On Fashion and Revolution

This short text was commissioned by the curators of Left Performance Histories, a pioneering and thought-provoking exhibition at NGBK, Berlin in spring 2018.   In paying attention to queer and radical actions in the gallery, on the stage and in the street in Eastern Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, Left Performance Histories not only … Continue reading

To Rend and To Sew

This essay was published in a catalogue accompanying Beata Ewa Białecka’s 2018 Ave Kobieta exhibition at the National Gallery in Gdansk.     Who are we looking at when we look on Beata Ewa Białecka’s portraits of children in death and those who grieve them? With very few points of reference provided by dress or setting, … Continue reading

On Andrzej Klimowski

This essay was commissioned for a new book on the posters of Andrzej Klimowski published by Self-Made Hero in 2018.   In 1980 English-born Andrzej Klimowski had been living in Warsaw for seven years and was working as the designer of posters for the state film distributor and a number of theatres around Poland. That … Continue reading

Dan Perjovschi: The Power of the Margins

A piece written in 2010 ….   The international art world ‘discovered’ Dan Perjovschi in 1999 when his drawings were displayed in the Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.[1] Under the title ‘rEST’, he covered the floor with cartoons and slogans in thick marker-pen reflecting on life in Eastern-Central Europe since the overthrow of communist … Continue reading

Études with a camera – Dóra Maurer’s films and photoworks

  What can one do with a cobblestone? This was a question asked and answered by Dóra Maurer in 1971. It is the title of a series of photographs in which she documented a cobblestone being obliged to participate in various activities. After tethering it with string for one photo, in another she pulls it … Continue reading

‘Consumer Art’ and Other Commodity Aesthetics in Eastern Europe under Communist Rule

  This essay was written for a book which was published by Centrum Sztuki Nowoczesnej in Warsaw in January 2017.   In 2015 works from Natalia LL’s ‘Consumer Art’ (1972-5) series featured in Tate Modern’s exhibition, The World Goes Pop. Here, Natalia LL’s reflections on desire and satisfaction were placed in in the company of … Continue reading

Király’s Immoderate Fashion

In 1986 Tamás Király arranged for his latest collection to be photographed on the steps of the Műcsarnok, the kunsthalle in Hősök Tere in central Budapest. A group of adults and children – barefooted, with stiff sculptural caps and belted robes – occupy the steps. The men are peacocks in bright silks; the woman, in … Continue reading

The Peasant in the City

This piece was written for a Zacheta show, Polska – kraj folkloru? You can download the catalogue in English here. It includes excellent essays by Gabriela Świtek, Błażej Brzostek and the curator, Joanna Kordjak. A Socialist capital – a city for every citizen … the worker, the peasant and the working intelligentsia’ – political slogan Poland, … Continue reading

Notes from the Underground

In September, Daniel Muzyczuk and I curated a show entitled ‘Notes from the Underground’ for the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz which explores the intersection of art and music in Eastern Europe under communist rule. Rock, punk and new wave were not only embraced by young musicians in the 1970s and 1980s, they shaped the visual … Continue reading

Modernism Redux

In October 1993, Charles Jencks, the leading advocate of architectural postmodernism, was guest of honour at an international conference and exhibition on ‘Post-Modernism and National Cultures’ which was held at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. This event coincided with the Yeltsin coup, which culminated on October 3-4 with the fighting at the Ostankino TV Center, … Continue reading