportunity to reflect on this question by organizing the largest survey of his work to date and sending it on tour … Read more

Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev’s A New Silk Road: Algorithm of Survival and Hope

Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev’s A New Silk Road: Algorithm of Survival and Hope; The Art Institute of Chicago, February 1-May 6, 2007

The photographs and video installations of Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev draw on various documentary styles and techniques to capture the changing social landscape of their native Kyrgyzstan since it became an independent republic in 1991. Like many artists of post-Soviet Europe and Central Asia, their practice is a discursive one that casts a critical yet empathetic eye on their indigenous subjects (human and otherwise) and the political spaces they occupy.

Their collaborative projects engage in what … Read more

Footnotes to Discontent

2nd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, March 1-April 1, 2007

The 2nd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art was themed FOOTNOTES on Geopolitics, Market and Amnesia and added its own measure of discontent to the excess of world biennales. Now that this short-lived event is over, its outcome appears clear: the Biennale has only served to highlight the level of political uncertainty, profligate corruption, and social disparity that defines its context. In a social landscape rife with political intrigue, tightening censorship, and some 40 percent of the population living in poverty, the government’s spending of over US $2 million … Read more

Between Abstraction and Thing-Aesthetics: The Object in Avant-Garde Art

Workshop, “The Disclaimed Object — Skepticism on the Artifact of the Russian Avant-Garde Between Abstraction and Things-Aesthetics” (17th and 18th of November 2006, Freie Universität Berlin).

The workshop investigated the different meanings of the terms “object” (predmet / Gegenstand) and “thing” (vešč’) in avant-garde art. According to the organizers, the difference between “object” and “thing” has an anthropological dimension, requiring the presence of the subject.

Summaries of Workshop Contributions

In his lecture “The Life of Things: Italian and Russian Futurism,” Hans Günther discussed the interrelationship of science and technology, as well as the perception of things. … Read more