Which Side Are You On? Positioning and Orientation in the Art Histories of Eastern Europe

Which Side Are You On? Positioning and Orientation in the Art Histories of Eastern Europe

The workshop "Which Side Are You On? Positioning and Orientation in the Art Histories of Eastern Europe is designed as a working meeting for young academics (in history of art and cultural history), curators and artists engaged on a research project with reference to Eastern Europe.

Workshop organized by Marcle Bleuler and Ina Mertens
October 10-11, 2014
University of Bern, Institute of Art History - Waisenhausplatz 30, Room 163


The workshop ‘Which Side Are You On?’ Positioning and Orientation in the Art Histories of Eastern Europe is designed as a working meeting for young academics (in history of art and cultural history), curators and artists engaged on a research project with reference to Eastern Europe. The goal of the event is to present for discussion specific approaches to the current art scene and readings of the histories of art in the formerly socialist Eastern bloc states. In the recent past this topic has attracted growing research interest and researchers in both East and West need a more nuanced approach to the transition histories of Eastern Europe and the changed structures of the art world after the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’. Even though museums especially have been constituting an essential intellectual space in East European studies over the past years, specific local conditions have so far not been thematised, studied and documented academically. By exchanging ideas on specific projects and work processes, we aim to adopt a perspective that is firmly trained on practical research issues. The precarious situation of archives and collections, which often accompanies research in Eastern Europe, is just as much part of the workshop’s scope as the opportunities for getting access to material and immaterial knowledge and for establishing cooperations between institutions, researchers and artists. We also wish to articulate the challenges faced by researchers who try to take a stand within the existing art and academic worlds or within the – often also changing – political structures of Eastern Europe. Research that takes account of transcultural aspects has to react to complex local currents, to subjective accounts and to the ‘real place’ in all its banality and economies. The goal of the workshop is to make tangible these ‘soft aspects’, which are normally excluded from scholarly discourse, and to discuss them with an eye to the knowledge they may yield. On the one hand we are interested in learning more about specific transition processes in their local circumstances, but also, moving beyond this, we wish to promote a discussion of method in transregional research. Not least among our aims is to establish contact and discussion among the participants in the longer term.


Friday, October 10

13:00-13:30 Marcel Bleulet and Ina Mertens (University of Bern), Introductory Note

13:30-14:20 Dietmar Unterkofler (University of Novi Sad), Alternative Artist´s Networks in Southeastern Europe

14:20-15:10 Katalin Cseh (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich / University of Vienna), Space. Network. The Second Public Sphere of the Hungarian Neo-Avant-Garde


15:30-16:20 Ksenya Gurshtein (University of Virginia), TransStates: Conceptual Art in Eastern Europe and the Limits of Utopia

16:20-17:10 Mari Laanemets (Estonian Academy of Arts Talinn), Researching Soviet Modernism: Experimental Design and Architecture in Soviet Union, 1960-1970


17:30-18:30 Luchezar Boyadijev (Artist, Sofia), A Survivor of Utopia with Nostalgia for the Iron Curtain and a Master of Overlapping Identities in Deep Europe, Which Sees The Balkans as Either a Door or a Corner, at the Time of the Visual Logic of (Early) Neo-Capitalism, Which is in Fact a Billboard Heaven, and of the Schadenfreude Neo-Liberal Kind of Dog-Eat-Dog-Art-World Where the GastARTbeiter Once Said: "`Don´t Art Around!` unless you tell the story of an Endspiel that is part of the ever going battle between The Good, The Bad and The Lonely..."

Saturday, October 11

10:00-10:50 Cristian Nae (George Enescu University of Arts Iasi), (Re)Constructing Art History as Representational Practice: De-Linking Archives, Institutions, Discourses and Objects

10:50-11:40 Micha Braun (University of Leipzig), Echoes from the Archive. Practices of Memory and Resonance in Visual and Performative Arts in Central and Eastern Europe, 1980-Present


12:00-13:30 Kinga Bódi (Museum of Fine Arts / Eötvös Lóránd University Budapest) - Daria Ghiu (Romanian Broadcasting Corporation / National University of the Arts Bucharest) - Jörg Scheller (Zurich University of the Arts), Central and Eastern European Exhibitions at the Venice Art Biennale. Practical, Methodological and Hermeneutical Observations on the Hungarian, Romanian and Polish Participations.


14:30-15:20 Vladiya Mihaylova (Sofia City Art Gallery / Sofia University), Have We Ever Been Together? (Research Framework-History of Art in the Second Half of the 20th Century. Eastern Europe after 1989 - Case Study Bulgaria)

15:20-16:10 Corina L. Apostol (Rutgers University New Jersey), Dissident Education: Socially Engaged Art from the Former East in Global Context


16:30-17:30 Dagmar Reichert (Cultural Geographer, Zurich University of the Arts / Art as Foundation), Art Initiatives in the South Caucasus