CONF: Lost and Found Spaces: Displacements in Eastern European Art and Society in the 1990s

The Kumu Art Museum’s fall conference 2018

01.–03.11.2018 in the auditorium of the Kumu Art Museum

The sixth Kumu Art Museum’s fall conference focuses on art and society in post-socialist Eastern Europe in the 1990s.

Fundamental political, social and cultural changes that took place after the fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolution of the Soviet Union have been analysed in numerous publications and at many seminars and conferences. The Kumu Art Museum’s fall conference aims for a re-evaluation of these changes in relation to the notion of “space” and concepts of “spatiality”, and examines social and cultural processes in Eastern Europe in the 1990s through spatial interactions.

The “spatial turn” in the humanities and social sciences in the late 1980s emerged at the crossroads of critical theory, poststructuralism, postcolonialism and other intellectual movements that shaped the last decades of the 20th century, and was inspired by the work of Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre, Doreen Massey, Jacques Derrida, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and others. The turn brought about a new kind of attentiveness to the agency of physical, but also conceptual or imaginary, space/s in social relations and cultural production. Space was not looked at as a neutral area or container where things take place and time flows through, but as something that organises and expresses power relations, gives meanings to events and is always part of what happens.

Post-socialist spaces of the 1990s can be understood as physical, geographical, sociological, political, psychological, cultural, virtual or metaphorical spaces that are not necessarily fixed, but may be fluid and changeable. Eastern Europe can be looked at as one space or as a conglomerate of multiple spaces; the culture of the 1990s may be analysed through creation and destruction, foundation and disappearance, displacements and collisions of spaces.

The conference focuses on Eastern European art histories, but also welcomes presentations from other disciplines that help to explain art historical processes. We are looking forward to both theoretical contributions and case studies of artistic phenomena from the 1990s.

The conference will focus on five topics:

I Lost and found spaces

Old and new networks in the art world, new practices and technologies, thinking spaces and utopias, travelling and migration

II Creating spaces

The figure of the curator in the art scene, discursive models of curating, creating communities, new art events and institutions

III Mapping spaces

Role models in the global art world, conflicts between internal and external identities, power positions, included and excluded spaces

IV Taking over spaces

New strategies of self-assertion, alternatives for national and neoliberal narratives, critical exhibitions and institutions

V Living spaces

Everyday life, history and ways of remembering, subjective positions, gender relations and psychological changes in the art world

The opening lecture will be held by Viktor Misiano. Invited speakers include Boris Buden (Berlin), Renata Salecl (University of Ljubljana), Madina Tlostanova (Linköping University) and Larry Wolff (New York University).

Conference board: Anu Allas (Kumu Art Museum), Sirje Helme (Art Museum of Estonia), Anders Härm (Institute of Art History and Visual Culture at the Estonian Academy of Arts) and Viktor Misiano (Moscow Art Magazine).

Along with the conference, an exhibition of Estonian art of the 1990s (curated by Eha Komissarov and Anders Härm) will open in the Kumu Art Museum, and the third Kumu Art Film Festival KuFF, which focuses on the film and video productions of the 1990s, will take place. Selected conference papers will be published in The Proceedings of the Art Museum of Estonia.

Conference Programme

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