Monday, August 29, 2011

Going Fast: "Ostalgia" at the New Museum


"Ostalgia," the exhibition at the New Museum closing on September  25, takes its title from the German word ostalgie, a term that emerged in the 1990s to describe a sense of longing and nostalgia for the era before the collapse of the Communist Bloc. Twenty years ago—after the fall of the Berlin Wall—a process of dissolution led to the breakup of the Soviet Union and many other countries that had been united under Communist governments. From the Baltic republics to the Balkans, from Central Europe to Central Asia, entire regions and nations were reconfigured, their constitutions rewritten, their borders redrawn. “Ostalgia” looks at the art produced in and about some of these countries, many of which did not formally exist two decades ago. Mixing private confessions and collective traumas, the exhibition traces a psychological landscape in which individuals and entire societies must negotiate new relationships to history, geography, and ideology.


"Ostalgia” brings together the work of more than fifty artists from twenty countries across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics. Many of the works offer a series of reportages on aspects of life and art under Communism and in the new post-Soviet countries. "The exhibition pays particular attention to the unique place that artists came to occupy in Socialist countries, acting simultaneously as outcasts, visionaries, and witnesses.

"Unlike a conventional geographical survey, the exhibition includes works produced by Western European artists who have grappled with the reality and the myth of the East. Some of the preoccupations that unite the artists in “Ostalgia” are a romantic belief in the power of art as a transformative, almost curative agent; an obsession with language; the conception of a new aesthetic of the body; a fascination with the ruins of history as represented by monuments and architectural vestiges; and an understanding of artwork as a form of sentimental documentary that mediates between cultural pressures and individual anxieties."
 
DITHOB: The show alternates between a very useful pedagogy, outlining the rise and fall of Soviet socialist soceity and culture, to Phil Collins' film that views the impact of the fall of the Soviet Union on educated East German  women who had functional roles in the apparatus of the State and who then had to re-orient themselves in the new capitalist society. Art, sculpture, ephemera, that help to explore the cultural transitions in Eastern Europe.
 
THrough September 25. More here

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Current Reading

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