joi, 10 noiembrie 2016

Artists as cultural workers

Jonas Staal (n.1981), is a Rotterdam- based artist whose works include interventions in public space, exhibitions, lectures, and publications that interrogate the relationship between art, democracy, ideology, politics and propaganda.

Propaganda against what New Word Academy in Holland calls 'cultural imperialism' - meaning the effects of neo-liberalism on poor countries...
Isn'it ironic that such discourses are written down and thought in countries such as Holland itself?

joi, 11 februarie 2016

Red Africa


Are you interested in getting to know more about USSR's friendships among African Countries?

The Red Africa Exhibition (4 February  - 3 April 2016 ) takes place at the Calvert22 Gallery in London.

This exhibition can be seen also in relation to the bigger project Socialism Goes Global.


vineri, 30 octombrie 2015

CfP: Artistic re-enactments as Vehicles of Cultural Transfer in Eastern European Performance Art

AAH2016 Annual Conference and Bookfair
University of Edinburgh
7 - 9 April 2016

Artistic Re-enactments as Vehicles of Cultural Transfer in Eastern European Performance Art, 1960–present

Amy Bryzgel, University of Aberdeen,
The re-enactment of artistic performances and actions is a topic that has garnered much attention in recent years, most notably catalogued in Amelia Jones’ and Adrian Heathfield’s substantial publication Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History (2012). Given the fact that, in many cases, artistic transfer from one generation to the next did not occur in the traditional manner – through the academies – in Eastern Europe, re-enactments of artistic performance can function, in the region, as a witness to the forgotten past, functioning as a vehicle of cultural memory. Additionally, it can facilitate the transfer of ideas, history and practice from one generation to the next.
This panel invites papers that discuss artistic re-enactments of performances from across the former communist and socialist countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe in recent artistic practice. The papers in the panel should interrogate some of the following questions: What are the various functions of artistic re-enactments of performances in Eastern Europe? How do these functions compare with current understandings of re-enactment in the West? How can re-enactments be used to access a lost or inaccessible history (such as performance art in Eastern Europe)? Also welcome are papers that consider revisiting culturally relevant or historically significant places by artists or within the context of artistic re-enactments.

Email paper propsals to the session convenor(s) by 9 November 2015. Download a Paper Proposal Guidelines

luni, 27 iulie 2015

reassembling rubbish

I love rubbish:
- the sound of the metal bins thrown on the pavement of Eastern European cold cities in autumn early mornings (more specifically 5,30 a.m.),
- the incredibly rich conversations one can have with people who sweep the streets of towns. Once I heard more women sweeping the streets in a neighbourhood of Bucharest shouting at each-other across the street: 'Hey you! [in Ro: Ce fa!] Do you want to get to clean the streets in the city centre?!'
Folowed by laughter. Ambition is everywhere.
-the tones of garbage thrown in some huge pits and the screams of the seagulls. Dust and diamonds at the same time, and not only because of the dark aesthetics, but also because of the great profit made by garbage companies all over the world.
-the life of those people who manage to live with little - that little which remains from those who have too much.
-the sadness and to a certain degree, the despair of those who have too much and who start living surrounded by things they do not like any more.
-an exhibition I have missed - on waste - somewhere in London.
- a film I love: Les Glaneurs and la Glaneuse.
-this project: - and maybe some others more

miercuri, 17 iunie 2015

Art and Tourism

That Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world, is not a new thing to say. It has its peculiarities, though. It is based on a major economic inequality: some people have money to travel, some others have barely some to cope with living, and consequently encounter tourists (generally) with a lot of appreciation and happiness.
From this economic and affective juxtaposition some artists manage to draw subjects of inspiration.
Marcus Coates is one of them. I am going to write about two of his projects. One is entitled the Trip, and was commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery in London as part of the project Skills Exchange. It deals with the artist' work for outpatients as St John's hospice asking the question 'What can an artist do for you?' Those who responded suggested various things, among which a trip to the Amazon. Coates did the trip, filmed part of it, screened it and talked to the people who commissioned it - about this journey that he did for them, about fears and strengths, about how much you can push yourself, about meeting the Amazon people through an intermediary - but still feeling great, about storytelling.
The Interview and long conversations between the artist and one of the patients in the hospice were touching in their simplicity and curiosity: what those people were eating, the effects of entering in contact with the white men, etc. At the end of the interview there is an artist's note: That the person who commissioned this trip died not long after this interview. In our last conversation we continued to talk about our trip. He said that he often went down the river into the jungle when de needed to.

The other project of Marcus Coates is the following performance he did in front of an audience of old people living in a block of flats: Trip to the Lower World.

The second artist I want to write about is Martin Parr's collections of postcards. Some of them were exhibited in Barbican's exhibition: Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector.
His books with photos taken by him are just great. Mass Tourism, Small World (a critique of  or From Home and Abroad is one of them.

'Leisure, consumption and communication are the concepts that Martin Parr has been researching for several decades now on his worldwide travels. In the process, he examines national characteristics and international phenomena to find out how valid they are as symbols that will help future generations to understand our cultural peculiarities. Parr enables us to see things that have seemed familiar to us in a completely new way. In this way he creates his own image of society, which allows us to combine an analysis of the visible signs of globalisation with unusual visual experiences. In his photos, Parr juxtaposes specific images with universal ones without resolving the contradictions. Individual characteristics are accepted and eccentricities are treasured.
Martin Parr sensitises our subconscious – and once we’ve seen his photographs, we keep on discovering these images over and over again in our daily lives and recognising ourselves within them. The humour in these photographs makes us laugh at ourselves, with a sense of recognition and release.' Thomas Weski
A model wears a piece from a capsule collection designed by House of Holland in collaboration with the photographer Martin Parr.

marți, 9 iunie 2015

Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in the Early Modern Period

From Riverbed to Seashore:

Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in the Early Modern Period

 June 12-13, 2015

New Europe College, Bucharest


[The Getty Foundation, Connecting Art Histories Initiative; Harvard University]



JUNE 12, 2015


Introductory Remarks


9:30-9:50 – Alina Payne (Harvard University, USA) 


Panel I. The Black Sea


9:50-10:20 – Cemal Kafadar (Harvard University, USA) “Vampire trouble is more serious than the mighty plague.” A Comparative Look at the History of Evil and Mischief, inspired by Evliya Celebi (1611-1684?)


10:20-10:50 – Nicole Kançal-Ferrari (Istanbul Şehir University, Turkey) Investigation in a

Shared Aesthetic Language: Architecture and Artistic Environment of the Golden Horde and

Early Crimean Khanate Period in Crimea (XIIIth – XVIth centuries)  


10:50-11:20 – Iván Szántó (Eötvös Loránd University, Institute of Art History, Hungary) Re-

Imagining Ottoman Space in the Age of Reason


11:20-11:50 – Coffee Break


11:50-12:20 – Diana Belci (University “Politehnica” Timisoara, Romania) Wood and Stone: Cultural Transfers in Early Modern Banat Architecture


12:20-12:50 – Tatiana Sizonenko (University of San Diego, California) Venetian Architecture for the Tsar: Alevisio Novy's Encounter with the Arts of Muscovy 


12:50-13:20 – Daniela Calciu (Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Romania)

Sociability Seeps: Coffee on the Lower Danube (Moldavia and Walachia) in the 17th and Early 18thcenturies


13:20-14:20 – Lunch Break


Panel II. Danubian Exchanges


14:20-14:50 – Vladimir Simić (University of Belgrade, Serbia) Printed Cyrillic Books Between Venice and the Danube in the First Half of the 16th Century 


14:50-15:20 – Jacek Bielak (University of Gdansk, Art History Institute, Poland) Amber Artworks and their Meaning in the Transcultural Exchange


15:20-15:50  – Alexander Osipian (Kramatorsk Institute of Economics and Humanities, Ukraine)

Oriental Carpets and Rugs as Complex Social Messages: Attitudes of Armenian Merchants, Polish Nobility and Catholic Intellectuals in the Seventeenth-Century Polish Kingdom


15:50-16:20 – Coffee Break


16:20-16:50 – Anna-Mária Nyárádi (Eötvös Loránd University, Institute of Art History, Hungary) Goldsmithery Made for the Cantacuzinos: How Şeytanoğlu’s Descendants Made Art Flourish in Wallachia


16:50-17:20 – Michał Wardzyński (University of Warsaw, Institute of Art History, Poland) On the Way to the ‘New Empire’: An ‘After-life’ of the Roman and Byzantine Marble and Porphyry's Traditions in Central Europe during the Early-Modern Era


17:20-17:50 – Stanko Kokole (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) “ut ad Imperatoriam sedem transmitterentur ...”: Ancient Roman Inscriptions on the Move within the Habsburg Empire of Charles VI



JUNE 13, 2015


The Adriatic 


9:30-10:00 – Ioli Kalavrezou (Harvard University, USA) The Reliquary of St. Niphon: Relations

Between Wallachia, Constantinople and Mt. Athos


10:00-10:30 – Darka Bilić (Institute of Art History, Center Cvito Fisković, Croatia) The Lazareto in Split Between East and West


10:30-11:00 – Elizabeth Kassler-Taub (Harvard University, USA) Early Modern Sicily and the Eastern Frontier


11:00-11:30 – Mirko Sardelić (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb, Croatia) Between Venice and the Levant: a 16th-Century Ship in the Adriatic


11:30-12:00 – Coffee Break


12:00-12:30 – Josip Belamarić (Institute of Art History, Center Cvito Fisković, Croatia) The Villa in Renaissance Dubrovnik: ars ubi naturam perfecit apta rudem  (where art has tamed the wild nature)


12:30-13:00 – Ana Šverko (Institute of Art History, Center Cvito Fisković, Croatia) Michele and

Giangirolamo Sanmicheli’s Fort St Nicholas in Šibenik in the Context of Adriatic Renaissance Fortifications


13:00-13:30 – Daniel Premerl (Institute of Art History, Zagreb, Croatia) Visual Propaganda for the Illyrian Cause in Urban VIII's Rome 


marți, 2 iunie 2015

Textile Fragments

I think it is always fascinating to think that museums have fragments of things, and not entire things. Like for example, in the Museum of the Romanian Peasant there is an entire store full of textile fragments, called MOSTRE. The display in the museum and artists such as Lena Constante took the idea of fragments and patchwork and made extremely powerful pieces of art.
This idea made me think of a conference on textile fragments, their use and display (in museums) held at the University of Wolverhampton in 2014.
But also, of the idea that sometimes clothes themselves contain fragments, and that the most useful form of textile fragment is the patch, especially the patches on the clothes of the poor. The following image comes from the Book cover of Vivienne's Richmond's book: Clothing the Poor, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

painting of a clothing seller

Are textile fragments so different from archives of image and text?
Does the closeness of the body impact in any way the way textiles are valued and displayed?
Can poverty be put on display? Maybe, an interesting way to put it would be through the work of patches...and textile fragments, the quintessence of need, care (love) and work.

luni, 18 mai 2015

'Stop and Go!' Bulgarian International truck drivers, stories from the Giurgiu/ Ruse border, Eastern European Migration

Bulgarian International Truck Drivers: A Methodological Approach

This is a post about a team of artists and researchers based in Eastern and Central Europe who investigate artistically on issues related with movement, migration, spaces, borders, fronteers.
The picture presented above comes from Emilya Karaboeva's research on Bulgarian Truck Drivers during the Cold War Era.

For more details on this project visit the following blog:

Nodes of Transformation and Transition focuses its research on the transformation of the informal hubs, nodes and terminals at the “PAN-European corridors” in Eastern Europe and Vienna that emerged parallel to the increase in traffic volume after the fall of Communism and moreover their impact on the public realm at the margins and even in the core of the cities.
When increasing numbers of people are obliged to spend increasing amounts of time in transit, when their vehicles serve increasingly as a form of personal shelter or home, then transition nodes along their primary route – where exchange between the actors en route happens – acquire ever-greater significance. The alternative models of urbanism that ensue from the paradigmatic shift at these spaces, are shaped by polyrhythmic densifications and the continual performance of difference such as also increasingly inform our everyday lives.
In a first step of developments of informal nodes so-called “leakage currents” and “ant (flying) vendors” give rise to their spatial and social structures (Karl Schlögel, 2009). Where trade takes place exchange happens and difference arises. If we follow Henry Lefebvre’s thesis that urbanity is no more defined by density but by the degree of difference performed at specific places then these nodes paradigmatically represent new forms of urbanity (Henry Lefebvre, 2003). Many of these informal gathering places over time might have been transformed into more formal and controlled territories, and new ones might have appeared. Examples of such transformations have already reached the peripheries and cores of many middle European cities and have had an impact on the process of their urbanisation (Regina Bittner, 2007) by the reconfiguration of the urban fabric and its social life.
Although spaces in general are considered to be socially produced – no matter if they are de jure private or public property – the very same spaces can be at different times featureless non-places (Marc Augé 1992) or lived spaces, where only private concerns of a few individuals can be negotiated, or even a wider public might encounter for discussions. In previous research projects informal nodes – especially illegal markets were investigated – but just as single entities and at one specific timeslot only. What remained largely unexplored so far was emphasising on these nodes as polyrhythmic ensembles, linked to their temporal adaptability – reacting on daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms of traffic flows – as well as their interdependence of one another.
The (geo-political) position of Vienna concerning the corridors is of our particular interest: In Vienna three of the major PAN-European corridors are intersecting in its wider metropolitan region. Vienna is the meeting point of decision- and policymakers and the seat of headquarters of several private companies involved in planning and executing the expansion and upgrading of the (traffic) infrastructure in Eastern Europe, as well as the source and target destination of humans, goods, capital circulating via these nodes and employees regularly visiting them.
The points of departure for our research therefore are three nodes arranged in a triangle, one of its corners represented by Vienna, while the other two are located close to each end of the north-south axis of the PAN-European corridors where (post-socialist) transformation unfolded against different geo-political backdrops: in the border and port cities of Rousse/Giurgiu (BG/RO), and in Tallinn (EST). The clusters differ radically owing to their historical and current geo-political location, the quality and degree of their regulation by the state and legal formalisation, and the design of the hubs and nodes.
In the light of current political discourse in the West, which fosters fear of an invasion of cheap mobile labour and goods from the East, via these very corridors, it seems pertinent to show our dependence on such networks, by recalling the extent to which these “imports” underpin our living standards. A re-evaluation of dualistic discourse about the so-called East and West is also implicit in this focus on the nodes of mobility networks and the diverse range of mobility streams that pass through them. In the view of those multi-local social actors who work or stop at these nodes, the centre is increasingly far-removed from the (former) West, and the definition of centre and periphery increasingly needs to be challenged.
The project draws extensively on theories from interdisciplinary mobilities studies (Tim Cresswell 2011), in our case inspired by cultural anthropology, human geography and urban studies, and on mapping discourses, which, although fairly well established in the English-speaking world, are still under-represented in the German scientific community. By introducing this synthesis of theories and methods from interdisciplinary critical mobilities studies and performative or even immersive spatial strategies of research and representation drawn from artistic research practice, the project is likely to impact theoretical production and practice in a number of fields. In seeking to integrate highly contested or even seriously disputed art-based research in established scientific community discourse, the project consciously fosters a paradigm shift.

duminică, 22 februarie 2015

The book of the scientist, Vinzavod Art Centre, Moscow



10 FEBRUARY - 8 MARCH 2015

This exhibition is a programmatic one in the new sphere that we call “social science art”. It examines and displays research practices of social sciences as both the subject and context of artistic reflection. ..Its goal is an experiment in the area that Bruno Latour named “flat ontology.” On the one hand, the exhibition includes ethnographic photographs from two regions along the Volga River; on the other, these photographs are accompanied by commentary by different social scientists. Latour’s notion of flat ontology implies non-hierarchical relationship of scientific knowledge and its subject as is explored in the anthropology of science. In the context of this art project, the same non-hierarchical relationship exists between the photographs and the commentary.

Groups of researchers were invited to participate in the exhibition. They were given a series of photographs to comment on. We also enclosed some leading questions: “Who is in front of you? What do you think about the person or group of people in the picture, their material wealth, the character of the landscape or the situation captured by the photo?” The aim of the commentator was to create a format for the display of their commentary that was compatible with “artists’ books" (livre d’artiste) and the well-known genre of artists’ manuscripts, in which an artist creates illustrations for verses or a poem, and also, in some cases, writes out the text by hand. Each comment by a researcher, no matter how short, is an artifact of this “scientists’ book" (livre du scientifique).

Many of our colleagues who decided to participate in this experiment asked whether they got it right and whether they correctly understood what was depicted in the photographs. We replied that there were no right answers and that the commentary from the scientists was going to be in the exhibition on an equal footing with the photographs: as artifacts, as works of art that are the textual equivalent of a photograph, that is, an incomplete and somewhat arbitrary “snap-shots.” Here, in the last instance, the view of the photographer and the scientist is not the truth, an objective representation of reality, but an instrument of art. It is possible, however, to say the reverse. The result of the view of the scientist and the view of the photographer is a mini-ethnographic or mini-sociological sketch, quite accurate in its capacity as a photographic or sociological miniature.

From the point of view of this symmetry, this project is close to conceptual art, which introduces textual commentary into the framework of an image, as the conceptual artist Terry Atkinson, in his introduction to the first issue of Art-Language (1969), a journal for conceptual art, rhetorically asked: “Can this editorial … [as] an attempt to evince some outlines as to what ‘conceptual art’ is … count as a work of conceptual art?” Furthermore, as the photographer’s view and the social scientist’s view, taken together, pose new questions about both the optics of knowledge and about the composition and structure of the audience of the exhibition, this project is close to “ethnographic conceptualism,” an artistic and anthropological movement that uses methods of conceptual art in ethnography on the one hand, and conceptual art as a method of ethnographic research on the other. If we add that this experiment is also conducted with new aesthetics, and subject-matter that does not place science outside the picture’s frame, and make it a part of aesthetic reflection and artistic creation, then this is exactly what we are trying to do, creating a community that we call “the Department of Research Art.” The aim of this community is to create a space for experimentation in a flat ontology of the work of artists and scientists, a non-hierarchical atmosphere of cooperation not restricted to their professional boundaries.

Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov
Kristina Romanova
Sofia Gavrilova

joi, 5 februarie 2015

From slippers to flip-flops, researching the Global banal

Few years ago - in 2003-2004 I wrote my MA thesis on how people use slippers in a block of flats in Bucharest, Romania: a kind of trail, in-between private flats, and public corridors and shops around the corner, from where to buy fresh bread early in the morning (see Cristea, Gabriela. 2004. 'Slippers as Visual Marks of Class Formation: Anthropological Study of Everyday Politics in a Block of Flats in Bucharest, Romania' [unpublished thesis], Departament of Social Anthropology, Central European University.) What I can say is that I have enjoyed that fieldwork terribly and that I saw in it the potential to be developed into a visual project. I almost visualised the trails of those slippers...

Last year I came across this book + project. Similar, but at a different scale: globalization, many oriental places, colourful to look at.
I like how stories are attached to images and how the idea of trail makes one look differently at the world. It makes you feel that our small gestures and things, are not so small - that they belong to bigger flows and longer chains. With what implications? Everybody can look at this web-site and decide for him/herself. Flip Flop Trails...

luni, 26 ianuarie 2015

Store images and store together

Laboratorio di sociologia sociale' s idea is to put and store together images from anthropological and sociological researches. This project is based in University of Genova, Italy.
They also organise a conference and a CfP.

 CFP: The Slating Gaze/ Lo sguardo obliquo - Deadline, March 30 2015

vineri, 18 iulie 2014

Susan Hiller: An anthropologist who decided to become an artists

Susan Hiller
Susan Hiller, Work in Progress, Friday , 1980
Susan Hiller
Work in Progress, Friday 1980
© Susan Hiller.

Would like to know more about Hiller's 'process of collecting and restaging cultural artefacts and experiences' and 'how visual imagery can inform the understanding of intellectual ideas' (see

marți, 15 iulie 2014

100 of the Most Influential Ethnographies and Anthropology Texts

A selection:

An obvious reaction to looking at these titles is saying I have read this and that, and I would like to read this and that! But also, and here I feel some butterflies in my tummy - happyness, feeling that people around can start writing better ethnographies in anthropology, books to inspire...

luni, 13 ianuarie 2014

Money - to look and think at

Look in your wallet and see what does it contain... Money and other valuable stuff. How do museums display such things?
Curious about how the British Museum dealt with this revolutionary (because it talks about every day, ordinary) topic and how other museums deal with other 'ordinary' simple ideas? I detect a shift of paradigm in making displays: from being interested in displaying only beautiful appealing objects, museums started being also interested in useful objects. How do museums display the 'useful'?

I believe 'Money' is a topic for an exhibition which can be made around the world, in very many different ways. All national museums have coins from archeological excavations! Visitors care for money, I suppose. Classic exhibitions, critical ones, immaginative ones.
I dream of an exhibition whith a roulette...
Thinking at one example only, of a Museum of Gold, in Michael Taussig's book, 'My Cocaine Museum'.

One example of such an exhibition made at the British Museum: Room 68, Money.
Here, an image from their web-site:

Stories of money
Looking at the image, I expect to see coins, bacnotes, shells and different other forms of trading and exchanging goods. What is valuable for people around the world? Mobile phons, I see! Money as fetish, where is lack of money, do we see expensive telephones, inscriptions on coins (like the one above 'VOTES FOR WOMEN') and other marvels of our every day life.
I would make a pannel with present inscriptions: what wold people write today on money?
I would continue this exhibition with another one, on DEBT - following David Graeber's book.

But since I am not in London for the moment, I can only guess what such an exhibition might contain or say.

marți, 10 decembrie 2013

Photography, teenagers and art therapy

Anna Konik. An artist of whose artworks I saw on line. Looking at her photos I felt inspired and motivated somehow: they are simple, real, from the realm of our every day life.

Looking at Anna Konic's website I thought of making a seminar in a small city in south of Italy for teenagers. About images and artworks, about using a camera and understanding the world around as well as building themselves; how art can help them, how camera is a tool of inermedaing with their fears and motivate their ambitions.

Few lines about my first impression of Anna's website:
Grey squares, not so nice really, quite cheap web design, but inside....inside there are some shiny things (shiny for me, I suppose). I look at the photos and the extra videos, the appendixes - I always like to see what is not meant to be seen first: Hair, remains, old buildings - empty spaces, faces, boredom, poverty on faces, drunk. I look also on her CV and in a movie of herself: slim, modest, eastern european happyness of joining 'the world.' To me she looks determined, well organised. She likes to fill in her CV evvvvery single scholarship she took, evvrry single project she thought of, evvery seminar she held, and every other things. I am not going to make a list of her 'every.' (inner thought:  instead, I should make a list of my every!) But just to remark that in this obsessive reference to herself, one can read a certain joy of bringing up to the end some ideas and projects that people in general have. she not only had them, she also filled them, ticked them scrupulously.
How many passions artists have except art?
She seems to have. she made theatre, she participated and joined some/ various groups of therapy, she likes mountain climbing and extreme experiences, recollection, narrativity, she is interested in people and people's problems like 'being a migrant' , or 'a poor woman in a rich suburb of a wealthy town.' she seems to have always the camera turned on.

To me, she seems that she could have been many other things other than being an artist.
I like glimspes of her work. I fear the phenomenologists' part, the one where she reffers to big names and their proximity in that special place in Berlin. I cannot stop thinking how was that place in 1938 two years before the climax? let's go back to likings. I like the anthropological and human touch of her projects, and the imperfection of their presentation in the following site:

joi, 19 septembrie 2013

Art from bureaucracy and archives on display

Recently I started to be interested in how archival materials can be displayed in an attractive and intelligent way.
It is the researcher who wants to display artistically, or the artist who is fascinated by the scientificity and bureaucracy of the researcher?
This post will be made out of titles of books/ exhibitions/ artists concerned with these issues:
Start with 1
1. an article about an exhibition of the Bauhaus Archive in Germany


2. Forging Folklore, Disrupting Archives - an exhibition plus events organised 15 May-15 July 2014 in Goldsmiths College, Constance Howard Gallery with the special contribution of materials from the Special Collections, Goldsmiths.

3. A very good book on art practices and archives: - Sven Spieker (ed.), 2008. The Big Archive: Art from Bureaucracy. Cambridge&London: The MIT Press. The articles included were written by: Freud, Ducham, Breton, Corbusier, Lissitzky, Eisenstein, Susan Hiller, Michael Fehr, Andreea Fraser, Sophie Calle. Introduction: Ilya Kabakov - Sixteen Ropes.
4. Archive as Strategy
East Art Map: History is Not Given. Please Help to Construct It

duminică, 17 februarie 2013

Eunamus – European National Museums: Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen

Now, that the EUNAMUS project is completed, 

three ways to get a quick overview of Eunamus’ findings and policy implications.

 From Bodil Axelsson,

·         National Museums Making Histories in a Diverse Europe. This summary report brings together key points from three years of research in short, clear texts and compelling photos. It covers the role of museums as a stabilizing force for the changing nation, the varied ways museums perform this role, their use of exhibition and narrative strategies, the way their histories are dependent on local political conditions, and the resultant silences that deny a complete or complex history. It includes a substantive discussion of the ways in which European national museums deal with conflict, promoting partisan division, obscurantist ignorance, or future-oriented reconciliation. It is available from this webpage:
·         Striking a Balance: How national museums can contribute to a socially cohesive Europe. This policy brief summarises Eunamus findings, gives away research parameters, and includes recommendations for policy makers:
·         Short introductions to Eunamus nine open access reports are available in this pamphlet:
·         The entire project’s rich set of case studies and reports are available from the Eunamus website at

Among the most recent reports are
·         Voices from the Museum: Qualitative Research Conducted in Europe’s National Museums. Jocelyn Dodd, Ceri Jones, Andy Sawyer and Maria-Anna Tseliou. This study presents the findings from interviews and focus groups carried out at six European national museums with visitors and minority groups. It looks at the connections that can be made between national, European and minority identities and how these frame very different experiences of the national museum. Available from this webpage:
·         National Museums and the Negotiation of Difficult Pasts. Conference Proceedings from EUNAMUS Brussels 26-27 January 2012. Dominique Poulot, José Maria Lanzarote Gurial & Felicity Bodenstein (eds). The papers examine museum policies in dealing with conflicts of displaced communities or contested religious heritage; the role national museums play in handling historical issues that are socially and politically sensitive; and cases related to restitution. Available from this webpage:

·         Entering the Minefields: the Creation of New History Museums in Europe. Conference Proceedings from EUNAMUS Brussels 25 January 2012. Bodil Axelsson, Christine Dupont & Chantal Kesteloot (eds). This collection presents four inside stories from the Deutsches Historisches Museum, the Polish History Museum, the House of European History and the Maison de l'Histoire de France (launched during the 2007 Presidential campaign and closed after the political shift 2012). It turns out that new history museums and critical research respond in similar ways to pressures from governments and funders. Among the responses are professional networking, the promotion of dialogues, and the sharing and accepting of a plurality of legitimate standpoints and identities. Available from this webpage:

joi, 28 iunie 2012

The fetish of 'culture' in Romanian post-socialist society

ICR is the Romanian Institute of Culture. Its branches in important capitals of the world (London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Istambul, New York) are important sources of representation for Romania, but also of outcome for Romanian contemporary artists. Through ICR, Dan Perjovsky exhibited at MOMA for example...

After the new government in power decided that ICR should be moved from the tutelage of the presidency, under the tutelage of the Senat/ Parliament, 'workers in the cultural field' in Romania and representatives and members of civil society started protests.

Some of them initiated a petition, saying that they do not sustain the present director of ICR, Horia Roman Patapievici, but that they do not agree with the way the change was done through ordonanta de urgenta. (petition Mungiu, Parvulescu).
Even so, in the following days, a march and a protest in front of ICR affirmed much more the support for Patapievici, than anything else. 'Marsul papioanelor' was a tribute to Patapievici himself and to the 'high ellitist culture' of Romania.

The following link to an article on summarises the attempts that the Romanian cultural ellite, and their suporters all over the world, did in trying to stop the decision of the Government to change the present director of ICR, Horia Roman Patapievici.
By making a summary of all the letters of support that the present direction of ICR has received, the text presents in a certain way the kinship/ lineage of all the suporters of the Romanian high cultural field.
To me this text is very problematic. On the one hand it shows the support Patapievici received from 'big names' in the field of culture, and on the other hand, how good PR organisation he used in asking for this help all over the world. After eight years in power at ICR, the text transmitted to me that Patapievici really wants to keep his position.
An interesting annalysis about the relation between culture and politics (in both the decision of change as well as in the protests) could be found in more articles on Critic Atac, as well as in the comments posted by some of the readers of this articles, for example:
Patapievici was politically named by the president Basescu and played a very important political role in the last presidential campaign when, in an interview for a Spanish newspaper (La Vanguardia), he denigrated on sexual issues the counter-candidate of Basescu. Knowing that the news was instantly diffused on Spanish media, and that so many Roumanians in Spain watch TV, the outcome of Patapievici's position is easy to guess. Basescu wan the ellections not with the suport of Romanians in Romania, but from the suporters of Romanains abroad. (A very important episode of the ellections in Paris, where another important cultural figure, Baconsky was ambasados, deserves further annalysis.)
 Isn'it this politics?

Why certain institutions and people get so much support from so called 'civil society' and cultural workers in Romania? Was the field of culture opposed to any other fields in post-socialist Romania? Why 'cultural workers' and artists know to fight so well for their rights and intersts and so little for the rights of the Romanian society at large?

I believe that a research on some projects founded by ICR (before and during Patapievici in power) would be very useful in this discussion. : what kind of conferences, exhibitions and events did ICR organise. Who participated there, how the money were spent? What was the real impact of these events?