PATTERNS Lectures supports the development of new university courses in Central and South Eastern Europe in the fields of art history, cultural theory, and cultural studies. Furthermore, it supports lecturers’ international study visits and encourages international academic exchange by offering the possibility of guest lectures.



Ever since that watershed year for Europe, 1989, the continent’s post-socialist countries have been in transition. But across Central and South Eastern Europe, daily life in the 1960s and ’70s was already in a state of flux, buffeted by the intense ideological debates of the time.

Periods of turbulence always leave their mark, and there is an artistic and cultural trail that needs to be explored if we are to discover (in the words of one PATTERNS Lectures course) ‘what’s happened to us’. After totalitarianism, how differently do art and culture tell us about our lives? How reliably and extensively can we unearth the cultural history of totalitarian times, to find out ‘what the Party didn’t teach’? And just how different – or alike – are the socialist and post-socialist periods?


PATTERNS has been the main focus of research and funding in ERSTE Foundation’s cultural work over the last few years:

PATTERNS Call 2008
Gender Check – Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe

PATTERNS helps us understand the cultural history of Central and South Eastern Europe from the 1960s to the present day. It acts as a contemporary witness, shining a light on some previously hidden areas of activity and making sense of the multitude of cultural expressions that characterise the ongoing historical period known as ‘the transition’.  Whether through projects it starts or supports, or the new academic courses it sets in motion, PATTERNS builds up a wealth of expertise that translates into new knowledge.

By analysing transformational processes in a comparative way (comparing within the region as well as with Western Europe), PATTERNS offers precious insights into, for example, the complexity of pre-transition arts scenes, gender issues, and the impact of popular and counter culture.


We are particularly interested in courses which:
have been recently developed and have not been held before; analytically deal with the period starting from the 1960s up to the present day, including the year of transition in 1989; deal with cultural phenomena before 1989 until today, including aspects of popular, marginal and counterculture; examine interdisciplinary and cross-cultural history in Central and South Eastern Europe; involve critical methodology and innovative and interactive teaching practices.

PATTERNS Lectures addresses lecturers at public universities in Central and South Eastern Europe who offer study programmes in the fields of art history, cultural studies and cultural sciences and related fields. Course proposals by external lecturers must be integrated into the framework of a public higher education institution.

photo by Johannes Porsch

Project Manager

Heide Wihrheim
T: +43 (0)50100 – 11092

“The arts education is very important today when society seems to be promoting only education that brings immediate profit. […] Arts and humanities can help us understand why we are more and more anxious today and how we can make critique of today’s society in times when people are turning inwards and critiquing themselves for their life failures.”

Renata Salecl, philosoper and theorist