Klara Kemp-Welch: Continuity and Rupture & Piotr Piotrowski: The Global NETwork


Public Lectures – World of Art 2014 programme
Lectures by art historians Piotr Piotrowski and Klara Kemp-Welch
Monday, 22 September 2014, 6 pm, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana

Klara Kemp-Welch: Continuity and Rupture. Networking and Collaboration from the 70s to the 00s
Since at least the landmark exhibition After The Wall (Stockholm, 1999 ), each new year seems to produce a framed survey of what goes under the pseudonym “East European art“ – notably, IRWIN’s best-selling East Art Map (2000-06), but also the exhibitions Les Promesses du Passe (Paris, 2010), Ostalgia (New York, 2011), The Desire for Freedom (Berlin, 2012), Report on the Construction of a Space Module (New York, 2014), to name just some. Each initiative has to stake out its position in relation to the concerns of a complex network of participants and institutional stakeholders. The same is true of projects in which unofficial late-socialist art has been put into discursive play with its experimental equivalents from around the world: Global Conceptualism (New York, 1999), Subversive Practices (Stuttgart, 2009), and more recently, the Museum of Parallel Narratives (Barcelona, 2011). Networking and collaboration are central to such projects. Moreover, such exhibitions and projects also present necessity as a virtue. They are increasingly designed to address our networked age, with its particular audience of participant-producer-consumer. I would like to argue that if the 1970s feature so prominently in the projects listed above, then this is because that was when a certain form of spectatorship was ostensibly born, and, above all, perhaps the moment when networking and collaboration were reborn, often on the quiet, after the disappointments of 1968. I examine the uses and abuses of narratives of the micro-historical isolation and marginalization of “East European art” while considering locating the historical germs of our present condition in the late-socialist period, comparing the cultural situation today with its late-socialist counterpart.

Piotr Piotrowski: The Global NETwork. Approaching Comparative Art History
At the beginning of the 1970s, Jaroslaw Kozalowski and Andrzej Kostolowski invented NET – a global network of artists who wanted to exchange their thoughts. This was the first conception of such an idea in the Eastern Bloc, and one of the first in the entire world. Ultimately, over the course of more than a dozen years, a few hundred people from both Eastern and Western Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia participated in this initiative. This lecture does not, however, aim to describe the project itself, but rather takes it as a point of departure for an analysis of the different contexts in which artworks circulate in an effort to arrive at a theoretical approach to comparative art history. I understand this concept not necessarily as in the way in which the circulation of ideas caused them to be influenced by each other, but rather how different geo-historical circumstances lay behind their (contextual) meaning, how they illuminated each other – something that was not always perceived by the public that visited NET exhibitions. We may thus be able to distinguish aspects of global culture as they were being developed at the time, aspects that are otherwise usually seen as homogeneous and West-centric, existing in a one-way relationship between the metropolis and its periphery.

This event is part of the 2014 World of Art public programme, which is being prepared by the SCCA–Ljubljana and the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory. Partner of the event: Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova The programme is supported by: the City of Ljubljana – Department for Culture.