Self-Institutionalizing as Political Agency: Contemporary Art Practice in Bucharest and Budapest

Reacting against politically monopolizing attempts at rewriting the socialist past in post-1989 Hungary and Romania, a diverse number of artists, curators, critics, activists and students have come together to form temporary organizations and institutions. Through a contextual reading and critical analysis of The Department for Art in Public Space (2009–2011) in Bucharest and DINAMO (2003–2006) and IMPEX (2006–2009) in Budapest, this article investigates what the author refers to as a “self-institutionalizing” and the ways in which this practice becomes a vehicle to rear politicized civil societies in post-cold war Central and Eastern Europe. The discussion of the two self-institutionalizing initiatives in Romania and Hungary seeks to contribute and complicate the official and institutionalized narrative of institutional critique rooted in a North American context.

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