The year 2023 saw two retrospective exhibitions of the work of Saodat Ismailova: Double Horizon at Le Fresnoy-Studio National (February 10 – April 30, 2023), which was the culmination of the artist’s two-year residency at the School of Contemporary Art in Tourcoing, and 18,000 Worlds at Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam (January 21 – June 4, 2023), which accompanied the Eye Art & Film Prize the artist received for her work interweaving contemporary art and cinema. A year earlier, the artist left her mark both at the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale, and at the documenta fifteen exhibition in … Read more
Tagged: contemporary art
The fifth edition of the Art Encounters Biennial in Timișoara, Romania, took place this year from May 19 to July 16, 2023. Entitled My Rhino is Not a Myth, about forty per cent of the exhibited works were from the region (with more than half of these from Romania) and the remainder from other regions including Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. The exhibition was staged in historic and contemporary buildings in two urban areas – the city center and the new residential and business district ISHO in north-eastern Timișoara – with eleven venues in total, if one … Read more
One of the most noted 20th-century artists born in the USSR, Ilya Kabakov, died on May 27, 2023. It is no easy task to pay short tribute to a man of his ingenuity, diligence, discipline, and influence. Rather than publishing a standard obituary, ARTMargins Online editors asked some of the artist’s friends and collaborators, as well as critics and curators, to reflect, below, on his life and work from a personal perspective. The resulting collage of responses formally functions not unlike Kabakov’s own Answers of an Experimental Group (1971). This work compelled Boris Groys, one of Kabakov’s earliest commentators, to … Read more
In March 2022, shortly after Russia had attacked Ukraine, the Chto Delat (What is to be done?) collective produced an artwork entitled Canary Archives in response to the shock of the military escalation.(Chto Delat, “Canary Archives 2022,” http://chtodelat.org/category/b7-art-projects/installations/canary-archives-2022-2/ Accessed January 31, 2023) While work on the project – comprising a four-channel video installation and a newspaper issue – had commenced earlier, the invasion was the catalyst for its statement. The filming and written elements were revised substantially as a consequence of the outbreak of war. Today, more than one year later, the relevance of the work has become … Read more
The following roundtable was convened online on November 18, 2022, in conjunction with ARTMargins Online’s current special issue on Art and Solidarity. AMO’s editorial collective invited a panel of East European artists, theorists, and curators (Suzana Milevska, Olga Kopenkina, Dmitry Vilensky, Rena Raedle and Vladan Jeremic) who all have consistently engaged with the dilemmas of defining and practicing artistic solidarity. We asked participants to examine the forms and interpretations of solidarity they find the most effective, why expressions of international solidarity often fail, and what lessons the legacy of socialist internationalism may have for us today.
The online conversation moderated … Read more
The fourteenth edition of the nomadic European biennial Manifesta took place in Prishtina, Kosovo, from July 22 to October 30, 2022. The biennial included 25 exhibition venues in an urban parcours throughout the city, ranging from (dilapidated) historic monuments and institutions to public squares, abandoned buildings, and unused or unexpected urban spaces. Four of these venues have been declared “major pillars,” namely the Grand Hotel Prishtina, The Center for Narrative Practices (a former library), an abandoned brick factory on the outskirts of the city, and the so-called Green Corridor, an unused train track that has been transformed into a walking … Read more
Equating all types of work and workers in his writing, Edvard Kardelj, one of the main ideators of the Yugoslav workers’ self-management system, set the scene for the understanding of the role of artists in Yugoslav society.(Edvard Kardelj, Pravci razvoja političkog sistema socijalističkog samoupravljanja (Beograd: Komunist, 1978), p. 25.) The idea of class solidarity and the equal value of work—regardless of it being intellectual or physical—was embraced, and many initiatives followed this idea, such as the art program at the Ironworks complex in Sisak, in present-day Croatia, where workers assisted artists, and collaborated with them in the creation … Read more
“I Refuse to Accept This State of Affairs”: An Interview with the International Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the War in Ukraine
While Russia aggressively wages a major war in Ukraine, how can contemporary art help launch an antiwar movement worldwide? At a time when art workers in the post-Soviet region are more ethnically divided than ever, the International Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the War in Ukraine demonstrates a unique ability to unite around a platform for promoting antiwar and anti-colonial messages. Initially intended as an alternative Belarusian pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, this digital platform quickly evolved to include and showcase antiwar artwork from a broad spectrum of countries including Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Germany, … Read more
Introduction to the Special Issue
The articles and interviews contained in this ARTMargins Online Special Issue address a wide range of approaches to artistic solidarity, some motivated explicitly by historical precedents and others by specific conditions of the present. They explore artistic projects, online platforms, curatorial approaches, and activist stances, presenting a diverse array of perspectives on what it can mean to stand with each other, even when we are apart—sharing common strategies and common visions, in search of a common future.
The special issue brings together voices from throughout the artworld to explore the ways artists, cultural workers, and … Read more
“I don’t want art that points to a thing. I want art that is the thing.”
In 2018, Selma Selman, an artist of Romani origin who grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina (henceforth referred to as Bosnia), set out to buy her freedom from her family. Recording her project on film, she negotiated a fair price to make up for the dowry her parents would forgo in not marrying her off. She proceeded to sell her hair, her clothes, and her artworks before officially making the exchange of $11,166 for her independence. Selman’s aim was, in … Read more
Armando Lulaj and Marco Mazzi, Broken Narrative: The Politics of Contemporary Art in Albania (Earth, Milky Way: Punctum Books, 2022), 364 pp.
Broken Narrative is a book from the margins peddling central, bringing recent Albanian history into conversation with central ideological currents of our times. This symbolic exchange between local and global stories unfolds through a dialogue between Italian-educated Albanian artist Armando Lulaj and Italian photographer and multi-media artist Marco Mazzi, presenting a microcosm of a long overdue Albanian-Italian conversation. Encapsulating some of Albania’s most persistent dreams and nightmares, Italy emerges as a simulacrum of sorts, an actual and imaginary … Read more
Dream Compass: “There You Are,” or the Bulgarian Pavilion in the Context of the 59th Venice Biennial
“Images are (…) a silent language. They are a station on the way from silence to language. They stand on the frontier where silence and language face each other closer than anywhere else, but the tension between them is resolved by beauty. Images and pictures remind man of life before the coming of language. They move him with a yearning for that life (…) It is the soul that preserves the silent images of things”.(Max Picard, Images and Silence, in The World of Silence (Minnesota: Harvill, 1948), p. 80.)
The Bulgarian Pavilion at the 59th edition … Read more
This podcast dialogue took place on July 17, 2022, nearly five months since Russia first invaded Ukraine. Cultural producer Janeil Engelstad and curator Lilia Kudelia spoke with curator and researcher Kateryna Filyuk and art historian and cultural programmer Ilya Zabolotnyi about how the war has impacted Ukrainian art and culture, issues of cultural preservation and self-agency, as well as the building of support networks and new art infrastructures. Filyuk is a curator at Izolyatsia Platform for Cultural Initiatives in Kyiv, whose mission has shifted to address the war-related needs of arts organizations, artists, and cultural workers. Zabolotnyi is Director of … Read more
Entangled Roots in the Mutating Nature of the New East: Kristaps Ancāns in Conversation with Corina Apostol and Jasmina Tumbas
Romanian-American-Baltic curator Corina L. Apostol and Latvian-British artist Kristaps Ancāns have recently begun a series of collaborations that focus on expanding discourses in contemporary art to include transnational perspectives centered on the New East. In December 2021, Apostol served as the curator for Ancāns’s large-scale site-specific installation what can’t we just create (2021-2022) at the Mark Rothko Art Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia. Prompted by the current invasion of Ukraine, Apostol and Ancāns revisit this installation in conversation with art historian Jasmina Tumbas, to discuss how they—as cultural workers from the region—negotiate the reconfiguration of questions of identity, nationalism, and sexuality … Read more
“To Me, Everything is a Space for Encounter”: Michael Laundry in Conversation with Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński
Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński is an interdisciplinary artist mainly using archival and museal material for artistic research in photography and video. Late last year, Kazeem-Kamiński received the Camera Austria Award for Contemporary Photography by the City of Graz. A solo show of her work was also recently on view at Kunsthalle Wien. While in Vienna, Michael Laundry spoke with Kazeem-Kamiński about how her work creates space to think about Black feminism, representation, and post-colonial theory. In this interview, Laundry and Kazeem-Kamiński discuss the her use of slide shows, artist books, photography, and video in the dissection of the white gaze on Black … Read more
This podcast is part of the One on One series, which presents timely encounters between ARTMargins Online editors and contemporary artists, focused on one work. It was recorded on the occasion of the recent online release of Missa Echologica, a video piece. Zsuzsa László interviews the Hungarian artist and poet Anna Zilahi who created this work in collaboration with Laura Szári and the Varsányi Szirének feminist choir (Blanka Bolonyai, Dóra Ferenczy, Bettina Horváth, Dóra Király, Rita Szántó, Laura Szári, Diána Takács, Eszter Tóth, Virág Török, Anna Zilahi). Gergely Ofner was in charge of photography. The work was introduced … Read more
This interview focuses on the film Otranto (2019–2020), created by the artist collective Latent Community (Ionian Bisai and Sotiris Tsiganos). Otranto explores a relatively unknown tragedy: the story of the refugee ship Katër i Radës. The ship departed from the Albanian port city of Vlora, carrying 120 people fleeing the violence that had engulfed the country following the massive collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. On March 28, 1997, the Italian navy warship Sibilla—acting in accordance with an Italian blockade of Albania to prevent refugees from entering the country—intercepted, rammed, and sunk the Katër i Radës in the strait of … Read more
ŠTO TE NEMA (Where have you been?) by Bosnian-born artist Aida Šehović is an annual nomadic monument to the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide that has traveled internationally to 15 different cities from 2006 to 2020. This participatory public monument, consisting of more than 8,372 fildžani (small porcelain coffee cups) that have been collected and donated by Bosnian families from all over the world, addresses issues of trauma, healing, and remembrance. The first in a series of articles that make up our Special Issue Contemporary Approaches to Monuments in Central and Eastern Europe, this interview is occasioned by Šehović’s
Introduction to Special Issue
What new practices of commemoration, and what new kinds of memory, do contemporary monuments make possible? What can contemporary art do to help us remember, and what does it mean to make a monument in today’s conditions? This Special Issue highlights a broad range of contemporary practices devoted to alternative forms of commemoration and the problems posed by monumentality within present-day Central and Eastern Europe and its diaspora. Such practices include documentary projects, performances, and interventions that occupy the post-socialist public sphere, as well as works that explore the fraught legacies of socialist-era monuments and subsequent … Read more
On the Concept of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ukraine: Svitlana Biedarieva in Conversation with Olya Balashova and Yuliia Hnat
For many years, Ukraine has experienced a growing need for a Museum of Contemporary Art that would function as the first state-run collection focused on acquiring and exhibiting the work of contemporary Ukrainian artists. The attempts to create such an institution began in the early 2000s, but thus far have been unsuccessful due to political and sociocultural factors. In 2020, a nonprofit association was created to work in an applied way on the development of theconcept of the museum, with the involvement of key experts in contemporary art and culture. In this interview, art historian and artist Svitlana Biedarieva speaks … Read more
Open Archive (Arkivi i Hapur), National Gallery of Arts, Tirana, September 18, 2020 – Ongoing.
The advent of the coronavirus pandemic seems to have sparked a surge in archival-minded exhibitions in museums (and other kinds of art spaces) the world over, a trend that was especially noticeable in the aftermath of the first wave of the pandemic during the summer of 2020. Many of these shows have been permeated by a sense of “getting back to basics,” as it were. This is not surprising, given that the coronavirus pandemic has put into question the ability of museums to perform the … Read more
Adrian Bojenoiu and Cristian Nae, eds., Romanian Contemporary Art 2010-2020: Rethinking the Image of the World: Projects and Sketches (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2020), 208 pp.
Defining the perpetually shifting trends of art in the present can often lead to contradictory arguments, and thus there are few bold and risky examples of efforts at historicizing artistic phenomena that are still in the course of development. At the same time, however, there seems to be an urgency to facilitating the entrance of very recent art from the countries of the former Eastern bloc into the global consciousness. This is happening not only … Read more
In this interview, artist Yevgeniy Fiks speaks with art historian and curator Ksenia Nouril about The Wayland Rudd Collection, the artist’s ongoing project that brings together a wide range of Soviet images depicting Africans and African Americans. Established as a collaborative project that incorporates contemporary interventions, the Rudd Collection nuances what is typically projected as a monolithic Soviet culture while also enhancing our understanding of race in and beyond contemporary Russian society.
Ksenia Nouril: What is The Wayland Rudd Collection?
Yevgeniy Fiks: The Wayland Rudd Collection is a participatory, conceptual art project at the center of which is … Read more
ARTMargins Online is currently seeking submissions for a special issue on the intersection of art and race in contemporary Eastern and Central Europe. The issue will bring together artists, critics, and scholars whose work significantly engages with power structures and aesthetic paradigms that shape and are shaped by discourses on race, with an emphasis on postwar and contemporary practices. As right-wing populism and xenophobic policies rise across Europe and the globe, it is becoming all the more urgent to understand how artists working in the 20th and 21st centuries have approached race and its representation, racialized patterns of … Read more
Andrzej Szczerski, Transformation: Art in East-Central Europe since 1989. Translated by Sabina Potaczek-Jasionowicz (Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press, 2018).
The title of one of the chapters of Andrzej Szczerski’s Transformation: Art in East-Central Europe since 1989 can, curiously, summarize the entire premise of the book. The chapter in question is titled “Communism Never Happened.” This sounds paradoxical, of course. Yet the title is fitting: not because Communism is being ignored in this two-hundred-page-long, ambitious overview of art made after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, but because, for all that, it has virtually no impact on the identity of the … Read more
Katharina Schendl, ed., Notes on Contemporary Art in Kosovo (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2018), 128pp.
Notes on Contemporary Art in Kosovo is a slim volume collecting eight short essays and two interviews focused on Kosovo’s art scene. Published as part of the tranzit.at (the Vienna-based branch of the transnational contemporary art network tranzit.org) Glossary series, the book’s stated goal is to provide the grounds for understanding how the contemporary art scene in Kosovo shaped itself beginning in the ‘90s decade. The texts included in the volume span the last twenty years,(In a few cases, it is unclear precisely when and … Read more
Sammy Baloji: Extractive Landscapes, Stadtgalerie Museumspavillon, Salzburg, July 25 – August 17, 2019
A landscape that has been transformed by human intervention retells the story of the complex power play between different interests and concepts of reality. Such a landscape is never neutral, but rather constantly negotiated and explored, suggesting various interpretations and conclusions. Colonial expansion represented lands outside of the ‘civilized’ European framework as spaces in dire need of cultivation, civilization, and ultimately exploitation, their inhabitants included. Such attitudes continue to affect people in former colonies and beyond. Their material realities have permanently changed by the consequences of colonial … Read more