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CENTRAL 2004 Salzburg

"New Art from New Europe"

GALERIE ERNST HILGER
 23.07. - 28.08.2004

 

Vernissage: am Donnerstag, dem 22. Juli 2004, um 19:00 Uhr


Austria
Berenice Darrer, Yoon Sook, Bernhard Wolf
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zlatan Filipovic, Kurt & Plasto, Vanda Vucicevic
Bulgaria
Jeni Noltcheva, Kalin Serapionov, Krassimir Terziev
Croatia
Tomislav Buntak, Ivana Franke, Damir Stojnic
Romania
Anca Benera, Irina Botea, Nicolae Comanescu
Serbia and Montenegro
Milena Gordic, Milica Ruzicic, Slavica Lazic
Slovakia
Erik Binder, Marko Blazo, Marek Kvetan
Slovenia
Mojca Osojnik, Miha Strukelj, Saso Vrabic

Ausstellungsort
Max Gandolf Bibliothek
Kapitelgasse 5
5020 Salzburg

Täglich geöffnet von 11:00 bis 19:00 Uhr
Eine Initiative von
Siemens_artLab und BA-CA Artforum

On the way back to Central Europe
or where is the center?

Lóránd Hegyi

Shortly before the opening of this exhibition, Europecelebrated its further expansion and thus the beginningof a new chapter in the history of the continent.Instead of separation and mistrust, instead of enmityand tension, this new epoch of construction and cooperationin and around the new European Communitywill lead us further along the path towards a greatcommunal future.

Although the European Union is obviously not yet identicalwith the whole of Europe, although many regions,many great countries must for the time being "stay outin the cold", and with them their histories, their incrediblyrich cultures, their crucial economic and intellectualresources, this enlargement of the European Union isnevertheless opening up gigantic dimensions andfervent hopes for all Europeans.Siemens, with its visionary artLab, as well as the culturalactivities of BA-CA within the HVB association, havebeen and still are pioneers in finding and exploitingthese great creative energies. The limitation to Siemenspartner countries - some of which are already part ofthis new Europe, while others are at its threshold -helps us to better address the issues at hand. It is by nomeans intended to discourage the non-participatingcountries.

The enlargement of the European Union so far and itsfurther expansion in the future represents the result ofa long and complex process, unfolding not only on theeconomic, political and strategic levels, but above all inthe minds and thus within the world view and cultureof Europeans. This process of rethinking and transformingthe system of values has led from a status of separationto the new reality of living together and beingconnected to one another - a new European solidarityand feeling of belonging, and consequently the arousingand nurturing of the partially dormant, but greatartistic potential in the "new" countries.On the cultural level, on the deeper level of collectivethinking, this process also involves the formulation andrethinking of the concept of European culture, thetotality of the European past, the political and ideologicalpartition of Europe during the Cold War, as well asthe critical analytical revaluation of many theories andstatements, many clichés and visions. The latter often tended to interpret certain realities in a simplistic andone-sided manner, following an ahistorical, abstractapproach, taking them out of their real context, detachingthem from their deterministic conditions. Thepartition of Europe into two inimical, ideologically andmorally antagonistic blocks in bitter rivalry with oneanother kept alive the image of the "foreigner", theimage of the "adversary", in a way that is both artificialand manipulative. In the process, many common values,experiences, even the entire common cultural heritageof Europe were, so to speak, divided up and separatedfrom each other - and thus misinterpreted in an entirelyincorrect and erroneous mindset in terms of history.The mystification of the "otherness" of the respective"other" part of Europe, the scenario of antagonism asan insoluble problem situation, the demonization of the"foreigner" and creation of the concept of the "adversary"led to an absurd, irrational, tragic-comic andabove all erroneous division of Europe into the terrainof what is "good", "progressive", "free", "humane", andthe terrain of what is "evil", "regressive", "repressive","anti-humane". Here the respective judgment of eachside always relied on the same clichés and the samemoral argumentation.

Perhaps this was the most harrowing aspect in theentire intellectual history of the Cold War: this common- often subconscious - falsification of European culturalhistory, collective heritage and mutual experience. Thedivision of the continent into "good" and "evil" annihilatedthe historical perspective, for the historical andcultural processes were falsified in retrospect. An irrationalteleology held sway, which projected the strategic,political and ideological objectives of the present -in other words, the epoch of the Cold War - onto theprocesses of the past and made the temporal separationand divergence absolute. The logical and historicallyentirely obvious, indeed self-evident contexts andnatural solidarity were misinterpreted and manipulated,thus configuring the temporal separation as an eternal,timeless, immutable, irrevocable, and irreversible statusquo. This destroyed the legitimate, historical habit ofthinking and created an almost demonic image of the"others", automatically interpreted as more or less total"alien", as "adversary".

This mechanism of permanent misinterpretation andthe cultivation of the enemy image often produced a false or one-sided perception of cultural processes andcreative constellations. The complex links betweencultural centers were forgotten or simply ignored. Thecutting off of the whole Soviet Russian avant-gardefrom Western developments had already begun in thelate 1920s - although there were still a fair number ofpersonal contacts and professional activities going onbetween the Soviet Union and the rest of Europe untilthe mid-1930s, above all in the fields of contemporaryliterature and art film. In architecture, too, and in thefine arts there were significant contacts, cooperations,competitions and an intensive exchange of ideas andconcepts in specialist literature. The disappearance ofreciprocal references pertinently demonstrates theincrease of cultural separation between the regions ofEurope and augurs the tragic, collective amnesia of the1950s and '60s.

The Nazis' ascent to power in Germany in 1933 markedthe beginning of the systematic ideological and culturalremodeling of the country; here, the "cleansing" of Germanicculture from "foreign" elements took on a manicobsessiveand totalitarian form. Never in European historyhad ideas and art, aesthetic concepts and subjects,images and texts been so rigorously persecuted andliquidated as in the Third Reich. Meanwhile, ideologicalchanges and strategic considerations within the StalinistSoviet Union shaped the political scene in the 1930s,especially the extremity of the internal fight against thevarious "dissident" tendencies and groups, such as theTrotzkyists and the Bukharinists, and the almost paranoidmistrust of Western Communists. This led to theescalation of repression, which also exacerbated theincreasing isolation of the Soviet Union from the Westernworld. After the Anschluss in 1938, after the warbroke out in 1939, active, intensive and reciprocalcultural connections were almost entirely destroyedbetween the various cultural centers of Europe,between East and West, which now lived under differentregimes. Nonetheless, resistance and emigration,the culture of illegality and emotional solidarity stillsustained the memory of certain contacts and, most ofall, certain cultural references.

Shortly after the victory over fascism and Nazism,Europe at last was able to experience a feeling oftogetherness and solidarity, albeit brief and limited andaccompanied by much ambivalence, mistrust anddoubt. So much had happened, after all: the wounds of war and the terrible experiences under the variousrepressive regimes, in totalitarian societies, in repressivepower systems and in mechanisms driven by cynical,ideological manipulation. No wonder that intellectualscould no longer cherish optimistic faith in a romanticvision of future improvement. During the period of the1930s and '40s, European intellectuals finally lost whatremained of their naivety.

In the 1950s, the currents of "official optimism" and"obligatory euphoria" clearly manipulated national culturalpolitics and ideology. Skepticism and melancholywere outlawed in one part of Europe, whilst criticalskepticism, nihilistic fatalism and the "soft-option offreedom" nurtured a certain - often subconscious -arrogance and hedonistic irresponsibility in the otherpart of the continent. Although philosophers andthinkers from Camus to Moravia did indeed understandand analyze in depth the ethical dimensions of thepolitical struggles in 1956, collective amnesia, politicalapathy and finally the effacement of forgetting continuedto deepen the separation. Certain intellectuals inthe East took refuge in part by retreating into varioustypes of dangerous nostalgia or masochistic, simultaneouslyarrogant and pseudo-historical isolationism,whereas others actually did leave their native countries.The rapid - or difficult - adaptation to the new situationsin the new countries often caused deep identity crises.Now the center of the "old" Europe is opening up to uswith fresh vigor, even though the old clichés and newforms of hate, racism and nationalism, religious intoleranceand fundamentalism, chauvinism and egoism stillkeep rearing up their ugly heads in the new Europe,often under new guises, borne by new, "modern"scenarios.

This only highlights the importance of all the jointendeavors undertaken in the cultural sector - orespecially in this sector - to activate and update in apermanent analytical process the trajectories taken bysolidarity and the common cultural platform thattranscends all frontiers.

Only when ideals are put into practice, constantlyapplied in constant usage, will these new - old platformsfunction as metaphorical sites of encounter. Herethe various cultural and mental constellations can communicatetheir specific messages and confront eachother in authentic, profound statements of artists, writers, philosophers, architects, film and theatrepeople, and musicians. Exhibitions such as this are onlyone option from a great agenda of opportunities, atinternational and national venues, in symposiums,artists' exchanges and encounters.

This exhibition is a further attempt to contribute to theconstruction of new visions for Europe, with specialconsideration of areas in which visionary and partnership-oriented leading business enterprises such asSiemens and BA-CA (HVB Bank) have been acting foryears. It does not claim to offer a comprehensive, statisticallyencyclopedic representation of art from centraland eastern Europe, but one that is fully aware of thehistorical and emotional obligations on the one handand the great hunger for new ways of learning andseeing on the other hand.

The works on show here do not primarily representeither countries or regions, their role as "ambassadors"or representatives of their home countries is only asecondary one. More than anything else, they create anew homeland with their art (even if they were selectedby the curators of the respective countries.) Theyevoke precise, exact locations and situations, andreflect a new and intellectual way of seeing things - which also makes them productive and strengtheningfor Austrian art.They create new places, new contexts, new constellations.Their configuration of a specific, personal,authentic structure of individually interpreted values isconstrued by their own experiences and personalstories, their specific cultural and mental dispositiondependent on their language, philosophy, political,economic, social and ecological situation.The manifold constellations manifest the multifacetedcomplexity of European culture, its diversity andcreative heterogeneity, in which old connections blendwith a network of new contacts.These old connections are being critically investigated,analytically evaluated, and aligned with supremecapability to confront the new experiences.The artists will use the whole of Europe, the wholeglobe as their resource, cross boundaries, draw theirexperience from the various mental, social and culturalcontexts, thus transforming society and with it, ofcourse, the world of business and politics, too.