• Poetry & Performance / The Eastern European Perspective
    22 December 2017 − 10 March 2018

    Nová synagóga, Žilina, Slovakia Poetry & Performance / The Eastern European Perspective 22/12/17 –  10/03/18 Loans by Kontakt: Vlado Martek: Ciklus Soneti / Sonnet Cycle, 1978-79 Raša Todosijević: Znak / Sign, 1971; Skulptura / Sculpture, 1971; Was ist Kunst, Patricia Hennings? / What is Art, Patricia Hennings?, 1976; Was ist Kunst, Marinela Koželj? / What is Art, Marinela Koželj?, 1978 Tamás St. Auby: Kentaur / Centaur, 1973-1975/ 2009 Curators: Sabine Hänsgen, Tomáš Glanc, Daniel Grúň Nová synagóga in Žilina presents the exhibition Poetry & Performance. The Eastern European Perspective curated by Tomáš Glanc, Daniel Grúň and Sabine Hänsgen. The exhibition brings together more than forty artists, poets and creative groups from the countries of the former Eastern Europe as well as contemporary artistic positions. The exhibition will be opened on December 22nd from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. by a series of several performances and will run until March 10th 2018. In the second half of the twentieth century, poets and artists in particular took up the challenge of reflecting on and investigating the instrumentalization of language for communicative and political-ideological purposes. They did so by drawing attention to the “made-ness” of language, its material and medial dimension, and by creating performative situations for themselves and their audiences within which possibilities of verbal expression could be tested and acted out. In Eastern Europe, poetry and performance played a significant role in the unofficial or partially tolerated cultural scene. The writing practice of samizdat and its relation to the devices of concrete and visual poetry have been treated and presented in a number of previous projects. Until now however, less consideration has been given to the circumstances of performance. In addition to the typescript literature of samizdat, subcultural milieus attached particular importance to the oral recitation of poems, exhibitions, and poetry actions. The interrelation between text and situation in poetic acts functioned as a trigger for performances and happenings. The exhibition presents authors from subcultures in socialist states along with contemporary positions that continue the legacy of combining poetry and performance. It shows the efforts of poets and artists to break free from controlled language and normative communicative now and then. Poetry & Performance. The Eastern European Perspective thus confronts the current social challenges in the post-socialist countries through the prism of language and ideology and looks back at their points of departure. Artists: Milan Adamčiak, Pavel Arsenev, Babi Badalov, Bosch+Bosch (Attila Csernik, Slavko Matković, László Szalma), Collective Actions Group, Ľubomír Ďurček, Else Gabriel / Via Lewandowsky, Rimma Gerlovina, Tomislav Gotovac, Group of Six Artists, Bohumila Grögerová / Josef Hiršal, Gino Hahnemann, Václav Havel, Jörg Herold, Semyon Khanin (Orbita), Kinship Moho (Zuzana Jasenková, Kristína Országhová, Magdaléna Scheryová), Dávid Koronczi, Katalin Ladik, Yuri Leiderman / Andrey Silvestrov, Vlado Martek, Andrei Monastyrski, Monogramista T.D, Ladislav Novák, Pavel Novotný, NSRD (Hardijs Lediņš, Juris Boiko, Imants Žodžiks), OHO Group (Nuša & Srečo Dragan, Naško Križnar), Boris Ondreička, Orange Alternative, Roman Osminkin, Ewa Partum, Bogdanka Poznanović, Dmitri Prigov, Lev Rubinstein, Nóra Ružičková / Marianna Mlynárčiková, Mladen Stilinović, Gabriele Stötzer, Tamás Szentjóby, Bálint Szombathy, Raša Todosijević, Jaromír Typlt, Jiří Valoch. Nová synagóga, Žilina, Slovakia J. M. Hurbana 220/11, 010 01 Wednesday — Sunday, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m. free entry (voluntary)


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Most projects by Mona Vǎtǎmanu and Florin Tudor read both as case studies—critical visualizations of or material interventions into contemporary equations of labor and value, ownership and dispossession, ideology and unrest—and as intricately coded allegories of economic war or environmental devastation. The pyramidal world map being pushed, shoved, and incinerated in their film The Order of Things condenses a reflection on geographic objectivity and the “striations” produced by economic value. Footage of children setting fire to the thick piles of poplar fluff that litter the streets of Bucharest during spring functions as a negative image of rejuvenation, as a stand-in for owned property—which is experienced only as destruction by those who own nothing. This game, the object of which is to obliterate the quasi-immateriality of poplar spores and reveal the nothingness that they temporarily concealed, functions as an extension beyond the specific history and circumstances of the filming location and into the dialectic of value and valuelessness: other projects, such as ingots made of rust, literally conflate the signifiers of worth and expenditure. And the industrial venom that has drenched the valleys near the Romanian town of Rosia Montanǎ, preparing the ground for an ecologically cataclysmic gold extraction project and forcing the population into an upward migration towards the mountaintops and away from submerged villages, lends the static shots in their All That Is Solid Melts Into Air a dream-like quality that is accentuated by these images’ synchronization with a reading of the “Revelation of St. John,” the Bible's final chapter. This text enters into a peculiar relationship with the despoiled landscape—word and image alternate in relation to each other, exchanging the functions of figure and ground: apocalyptic prophecy profiled against devastated habitat, or figures of devastation profiled against the post-historical horizon of the “Revelation.” A roughly similar destabilization of the tandem between soundtrack and image can be observed in their earlier film The Trial, in which the transcript of the mock legal proceedings that led to the 1989 execution of communist president Nicolae Ceauşescu—a text that, in its dizzying circumlocutions, functioned as the founding document and hazy cornerstone of the democracy to which Romania endlessly transitions—is monotonously recited against the backdrop of communist urbanism’s endless façade of apartment blocks, appearing here as barriers to political agency rather than as walls delimiting habitation and privacy. Sowing seeds for bread on a desolate plot of land that bears the remnants of an industrial complex and looks strangely like an abstract battlefield effects a metaphorical reversal of the course of vegetal growth and social healing. This piece, The Wreck of the Earth, is the poignant archaeology of a convulsed landscape onto which human presence seems to imprint itself only as detritus and obstacle. Symbols of space pitting cosmological imagination against the partitions that structure the “here and now” of neoliberal times, as well as temporal and topographic divides collapsed in dysfunctional systems of measuring the contemporary experience, also feature prominently in the artists’ installation works, which often suggest the function of idiosyncratic, “‘bipolar” maps or other tools for a disoriented sort of navigation. As suggested by this enumeration of visual and conceptual strategies, Vǎtǎmanu and Tudor’s practice meanders in and out of a singular modus operandi, one that inspects the fractures and disparities that articulate a political topography, the forms and modes of enunciation that animate the conflicted histories of the contemporary.



Florin Tudor

1974, Geneva / CH

Born in Geneva, Switzerland, 1974.

Mona Vătămanu

1968, Constanta / RO

Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor collaborate since 2000. Their artistic practice spans diverse media, including film, photography, painting, performance, and site-specific projects. Their residencies include the BAK’s Research-in-Residence program in Utrecht (the Netherlands) 2009; FRAC Nord – Pas de Calais, Dunkerque (France) 2008; and the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (Poland) 2008. Vătămanu and Tudor also participate regularly in numerous festivals, screening programs, and curatorial projects.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2012     “The order of things”, daadgalerie, Berlin, Germany

2011     “Land Distribution”, Lombard - Freid Projects, New York City, USA

2009     “Mona Vătămanu & Florin Tudor, All Power to the Imagination!”, Vienna Secession, Vienna, Austria

2008     “Living Units”, Mercer Union, Toronto, Canada

2006     “Re-animating the city”, Cooper Gallery, Dundee, UK

2005     “Unitati de locuit”, CIAC, Bucharest, Romania

2004     “Consuming the City”, Kunstlerhaus Buchsenhausen, Innsbruck, Austria

2003     “Living Units, Project Room”, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2012     “rites, thoughts, notes, sparks, swings, strikes. a hong kong spring”, Para/Site art space, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

2011     “Kind of Change”, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary

2010     “No New Thing Under the Sun”, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

2009     “Sounds and Visions”, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel

2008     “Dada East? Romanian Context of Dadaism”, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland

2007     “October. Exit, Memory and Desire.”, Artra Gallery, Milan, Italy

2006     “How to Do Things? - In the Middle of (No)where”, Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin, Germany

2005     “A Warlike People”, Monorchid Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

2004     „Formate / Moving Patterns“, Kunsthalle Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria

2003     “Border Device(s), insert in Border Counter / Multiplicity Collective, Utopia Station”, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy; Roomade Gallery, Brussels, Belgium

2002     „5 Senses”, CRCA, San Diego, USA

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Costinas, Cosmin, Winder, Jill, eds. 2009. Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor: Surplus Value. Utrecht: BAK [Exhib. Cat., BAK basis voor actuele kunst Utrecht (Sep. 6-Nov. 9, 2009)]

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