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22 Sept – 9 Dec 2019
ORIENT. "The New East" in Central European Art

Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, Krakow, Poland

curator: Michal Novotný / co-curator: Anna Bargiel

Loan by Kontakt: Pavel Brăila, Work, 2000; Josef Dabernig, Timau, 1998; Anna Daučíková, Mulholland Drive, 2003; KwieKulik, Open Form – Game on an Actress´s Face, 1971; Igor Grubić, East Side Story, 2008

The exhibition Orient is a meditation on the Central and Eastern European identity. It considers the failure of its own identity to be the unifying aspect of this unclear region. The contradictory longing for pride and patriotism and at the same time, the feeling of being ashamed of where we come from that leads to the suppression and negation of this belongingness. The embarrassment, growing from the internalisation of the collapse of the surrounding context that used to be built upon a social and political utopia. The expectation of catching up with the Western capitalist standards, to which European integration – meaning, integration into Western Europe – was so often reduced on both sides. The disappearance of the Second World from the picture, and hence, belonging neither to Europe nor to the West nor to the “non-Western.”

This exhibition has chosen a projection of the obviously problematic title to constitute the ironical, self-deprecating identity of the “East European (br)Other.” It claims this contradictory “Oedipal relation”by both refusing and craving it as key constituents of the in-between-ness of Eastern (Bloc, Central, post-communist, New, etc.)Europe.

Stating the suppressed inferiority complex as a possible reason for the recent upheaval of nationalism and anti-democratic tendencies in Eastern Europe, it questions whether the acceptance of this failure in constituting and performing Eastern European identities could not be turned into a virtue.

It sees the need for patriotism in a positive way. The kind of patriotism that allows for reflection on the stereotypes, which we all need and with which we live; the kind of patriotism that is both ironical and at the same time, entirely serious. A sense of belonging to a place, rather than a nation. A new mythology, which is creating a sense of space in an economy where space is the most expensive asset.

Built on expectations, desires, stories, experiences, and stereotypes, it stages a drama that takes viewers through five scenes, or five genres, following the dialectics of the region’s development since the end of the 1980s. A muddle of the most ironical and the most earnest intentions for creating a new museum of (in)famous national histories. A therapeutic re-enactment of our surprises, victories, traumas, and humiliations. A dark satirical comedy of The Fateful Adventures in the non-existent region after The End of History. An appropriation of our own insults as a mode of emancipation but also as a mode of self-reflection.

Despite the conflicting pathos and subsequent irony[, this exhibition believes it will help the “wayward children of Europe” to finally grow and return to the European home once again as well as consider this home as one that is “celebratory” rather than “self-congratulatory” and “fraternal” rather than “patronising.”

This exhibition is not a map, nor is it a survey, but rather a subjective journey observed from a point in space and time and constructed with artists that have been chosen not because of their nationality or language but based on a relationship. It aims not for equality but rather for inclusion.