The Max Wasserman Forum on Contemporary Art: Eastern Europe Today and the Role of Art in Times of Change

November 14, 2008, 6:00PM

Stata Center
32 Vassar Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

Eastern Europe Today and the Role of Art in Times of Change will begin on Friday, November 14 with an evening screening of recent video works from and about Eastern Europe. The Forum continues Saturday, November 15, with a daylong series of panel discussions.

 

Friday, November 14, 2008
Ray and Maria Stata Center, Rm. 123, 6 PM

Untitled: 
a selection of videos and film works from and across Baltic countries about politics of (non)belonging, accelerated redrawing of maps, national education system and other transcultural surprises.

A selection of video and film works selected and introduced by Paris-based, Lithuanian curator and writer Raimundas Malasauskas will feature works by Estonian artists Jaan Toomik and Valie Export Society, Lithuanians Arturas Bumsteinas, Deimantas Narkevicius, and Arturas Raila as well as fragments of CAC TV (Vilnius), and a video of John Baldessari singing in Lithuanian (translated by Pierre Bismuth & Jonathan Monk.)  Malasauskas was formerly curator at the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he co-produced CAC TV and So-Called Records (www.rye.tw).  Most recently Malasauskas was a visiting professor at the San Francisco Art Institute.  He currently serves as an independent curator for Artists Space (NYC). 

 

This program is FREE and open to the general public.

 

The annual Max Wasserman Forum on Contemporary Art was established in memory of Max Wasserman (MIT Class of 1935), a founding member of the Council of the Arts at MIT.  This public forum is funded through the generosity of the late Jeanne Wasserman, and addresses critical issues in contemporary art and culture through the participation of renowned scholars, artists, and arts professionals.  The forum is administered and presented by the MIT List Visual Arts Center.

 

Schedule for Saturday, November 15:

 

Saturday, November 15, 2008 
Stata Center, Building 32, Room 123

PANEL SESSION 1
Historicizing Eastern European Art/The Delay
10:00-11:15 AM

Moderator: Zdenka Badovanic 
Director, Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia; writer, and curator

A long-lived stereotype of Eastern European art was: if it’s not derived from communist ideology then it is a copy of Western aesthetic concepts, but always with a delay. An important element in the self-definition of the Eastern European artist is the search for unique historical traditions and interpretive contexts. Art institutions, art historians, and to a large extent artists themselves are currently endeavoring to reconstruct their own history. This panel will explore the ways in which that has happened over the last two decades. 

Panelists:  
Boris Groys, (Karlsruhe and New York)  philosopher, essayist, art critic, and media theorist.
Vit Havranek, (Prague, Czech Republic) artist, curator, and director of the TranziDisplay Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic.
Sezgin Boynik, (Prizren, Kosovo) sociologist, editor, and writer

BREAK 11:15-11:30 AM

PANEL SESSION 2
Improvised Strategies in the Face of a Cultural Void
11:30 AM-12:45 PM
 
Moderator: Joanna Mytowska, (Warsaw, Poland) 
Director of the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland and one of the three original founders of the influential Foksal Gallery (1995) and the Foksal Gallery Foundation (1997) in Warsaw.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, former communist countries in Eastern Europe reconnected with contemporary activities in the global art world. In comparison with their European neighbors, a cultural void was experienced in these countries due to the lack of institutions and systems for art production and distribution. Yet this lack  created a space for private organizations to address their local context in relation to Western art. This historical research inspired new art in these regions.

Panelists:
Vit Havranek, (Prague, Czech Republic) artist, curator, and director of the Tranzit, Prague
Attila Tordai-S., (Cluj Romania) curator, editor, and writer. 

LUNCH BREAK 12:45-2:00 PM

PANEL SESSION 3
From Eastern Europe to New Europe:  Dynamics, Agenda, and Perspectives (The Push and Pull of Contemporary Art from Eastern Europe)
2-3:15 PM

Moderator: Iara Boubnova, (Sofia, Bulgaria) 
curator, art critic, founding Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia. 

What happens when utopia becomes history? When euphoria transforms or mutates into disappointment? When the past is a subject of nostalgic anesthetization? When the metaphor for the 
future is called normalization? The process of globalization may cause a post-traumatic syndrome in those attempting to overcome exoticism and isolation. Where and how can one find a space for art?

Panelists
Luchezar Boyadjiev, (Sofia, Bulgaria) art historian, curator, and visual artist 
Ekaterina Degot, (Moscow, Russia) art historian, art critic, and curator
Georg Schöllhammer, (Vienna, Austria) curator, writer, and editor in chief of the Documenta 12 Magazine     

BREAK 3:15-3:30 PM

PANEL SESSION 4
Artists vs. Nationalists: Who Will Take Over the Public Space and Social Imagination?  Artistic Strategies in the Face of Polish Nationalist Politics of Memory 

3:30-4:45 PM

Presented by Political Critique, Warsaw, Poland. (Joanna Erbel, Maciej Gdula, and Igor Stokfiszewski) Political Critique is a quarterly left-wing journal that brings together students, journalists, literary and theatre critics, artists, and social activists, promoting discussions, art presentations, and workshops with an emphasis on social and political projects. 

Public space always has been a battlefield where representatives of opposing ideologies try to take as much ground as possible. Under communism, artists devised interventionist strategies in contested public spaces in Warsaw where the forces of governmental authority were always present. Political Critique will present these works in the context of Warsaw today and the larger memory structures of Poland.

BREAK 4:45-5:15 PM

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Boris Groys—The Medium Religion

5:15-6:30 PM

Groys will discuss the rise of politically active and influential religions that followed the demise of communism and their continuing role today with examples from both Russia and the Islamic world.

Boris Groys is a philosopher, essayist, art critic, media theorist, and an internationally acclaimed expert on late-Soviet postmodern art and literature and the Russian avant-garde. In the 1970s, Groys, who had studied philosophy and mathematics at Leningrad State University, immersed himself in the unofficial cultural scene in Russia’s capitals, coining the term “Moscow conceptualism.” In 1981, he immigrated to West Germany, where he earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Müenster. Best-known as the author of The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond, (MIT Press) Groys has recently released Art Power, (MIT Press) a collection of essays examining modern and contemporary art according to its ideological function. This overview situates contemporary art within the deeper context of the Modernist 
revolution, urbanism, new technologies, and the post communist era. Other recent publications include Under Suspicion: A Phenomenology of the Media and Ilya Kabakov. The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment (Afterall/MIT Press, 2006).  Groys 
has also edited collections of articles in Russian and German and has written more than a hundred articles. Since 1994, in addition to serving as the curator and organizer of numerous international art exhibitions and conferences, Groys has been a Professor of Aesthetics, Art History, and Media Theory at the Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe.

PANELIST BIOGRAPHIES

Zdenka Badovinac, Ljubljana, Slovenia 

Zdenka Badovinac has been the director of Moderna galerija (The Museum of Modern Art) in Ljubljana since 1993. She has organized numerous exhibitions presenting both Slovenian and international artists. Zdenka initiated the first collection of Eastern European art, Moderna galerija’s 2000+ Arteast Collection.

Iara Boubnova, Sofia, Bulgaria

Iara Boubnova, curator and art critic from Sofia was born in Moscow, Russia. Iara has lived in Sofia since 1984 and works as a curator at the National Gallery for Foreign Art for the Department of East European Art. Between 2003 and 2006 she was the Project Leader of the Visual Seminar multidisciplinary project dedicated to the urban environment of neo-capitalism. 

Luchezar Boyadjiev, Sofia, Bulgaria     

Luchezar Boyadjiev is an art historian, curator, and visual artist with a focus on new media and conceptual art. Luchezar is a founding member of the Sofia Institute of Contemporary Art and has lectured internationally. His recent exhibitions include 5 Views to Mecca (and other scapes), Feinkost Gallery, Berlin, and Art, Price and Value, CCCS/Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy.

Sezgin Boynik, Prizren, Kosovo    

Sezgin Boynik is a sociologist, editor, and writer based in Prizren, Kosovo. As an author for and editor of journals for art and cultural studies, he has written on such topics as the subversive resistance movements in Yugoslavia in the 1960s and 1970s, radical political ideas, and Neue Slowenische Kunst.

Ekaterina Degot, Moscow, Russia 

Ekaterina Degot, PhD, is an independent curator and writer, and the editor-in-chief of the art page on www.openspace.ru/art. Curator and co-curator of shows Body Memory: Underwear of the Soviet Era, Soviet Art Between Trotsky and Stalin, and Citizen, Mind Yourselves! Dmitri Prigov, she teaches in Moscow Alexander Rodchenko New Media and Photography School. 

Joanna Erbel, Warsaw, Poland

Joanna Erbel is a sociologist, photographer, and a member of the board of Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique). Joanna is a feminist and is currently earning her PhD at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Warsaw. Her main fields of interest are sociology of the city, social movements, and art. 

Maciej Gdula, Warsaw, Poland    

Maciej Gdula is a sociologist, publicist, senior lecturer at Institute of Sociology, and a Member of the Editorial Board of Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique). He earned his Ph.D in the Graduate Institute of Sociology at the University of Warsaw. Maciej combines scientific and theoretical activity with engagement in public debate in Poland. 

Boris Groys, New York, NY

Boris Groys is a philosopher, essayist, art critic, media theorist, and an internationally acclaimed expert on late-Soviet postmodern art and literature, as well as on the Russian avant-garde. In the 1970s, Groys, who had studied philosophy and mathematics at Leningrad State University, immersed himself in the unofficial cultural scene in Russia’s capitals, coining the term “Moscow conceptualism.” In 1981, he immigrated to West Germany, where he earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Müenster. Best- known as the author of The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond, (MIT Press), Groys has recently released Art Power, (MIT Press) a collection of essays  examining modern and contemporary art according to its ideological function. This overview situates contemporary art within the deeper context of the Modernist revolution, urbanism, new technologies, and the post communist era. Other recent publications include Under Suspicion: A Phenomenology of the Media and Ilya Kabakov. The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment (Afterall/MIT Press, 2006). Groys has also edited collections of articles in Russian and German and has written more than a hundred articles. Since 1994, in addition to serving as the curator and organizer of numerous international art exhibitions and conferences, Groys has been a Professor of Aesthetics, Art History, and Media Theory at the Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe.

Vít Havránek, Prague, Czech Republic

Vít Havránek is a theoretician, artist, curator, and director of the Tranzit, an organization 
that serves a network of autonomous initiatives in contemporary art in the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia. In 2007 he became director of the Tranzitdisplay, a resource center for contemporary art based in Prague, Czech Republic. Vít has worked as a curator for the Municipal Gallery and National Gallery in Prague.


Joanna Mytkowska, Warsaw, Poland 

Joanna Mytkowska is a curator, art critic, and editor and has been the director of Warsaw National Museum of Modern Art since 2007. She is the co-founder and co-director of the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw. She was the curator of the Polish Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale and of the Centre Georges Pompidou. 


Georg Schöllhammer, Vienna, Austria

Georg Schöllhammer is an independent curator and Editor in Chief of the magazine Springerin—Hefte für Gegenwartskunst, which he co-founded in 1995. He was Editor in Chief of Documenta 12 and head of Documenta 12 Magazines. Georg is currently working on a catalogue raisonné of the oeuvre of KwieKulik, and an exhibition and research conference on the work of Július Koller (Bratislava, Eindhoven, 2009). 

Igor Stokfiszewski, Warsaw, Poland  

Igor Stokfiszewski is a curator as well as a literature, theatre, and art critic. Between 2001-2006 he was the co-editor of Ha!art an interdisciplinary cultural magazine and he currently works for the Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique) magazine. Igor writes as a critic for daily newspapers, weekly magazines, and literary and art magazines. 

Attila Tordai-S., Cluj, Romania

    
Attila Tordai-S. is a curator and editor, based in Cluj, Romania. In 1999 he co-founded and currently runs the Studio Protokoll. Attila is a Coordinating Editor of Balcon Collection, IDEA Publishing House.

Directions to the Ray and Maria Stata Center:

By T, take the Red line to the Kendall/MIT stop, head west (away from Boston and the Longfellow bridge) along Main St. cross Ames St. and proceed for one block. On the left there is a construction site–the Stata Center is located next to the construction site at 32 Vassar St – enter through the Vassar St. entrance – Lecture Hall Room 123 is located on the first floor. (The building designed by Frank Gehry is notable for its striking architecture.)

By car, coming across the Longfellow Bridge or from Memorial Drive, follow signs for Kendall Square.  Limited metered parking is available on Ames Street.  A parking garage is located at the Cambridge Center complex (entrance on Ames between Main and Broadway) during business hours and on campus after business hours and on weekends.

 

For more information, contact:

Mark Linga
mlinga@mit.edu
[617] 253-4680