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Confrontations: Sessions in East European Art History



Library Seminar

By confrontations, on 5 November 2019

Further group seminars expanded the discussion away from Czechoslovak art histories, bringing perspectives from Bulgarian, Romanian, Estonian and Latvian art contexts.

Dessislava Dimova examined the practice of Vladimir Ivanov from the 1970s and 1980s to open up the debate around the supposed lack of modernist and neo-avant-garde traditions in Bulgaria, pointing to the interchangeability of abstract lines and human figures.

Corina Apostol focused on the period of the 1980s, problematising the porous divide between the official art of the late socialist period in Romania and the critical and artistic strategies that bridged activism, community art, performance and social practice.

Gregor Taul shared his research into Soviet monumental decorative art, in tracking down surviving murals and designs in often derelict public buildings and factories and returning to them a systematic art historical analysis, befitting historical works of public art that deserve to be preserved and restored rather than allowed to deteriorate and disappear.

Ieva Astahovska examined the trajectory of the notion of Baltic art as a distinct branch of East European art through international exhibitions and biennials, exploring its importance for the development of a post-Soviet regional identity.


Metelkova Group Seminar

By confrontations, on 29 April 2019

After the insightful introduction to Slovenian art through the Modern galerija’s collection and a visit to the neighbouring International Centre of Graphic Art, which through its long-running biennial conveyed the intricacies of exhibition diplomacy in non-aligned Yugoslavia, the group headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (MSUM). The Confrontations seminars continued in a comparative spirit by examining the specificities of Croatian and Slovenian views of Yugoslav art history, as well as expanding the discussion further. Constanze Fritzsch spoke about Socialist Realism: A sublation of art into life as an abstract painter like Hermann Glöckner would have understood it?, complicating the established narratives of the distinctions between socialist realism and abstract art. Daniel Véri spoke about Conflicting Narratives: The Memory of the Holocaust in 1960s Hungarian Art, distinguishing between the restrictive format of official monumental commemorations and the more testing approaches to Holocaust memory in the work of experimental artists.