Extending the Dialogue

Editor: Urška Jurman, Christiane Erharter, Rawley Grau
Publisher: Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, Ljubljana; Archive Books, Berlin, ERSTE Foundation, Vienna
Content: 416 pages
ISBN: 978-3-943620-52-8
Year: 2016

Essays by Igor Zabel Award Laureates, Grant Recipients, and Jury Members, 2008–2014

Contributors: Edit András, Fouad Asfour, Keti Chukhrov, Karel Císař, Ekaterina Degot, Maja Fowkes and Reuben Fowkes, Alenka Gregorič, Daniel Grúň, Sabine Hänsgen, Tímea Junghaus, Klara Kemp-Welch, Miklavž Komelj, Lev Kreft and Aldo Milohnić, Kirill Medvedev, Piotr Piotrowski, Jelena Vesić, Raluca Voinea, WHW /What, How & for Whom/

The authors come from twelve different countries and represent a range of disciplines and interests: they are art historians, philosophers, cultural theorists and activists, critics, curators, and poets, with most of them falling into two or three of these categories. All have made important contributions to contemporary art and cultural production, art history writing, and critical thought within, and sometimes far beyond, the region once known, problematically, as “Eastern Europe”.

And all of them are either laureates or grant recipients of the prestigious Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory, or have served on the award jury. Named in honour of the distinguished Slovene curator and art historian Igor Zabel (1958–2005), the award honours the exceptional cultural achievements of those dedicated to deepening and broadening our knowledge of visual art and culture in Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe.

The book thus offers a collection of urgencies and agencies in art history, art writing, and art and cultural production from across this cultural and political geography. It is a survey of the pressing issues that stimulate these authors’ scholarly, curatorial, and cultural investments and so provides a referential, if fragmented and incomplete, picture of current conditions of art and culture in the region.

Given the authors’ diverse backgrounds, their writings express a variety of concerns and approaches, although certain groupings are apparent. The first of these groupings addresses issues in art history and theory from a geo-political perspective; the question of the centre–periphery relationship in writing about Central and Eastern European art is further enriched by perspectives from other “peripheries”, with feminist, post-colonial, and minority positions coming into play as the matrix of power in art writing, art history, and art education is critically examined. The second (and largest) grouping of writings discusses specific art phenomena, from the 1960s to the present. Several authors apply comparative and horizontal art-historical methods to reposition Eastern European art within the global context. Among the important topics represented here are environmental concerns and – since many of the artworks under discussion were developed as ephemeral works – the artistic and performative potential of documentation and archives. Other authors, meanwhile, reflect on the conditions of contemporary cultural production and the role of cultural institutions in the region. The last grouping deals with the intersection of politics and art, specifically with the region’s (utopian) legacy of revolution, socialism, and communism.

In 2008, when the first Igor Zabel Award was presented, the Igor Zabel Association and the ERSTE Foundation co-published the book, Continuing Dialogues: A Tribute to Igor Zabel. The present book is titled Extending the Dialogue not only because, in some senses, it is a follow-up to that first publication, but also because these texts examine issues and offer views that go far beyond local and regional concerns.

This publication is available at ERSTE Foundation Library.

Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.