[-empyre-] Welcome to empyre Week 4:Rethinking Curatorial Options: Globally

Kristine Stiles awe3 at frontier.com
Sun Apr 29 05:22:21 EST 2012


The Soros legacy in Eastern Europe and throughout the former Soviet Union is profound. Periferic is a direct outgrowth of the identification of artists throughout Romania like Matei Bejenaru, who organized and directed Periferic, for example. Having worked in Romania myself almost every year from 1991 until  2006, I had the very great privilege of watching and participating in the explosion of the contemporary art scene there. I will never forget giving a four-hour lecture on the history of global performance and conceptual art at the Bucharest Art Academy in 1992, talking until I lost my voice and used up all the chalk in the school, writing and erasing on blackboards. In 1992, I also lectured at the University of Bucharest on postmodernism and taught a seminar there on "Trauma in Art, Literature and Film" in 1995, and much more. 

During those early years, I also had occasion to do a lot of work in the countries Soros supported culturally, and it was the same story everywhere. Soros money paid to publish thousands of artist's monographs throughout Eastern Europe and the former USSR, paid for fantastic exhibitions, and really opened up what had been a moribund closed system. The affect of all that continues everywhere.

I also distinctly remember how in Moldova the brilliant scholar/curator Octavian Esanu, who was then the first director of the Soros Centre in Chisinau, literally used Soros money not only to create exhibitions, catalogues, and conferences but also to mentor artists in contemporary art. Pavel Braila was one of those artists, and Pavel (then called Pasha) later produced amazing works like his film "Shoes for Europe," 2002, which was one of the memorable works from Documenta 11. I remember Pavel in the late 1990s in Chisinau as a young artist growing in that vibrant atmosphere. 

As for "new media," everyone wanted to integrate it into their work, immediately following the events of 1989. But most had to start from the ground up because there had been absolutely zero support for such work before Soros. I could be wrong but I think Soros partially or fully supported Dan Perjovschi's extraordinary work "Scan," 1993. "Scan" includes three canvases on which Dan drew grids and then filled each box with a head. (Dan estimates that there are some 15,000 drawings on the three combined canvases, which when hung together is about 10' high by 16' wide!) Then he built a primitive, but very clever, scanning system that screened the images, one head at a time, on a closed-circuit video. When we showed the piece at Duke's Nasher Museum of Art, as part of the retrospective I curated on Dan and Lia Perjovschi in 2007, we broadcast the drawings on the Internet. So many many more similar stories.  It would be great to talk at length about all this. 


On Apr 28, 2012, at 2:29 PM, <Christiane_Paul at whitney.org> <Christiane_Paul at whitney.org> wrote:

> Thanks so much, very interesting! I knew about the Biennial installation but didn't know about Kalinderu and had missed the Speed Show. Is Periferic still going on?  The ideal of course would be to have "new media" integrated into the art world at large (rather than shown in venues exclusively dedicated to it), but that integration seldom seems to happen (at least in the US and large parts of Europe). I don't have enough insight to know what is left of the "Soros legacy" and the support that media arts received in Eastern Europe.
> C.
> ________________________________________
> From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of reVoltaire [revoltaire at gmail.com]
> Sent: Friday, April 27, 2012 10:34 AM
> To: soft_skinned_space
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Welcome to empyre Week 4:Rethinking Curatorial Options: Globally
> hi Cristiane,
> in 2002 kinema ikon organized a simposium dedicated to new media at
> the arad art museum. we invited the few artists involved in new media.
> with the occasion we launched the alteridme.exe hypermedia
> installation (later exhibited at Venice Biennial, romanian pavilion).
> at that time new media works were ehibited at Kalinderu Media Lab and
> Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest
> (http://www.mnac.ro/previous2003.htm), Periferic Biennial at Iasi
> (http://www.periferic.org/), last year Speed Show Bucharest
> (http://speedshow.net/speed-show-traces-bucharest/).
> But now there is no exclusive new media art - just mixed media - video
> installations and objects.
> best,
> calin
> On Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 5:16 PM,  <Christiane_Paul at whitney.org> wrote:
>> Hi Calin,
>> thanks again -- the Carlova project looks beautiful! You mention that the Romanian art scene is currently focused on painting. I'm interested in the role that "new media" art plays in the Romania -- is there a 'scene,' is this art shown within Romania (and if so at what venues) or does it migrate to the festival scene of other European countries?
>> Thanks,
>> C.
>> ________________________________________
>> From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of reVoltaire [revoltaire at gmail.com]
>> Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 4:03 AM
>> To: soft_skinned_space
>> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Welcome to empyre Week 4:Rethinking Curatorial Options: Globally
>> Thank you all for your comments and kind words.
>> (Christiane, your book "Digital art" is on kinema ikon's library, and
>> the exhibition organized by Tim - "Contact Zones: The Art of CD-Rom"
>> we consider it a reference for the way we started our research in new
>> media.)
>> Excerpt from kinema ikon catalog published in 2003
>> Contextual history of kinema ikon by George Sabau*:
>> (*G.S. is the founder and the theorist of the group)
>> http://kinema-ikon.net/pages/txt.htm
>> "After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, we could answer the
>> invitations addressed to us, the most important being that, already
>> mentioned, at the G. Pompidou Center, only just to become aware of
>> having missed all of the trains of experimental movie, because the
>> trend, the interest were already focused on video art, while the
>> multimedia technology had had a powerful start too.
> As regards the
>> reception of the ki movies, a question from the audience in Cinéma du
>> Musée stuck to my memory: “How come that in a regime you considered
>> totalitarian you could freely (sic) produce anticommunist movies?” No
>> author in no film proposed such an objective, in the first place
>> because this would have been fatal for the workshop’s destiny, and,
>> secondly, because the group members were simply preoccupied by the
>> relevance of new audio-visual expression. Therefore, it was not about
>> a cultural dissidence – all the dislike of the ki members towards the
>> communist system taken into account – but a workshop open to young
>> artists from various domains, and having the vocation of experiment
>> upon cinematographic language. I accept the fact that, after an hour’s
>> projection, a confusing reception effect, of a subtextual nature, was
>> produced, in the sense that the global perception of the movies
>> pregnantly revealed the suffocating climate of an oppressive regime."
>> Truth is that we only in 1994 succeeded in purchasing a computer for
>> kinema ikon for the sole purpose to edit the first issue of the
>> intermedia magazine – a magazine that wishes to create topics rather
>> than to comment on them. Toiling on the first issue I learned the way
>> a computer works and logically, I tried to produce some art works
>> using this new medium. What truly fascinated me was how the HELP of
>> each soft worked – in other words, I was captivated by hyperlinks.
>> This is how we made the group’s first cd.rom – opera prima in 1996.
>> Then I started the series of personal interactive works that were
>> accepted in new media festivals (Osnabruek, ISEA Liverpool and ISEA
>> Paris, FILE Sao Paulo, Art on The Net Tokyo, Viper etc) and during
>> those early beginnings, I had no idea how other works on cd.rom
>> looked.
>> After the internet big bang I truly got connected into the digital
>> world. In Romania there was a certain reticence towards new media.
>> However, several fine projects were produced: the "context" project
>> for the Romanian pavilion at the Venice Biennial in 2001 (curators:
>> Patatics and Bertalan), 00101010 exhibition Soros Center for
>> Contemporary Art (Curator: Calin Dan). In the last years, the Romanian
>> art scene is occupied by painting – the so called Cluj School of
>> painting (Adrian Ghenie, Serban Savu, Plan B Gallery Berlin/Cluj).
>> About the kinema ikon group: it is not involved politically,
>> ideologically or socially.  We had this type of experiences between
>> December 1989 – 1994 when we published the “Conversatia” magazine and
>> when we thought we can directly contribute in changing things: "from
>> communism 2 capitalism with good intentions" (it could be an
>> exhibition title). But we understood that we are good only at being
>> simply playful and atypical.
>> We had a period when we produced only digital works, after 2005 we
>> integrated a younger generation that gravitates around the KF coffee
>> shop/alternative venue and they are comfortable in using any type of
>> media. With this generation I will organize the new ki exhibits in the
>> future white cube at the art museum in Arad. Soon, very soon.
>> But I'd like to present you a recent project, a dadaist diary: in late
>> 70's an experimental underground new wave romanian band called Rodion
>> GA was commissioned to compose the soundtrack for a SF movie. I don't
>> know why but another musician was selected and the Rodion's music
>> remained unused.  So, I illustrated the soundtrack using rare footage
>> from my personal archive (filmed by an amateur filmmaker in the 60's)
>> combined with the titles of the only 5 poems written by one of the
>> pioneers of romanian literature - Vasile Carlova (1809-1831). This
>> ready media files contains some major events of my childhood: the
>> carnival, the annual trip to Debelagora, the visit to Shoes
>> Factory....
>> revoltaire.net/carlova
>> best,
>> calin man
>> On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 6:24 AM, Timothy Conway Murray <tcm1 at cornell.edu> wrote:
>>> Dear Calin,
>>> Thanks ever so much for sharing your informative post with the -empyre- community.  Although we've had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate in the past, I've never heard your fascinating account of the ideological/political trajectory of your work over the last 27 years of Arad.  You provide a fascinating account of 'Rethinking Curatorial Options, Globally.'
>>> Regarding your comments about the early risk of your work, I'm wondering whether you might elaborate of the relation of your early work on the internet in relation to risk.  Was the virtual framework considered to be an alternative to risk or its extension?  Your comments reminded me of the days when I carried your CD-Roms and those of about 40 other artists across various borders for a few years when curating "Contact Zones: The Art of CD-Rom" (https://contactzones.cit.cornell.edu/).  When camouflaging the artworks as "music" when crossing national borders, I was responding to concerns about the risky nature of virtual responses to sexuality, pornography, politics, and ecology that were so elaborately and enigmatically presented by that generation of new media artists.  Even when mounting the show in museums and public spaces, I found myself being encouraged not to call attention to the particularities of content embedded in so many files.  I thus find myself wondering about the political or ideological thrust of the kinema ikon group, or even its aesthetic thrust in relation to digital media.
>>> Looking forward to hearing more.
>>> Best,
>>> Tim
>>> Director, Society for the Humanities
>>> Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
>>> Professor of Comparative Literature and English
>>> A. D. White House
>>> Cornell University
>>> Ithaca, New York. 14853
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of reVoltaire [revoltaire at gmail.com]
>>> Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 8:39 AM
>>> To: soft_skinned_space
>>> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Welcome to empyre Week 4:Rethinking Curatorial Options: Globally
>>> hi everyone!
>>> thank you Renate for the introduction and invitation, thank you Tim.
>>> it is my pleasure to be guest on this list.
>>> from "Happening mise-en-Seine" to "Wunderkammer & Other Apparatus"
>>> (http://revoltaire.net/empyre)
>>> It is quite possible that my intervention will seem rather
>>> unprofessional due to the autobiographic references that lace the text
>>> henceforward. My activity as a curator was and still is tied to my own
>>> work and the work of the kinema ikon group. Now is the time to mention
>>> that I live in a small town called Arad, in western Transylvania,
>>> where I can still find the Austro-Hungarian spirit scattered in the
>>> small things. The museum where I work was founded 99 years ago and I
>>> am with it for the last 27 years. In the beginning I was a
>>> photographer, and since 1990, when the kinema ikon group became a part
>>> of the museum, I became a curator along with the founder of the group,
>>> George Sabau.
>>> In the ‘80s, the communist regime got to decide who is an artist and
>>> who is not. I, as a major in literature, was not allowed to display
>>> visual art except in special places, where amateurs were corralled.
>>> Rebelling against the professionals/amateurs rift, I chose to exhibit
>>> my works in unconventional and sometimes prohibited places. To display
>>> photos in the central park was an assumed risk in those times (see
>>> Landscape Pleonasm).
>>> The texts I wrote couldn’t be published as they were not compliant
>>> with the political system on one hand but mainly because I was not
>>> happy with the literary merit of my works. I tried to salvage the
>>> situation, so I organized a happening which consisted of me throwing
>>> all my “literature” in the river Mures, in front of an audience. Only
>>> one text survived, the one called Our Young Man Went to Circus. The
>>> characters of this remaining work became the core of the future
>>> reVoltaire archive and they first encountered the public in 1992, in
>>> the kinema ikon magazine, then called “conversatia”.  I lived the 90’s
>>> with the enthusiasm of discovering the computer, the internet and
>>> mainly, interactivity. In 1995, 22 experimental short films of the
>>> group were shown at the Pompidou Center in Paris. George Sabau
>>> considered the event a proper closure for an era.
>>> (http://kinema-ikon.net/2010_ki/filmexp.html)
>>> That was when I started producing digital works on cd.rom
>>> (http://kinema-ikon.net/1996_operaprima/op.htm), both individual and
>>> in groups, we began participating at new media shows, we coined the
>>> term ready media (http://kinema-ikon.net/1995_readymedia/ready.htm),
>>> we became exclusivists and elitists, we decided that after so much
>>> social involvement time has come to make art for the sake of art,
>>> moreover, we felt that the word "art" was dated, or to be more
>>> specific, it was confusing, and using “work” instead would be more
>>> appropriate. This way, the digital world became easier to approach.
>>> (http://revoltaire.net/)
>>> The peak of the digital era for myself and the kinema ikon group was
>>> the acceptance of my project for the Romanian pavilion at the Venice
>>> Biennial in 2003 (http://kinema-ikon.net/2003_alteridem/alt.htm) and
>>> the kinema ikon retrospective at the National Museum for Contemporary
>>> Art in 2005 (http://kinema-ikon.net/2005_worx/wrx.htm).
>>> Since 2005, the group got a fresh breath of air from the young
>>> generation of artists that gravitates around the KF coffee
>>> shop/alternative venue. Meeting with the artists in their late 20s
>>> keeps up the playful spirit of the group.
>>> (http://kf2arad.blogspot.com)
>>> The kinema ikon group was founded in 1970 and in the course of time
>>> had three generations who produced: experimental films (1970-1989),
>>> mixed media (1990-1994), hypermedia (1995-2005), hybrid media
>>> (2005-_).
>>> Since 1994 I took over the “conversatia” magazine which became
>>> “intermedia” – completely dedicated to experimental works.
>>> (http://issuu.com/kinema-ikon)
>>> An example is the issue consisting of 19 posters that were exhibited
>>> in the museum but also in the streets, in various places.
>>> (http://kinema-ikon.net/2009_dprt/_dprt.htm)
>>> An ambitious project was the one dedicated to photography, named
>>> kinema ikon 7010, when for the first time, all the kinema ikon members
>>> participated in the same project, at the same time. The result is one
>>> of the few objects of the group – a box that contains 53 large scale
>>> photos. (http://kinema-ikon.net/2010_ki/7010.html)
>>> The project we started last year is however, the most important:
>>> Wunderkammer & Other Apparatus. First, we printed in “intermedia” 20
>>> designs for apparatuses inspired by image producing machinery and
>>> cabinets of curiosities. The next phase is unfurling as we speak: at
>>> the Art Museum in Arad I got a space destined to house the kinema ikon
>>> experiments. I am currently preparing the inaugural exhibition. We
>>> will create a praxinoscope, a synthesis of the 20 designs, and things
>>> just start rolling from here.
>>> (http://kinema-ikon.net/2011_skepsis/_skepsis.htm)
>>> Paradoxically, after decades of experimenting with alternative spaces,
>>> I came to coordinate a white cube. It is as when Gabriel Garcia
>>> Marquez got away with a folk costume at his Nobel Prize acceptance
>>> speech instead of the requested tailcoat. Not wearing a tailcoat in a
>>> world where everybody wears one is rebellion. For me, who I never wore
>>> a tailcoat, rebellion is to wear one. After that, we’ll see.
>>> reVoltaire: www.revoltaire.net
>>> reVoltaire at V2: http://revoltaire.projects.v2.nl/pages/revoltaire.htm
>>> Encyclopedie Npuveaux Medias:
>>> http://www.newmedia-art.info/cgi-bin/show-art.asp?LG=FRA&DOC=IDEN&ID=9000000000084314
>>> http://rhizome.org/profiles/calinman/
>>> kinema ikon: www.kinema-ikon.net
>>> ki on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/kinemaikon
>>> kinema ikon 7010: http://kinema-ikon.posterous.com/
>>> ki publications: http://issuu.com/kinema-ikon
>>> all the best from Transylvania,
>>> calin man
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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