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  • Ana-Daniela Sultana

The art language of the East

It’s remarkable to notice that almost three decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain Eastern Europe (this term saturated with geopolitical, cultural and socioeconomic connotations) is still arousing considerably interest in the field of contemporary art. In the context of ‘Europeanization’ curatorial narratives triggered by the EU enlargement waves from 2004 and 2007, there has been, throughout Europe, a great deal of exhibitions treating the negotiation of post-communist identities, the European East-West dichotomy or the very mapping of art from the ‘former Eastern Bloc’. ‘Breakthrough: Perspectives on Art from the Ten New Member States’ (The Hague, 2004), ‘Check-In Europe: Reflecting Identities in Contemporary Art’ (Munich, 2006), ‘1989. End of History or Beginning of the Future?’ (Vienna, 2009-2010), ‘The promises of the past: a discontinuous history of art in former Eastern Europe’ (Paris, 2010) are only some examples in this sense.

However, the elaborated traveling exhibition ‘ROAD SHOW EAST part II’ put on view at the beginning of this year is employing this sort of discourse from a fresh, different, topical and very factual perspective, focusing on the role of language.

The project opened to the public on the 8th of November 2017 at the Knoll Gallery in Budapest, in a first phase and toured throughout the cities of Timișoara (February 24, Casa Artelor/Pygmalion Gallery), Belgrade (February 27, Ostavinska galerija), Zagreb (February 28, Greta Gallery), and Ljubljana (March 1, Chemical Institute), in a second phase. The promoter of this courageous endeavor, the Viennese gallery 12-14 contemporary, will be its final venue in June this year.

Opening of the show at Pygmalion Gallery, Casa Artelor, Timișoara, Photo Credit © Daliana Iacobescu

Pointing out the reason for choosing this intricate subject matter, Denise Parizek advocates in the curatorial statement:

'To the east among other things because the region ex-Yugoslavia was the last great war site in Europe and many of the participating artists still know from their own childhood experiences about living in war times, which we in the west fortunately not have experienced since my generation. Towards the east, because the mistakes of the Union so far are most obvious and the acceptance in the Union is the lowest.’

Agnes Hamvas and Hubert Hasler, Hänsel & Gretel, Photo Credit © Daliana Iacobescu

Initiated by Agnes Hamvas and Hubert Hasler, two artists affiliated to 12-14 contemporary - which is by the way very central located in Vienna on the Schleifmülgasse - ROAD SHOW EAST featured an interesting and homogeneous selection of works. Besides photo and video installations telling powerful or poetic stories (one of which being the joint work by Agnes Hamvas and Hubert Hasler titled ‘Hänsel & Gretel’), there were on view a group performance by Noima, an eatable piece of work by Adrijan Karavdic, a few mysterious figures hidden in a kind of cuboid forms by Jiři Kočica and a fascinating embroidery by Bojana Stamenkovic.

Bojana Stamenkovic, Sworn Virgina, Photo Credit © Daliana Iacobescu

The exhibition sees itself as ‘an artist statement for a united Europe without any borders’ and is worthy of your attention (it also has a facebook page documenting each stop of the tour) for the artists involved, who are just as valuable as the many iconic and historic household names, which are usually part of projects built around the so-called ‘art from Central and Eastern Europe’ and have been around for a good long while.

Jiři Kočica, Art side the box, Photo Credit © Daliana Iacobescu


Amalie Atkins, Agnes Hamvas, Hubert Hasler, NOIMA, Dragoș Hanciu, Gani Llalloshi, Andraš Nagy, Adrijan Karavdić, Jiri Kocica, Michael Koch, Siniša Labrović, Bojana Stamenkovic

Text by Ana-Daniela Sultana

Photos by Daliana Iacobescu

12-14 contemporary

Schleifmühlgasse 12-14

A-1040 Vienna, Austria



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