AICA is starting a series of programs with the aim to make art criticism more visible and to provoke discussion about the new situation in the visual arts. The first of these programs was the round table The New Europe. A Cluster of Peripheries?, hosted by AICA on Sunday June 28, in one of the rooms in the Cercle municipal, Place d´Armes at Manifesta 2 in Luxembourg.
THE NEW EUROPE –
a Cluster of Peripheries?
JUNE 28, 1998
AICA is starting a series of programs with the aim to make art criticism more visible and to provoke discussion about the new situation in the visual arts. In order to provide an intellectual presence and a forum at important international exhibitions, the organisation has begun to organise panel discussions and workshops, which will take place where many artists and art critics come together.
The first of these programs was the round table The New Europe. A Cluster of Peripheries?, hosted by AICA on Sunday June 28, in one of the rooms in the Cercle municipal, Place d´Armes at Manifesta 2 in Luxembourg. The discussion was held in English and was open to the public, with no entrance fee. About 100 people attended the meeting, which was taped.
A generous grant from the Open Society Institute Art and Culture Network Program in New York made it possible to invite four panelists from Central and Eastern European countries with a special in-depth insight into what´s going on in these countries. Without the economic support of the Open Society, it would not have been possible to arrange this round table.
As Vice President for Special Projects and Publications I initiated the idea to arrange a round table and the program was planned and executed in collaboration with Kim Levin, international AICA President and Ramon Tio Bellido, General Secretary of AICA, Katy Deepwell, President of British AICA and John Peter Nilsson, Vice president of Swedish AICA. Board members of the Swedish section contributed considerably to the process of selecting the panelists. Karsten Thurfjell found the apposite title for the event during the brainstorm at the board meeting of the Swedish AICA. I established constructive contacts with the organisers of Manifesta 2: Enrico Lunghi, Coordinator, Annette Mullinck, International Relations Executive and Laure Fabre, Press Officer; as well as with Maria Lind, one of the three curators of the event.
Moderator: Daniel Birnbaum, Stockholm, Ph.D. in philosophy, new Director of IASPIS (International Artists’ Studio Program in Sweden), contributor to Dagens Nyheter, Artforum, frieze. Panelists: Antje von Grævenitz, Amsterdam, Cologne, Kestutis Kuizinas, Vilnius, Suzana Milevska, Bitola, Bojana Pejic, Berlin, Nebosja Seric-Soba, Sarajevo, Aneta Szylak, Gdansk.
Antje von Grævenitz said that art is not related to frontiers. It will not in the future be created by European borders. Art is a medium for communication and as such it crosses borderlines all the time in the form of letters, faxes, phone-calls, e-mails, books, films, videos, television-films, the Internet etc.
Aneta Szylak talked about the peripheries of peripheries, being a director of the Bathhouse in Gdansk. Her institution is at the margin of the Polish art scene, but on the other hand the Bathhouse is deeply involved in the activities in the Baltic Sea region.
Nebosja Seric-Soba, one of the artists participating in Manifesta 2, asked ”Where are the peripheries of art?” He said that one of the most important things in the discussion is to arrive at a ”freedom of thinking”.
Suzana Milevska related the story about the prince, the Western curator, who was looking for Cinderella. Many Eastern artists wanted to be Cinderella. Milevska told us that in Skopje there is a dream to be the host city of a future Manifesta. But it depends on the prince. Within the former Yugoslavia Macedonia was the periphery of the peripheries. Milevska said that instead of having the feeling of being marginalised and outsmarted, you should think of your own country as the centre.
Daniel Birnbaum asked if the peripheries should look at each other. Do we need centres, places where you can be understood and evaluated?
According to Joseph Backstein, Moscow, in the era of Internet, the concepts of ’center’ and ’periphery’ do not exist any longer.
Birnbaum continued saying that for him the poets Gunnar Ekelöf and Thomas Tranströmer, writing in his own mother tongue Swedish, were greater than e.g. Wallace Stevens. He asked the auditorium, if it is the same with artists as with writers, that they only can be immensely great in their own local situation?
Christian Chambert asked if an event, which is restricted only to European art, will make any sense within, let us say, ten years in a world open to the global perspective. Bojana Pejic opposed and answered the question with: ”Yes”.
Anda Rottenberg, Warsaw, said that Manifesta was a pan-European event, conceived four years ago. The idea at the beginning was to have an Eastern European curator, when Manifesta was in the West and vice versa. Why did this brilliant idea fall down.
The discussion among the panelists and in the audience was lively and intellectually stimulating. The round table has been considered a great success. After the meeting AICA got a lot of proposals from different countries to arrange or co-arrange future panel discussions.
AICA is in the preliminary phase of the planning of a round table during the opening days of the exhibition of the collection of the future Museum of Contemporary Art in Sarajevo in the Skenderija Center in Sarajevo at the end of June. Furthermore AICA is considering the possibility to arrange a panel discussion during the opening days of the Venice biennial.
President AICA Sweden.