Various Artists

Rearview Mirror: New Art from Central and Eastern Europe

Works from a new generation of Central and Eastern European artists that engage post-conceptual strategies and collectively challenge accepted notions of the East as a social, political and art historical monolith.


Paweł Althamer (Poland), Anetta Mona Chişa (Romania/Czech Republic) with Lucia Tkáčová (Slovakia), Gintaras Didžiapetris (Lithuania), Dušica Dražić, (Serbia), Igor Eškinja (Croatia), Johnson & Johnson (Estonia), Anna Kołodziejska (Poland), David Maljković (Croatia), Ján Mančuška (Czech Republic), Dénes Miklósi (Romania), Alex Mirutziu (Romania), Anna Molska (Poland), Ivan Moudov (Bulgaria), Ciprian Mureşan (Romania), Deimantas Narkevičius (Lithuania), Roman Ondák (Slovakia), Anna Ostoya (Poland), Taras Polataiko (Ukraine), Wilhelm Sasnal (Poland), Sislej Xhafa (Kosova), Katarina Zdjelar (Serbia)

In a rearview mirror
I suddenly saw
the mass of the cathedral in Beauvais;
large things inhabit small, briefly.

“Rearview Mirror” from Going to Lwow, 1985; translated by Marysia Pilatowicz

Rearview Mirror is a large thematic exhibition that brings together the work of a new generation of artists from Central and Eastern Europe. Looking both to the past and to the future, the works by the 22 artists in the exhibition engage post-conceptual strategies and forms, and collectively challenge accepted notions of Eastern Europe as a social, political and art historical monolith. In an attempt to alter stereotypes of Eastern Art and Easternness in general, the exhibition is a kind of preliminary experiment and dialogue in the post-socialist period. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, one might expect great changes in the cultural practices in the region known since the Yalta agreement as the “Eastern Bloc” even though the political cultures and  histories of the various nations comprising it greatly diverge. Indeed this is the case in many practices that have been selected mainly for the artists’ choices of non-traditional forms that range in media from video, installation and performance to sculpture and painting. Many of the artists are self-taught or have worked outside of the academy (where their non-traditional approaches would not have been supported). Other artists worked through academic channels where previous avant-gardes maintain their position within official institutions.

Although the specific political histories of the countries of the East are inextricably linked to past aesthetic practices, in many exhibitions based largely on a political geography there is a tendency to expect art to demonstrate something about the relation between East and West, to demonstrate something about its Easternness or to generalize the unique political situations from which they may have derived. Instead this exhibition does not do this and does not attempt to be all-inclusive or encyclopedic. Rearview Mirror brings together the work of artists from diverse backgrounds and histories to look at the non-traditional practices of a younger generation of artists from the last decade, presenting an opportunity to view artworks by relative newcomers such as Ciprian Mureşan, Gintaras Didžiapetris and Anna Molska in the context of some of their contemporaries already known through international art circuits such as Paweł Althamer, Roman Ondák and Wilhelm Sasnal.

Christopher Eamon is a Canadian-born, New York-based independent curator who has curated numerous international exhibitions and edited and written for a wide number of publications. For over a decade Eamon was curator of the internationally respected Pamela and Richard Kramlich Collection in San Francisco.

The exhibition is a co-presentation with the Art Gallery of Alberta, where it will be on view from 27 January – 29 April, 2012. Rearview Mirror will be accompanied by a substantial publication with commissioned texts, co-published by The Power Plant and Art Gallery of Alberta.

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