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Communisms’ Afterlives (Brussels)

COMMUNISMS’ AFTERLIVES
Saturday, 13 February 2010, 15:00 – 18:00
WIELS
Av. Van Volxemlaan 354, Brussels

http://www.wiels.org/site2/event.php?event_id=345

Yevgeniy Fiks, Song of Russia no. 17, 2005-2007. Oil on canvas, 36 x 48″

A conference curated by Elena Sorokina and Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez for The Public School. With contributions from Adrian Rifkin, Marko Stamenkovic, Oxana Timofeeva, Grant Watson.

Through a series of polemic dialogues, we would like to trace different generations of intellectuals (artists, curators, philosophers, art historians) from the former East and West of Europe that deal with “shades of red,” the afterlives of Communism and its (un)expected turning points in its most recent philosophical and artistic reception following the financial and, more generally, post-Fordist crisis.

After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, communism as idea, image or problem has been regarded as “outmoded, absurd, deplorable or criminal, depending on the case.” Today, it is often presented by the mainstream media as a parenthesis of history, an aberration of the 20th century, as “a completely forgotten word, only to be identified with a lost experience.” Although the communist hypotheses of previous eras may no longer be valid, their histories, narratives and key notions have never ceased to spark attention and inform recent discussions such as the communal versus the common, and material versus immaterial property, to name just a few. Perceived from a greater distance today, communism has re-emerged as a topic for investigation in artistic and exhibition production, that reflects it in diverse ways, addressing the relevance of the term today or inviting provocative comparisons with the present.

This seminar aims at presenting various works that recast ideas related to communism and revisit it as a complex and diverse arena of political and aesthetic attitudes, which varied between nations, communities and historical periods. By no means does the seminar intends to take a nostalgic tour through the past decades, but rather seeks to address the topic through concrete art and exhibition projects realized recently. All of them are trying to deconstruct the idea of monolith, still very present in today’s reception, and to recuperate various episodes, stories and notably, the “communist apocrypha” — texts, music, visual production — which have never been part of the established ideological canon, and whose intellectual patterns shed new light on what the contemporary uses of the notion of communism might be. Instead of treating communism as pure political abstraction, the projects presented by the seminar deal with concepts, events and/or particular personalities related to communism and its history which have survived the Bildersturm of the recent past and can be artistically reactivated.

The conference is part of The Public School Brussels, a permanent project by the curatorial collective Komplot.

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