Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Overcoming - Remembering - Mourning

2008, 29/1 Jutta Vinzent, University of Birmingham,
curator of the exhibition of Overcoming Dictatorships

'Overcoming - Remembering - Mourning. Contemporary art from six post-dictatorial European countries', Research Seminar of the Department of German, University of Birmingham

Jutta Vinzent chairing a discussion of project artists
in the Bucharest House of Writers on 8 Dec 2007.
(photo: José M. Faraldo, Dresden)

"While many scholars have applied theories of dis-locations to physical migration (including myself in Identity and Image. Refugee Artists from Nazi Germany in Britain, 1933-1945, Kromsdorf/Weimar: VDG Verlag, 400 pp), I will explore the question as to how artists who experienced mental migration caused by a collective political-economic upheaval respond visually to their own specific dislocations and how they address subjects of identity and nation.


Interest in the contemporary art produced in those countries involved, particularly the former Soviet satellite states, in the west is increasing. In 2005 the Modern Museum at Oxford organised an exhibition under the title Arrivals – Art from the New Europe. It has grown out of a two-year collaboration between Modern Art Oxford and Turner Contemporary introducing the work of artists from the expanded European Union. The publication covers the ten Arrivals countries: Poland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovakia, Estonia, Hungary and Malta and includes images of the artists’ works, installation shots from the exhibitions, behind the scenes photographs and specially commissioned essays by gallery directors, curators, critics and art historians from across the EU.

The exhibition attempts to overcome its title ‘Arrivals’ (as if these countries have not been there before) and a treatment of art works which is in parts similar to what has become known in Art History as Primitivism (the new, the exotic) in the prefaces and introductions by having valuable essays from art historians, writing from the perspective of each country.

While the selection of the countries for this exhibition is based on the relationship to Europe, those for the exhibition After the Wall, shown at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm in 1999 and at the Ludwig-Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest in 2000, primarily focused on previously communist countries. It was dedicated to art and culture in post-communist Europe.

Both exhibition catalogues are organised by countries to recognise each individual history. Different from our project, however, After the Wall interpreted art in a broader sense, including music, film and photography from 20 countries, among them all those formerly Soviet satellite states involved in this project.

The major difference to both of these shows, however, is that the works for our exhibition has grown out of workshops organised as part of the EU-funded project on ‘Overcoming Dictatorship’. These workshops offer the possibility for the artists to get in contact with each other, to exchange experiences which they have undergone in their countries. In addition, we have opened a blog as an electronic communication platform between the seven workshops.

Because of the kind of set-up, the artists had a major say about the inclusion of works. Therefore, it is not only in some sense a communal work, but also methodologically informed by oral history. The meetings which are filmed constitute primary material for this project and also for this paper..." (More)

Further presentations by Jutta Vinzent:

2008, 4/4 Jutta Vinzent, 'Ideological locations and dis-locations. Visual responses from post-communist countries', 34th annual conference organised by the AAH (Association of Art Historians, Britain; topic: Location: The Museum, The Academy and the Studio), Tate Britain, Tate Modern and Chelsea College of Art & Design, London, 2-4 April 2008

2008, 15/5 Jutta Vinzent, 'New Europe - Identities in transition. Contemporary art from six post-dictatorial European countries', Research Seminar of the Department of History of Art, University of Birmingham