Organized by doctoral students from The Graduate Center, CUNY and Harvard University, this conference proposes the centennial of the 1917 Russian Revolution, with its both cultural and historiographical aftershocks in the region, as an opportunity to re-examine the last century of artistic production in the countries of Eastern, Central, and South Eastern Europe. While acknowledging the significant role of the Soviet Union as both a political superpower and an arbiter of cultural policy in the region, a central aim of this conference is to “provincialize” Russia in order to challenge the common perception that Eastern European art can be entirely equated with Soviet politics and aesthetics.” Instead, this conference will highlight the ways in which modern and contemporary artists from these countries—former East Germany, former Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Moldova, and Albania—negotiated their positions within the broader cultural networks of the region.
Among the questions this conference hopes to address are the cultural and political relationships between East and West, questions of national identity in relation to international avant-gardes, the formation and cultural influence of the politics of the interwar period, as well as artistic collaborations before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Foregrounding the relationship between conceptions of internationalism and transnationalism, as well as national identity within a region in which borders, citizenship, and political allegiances have continually shifted, this conference hopes to disrupt traditional narratives of artistic production in these countries, too long focused at specific states and artists in isolation or exclusively in relation to the socio-cultural and socio-political context of the Soviet Union.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- Interwar-period cultural diplomacy in Europe
- The many faces of socialist realism(s)
- The fate of state-sponsored cultural initiatives after market liberalization
- Critical regionalism in the “margins” of Europe and the USSR
- The Marxist art history and criticism in Eastern Bloc
- Gender inequality in art of societies that claimed to have achieved gender equality
- Nationalism and art in early 20th century Eastern Europe
- Artists–recluses and hermits, and the issues of ‘inner emigration’
- The Thaw and cultural life in post-1956 Europe
- The secret life of abstraction in design and textiles
We invite submissions in English for 20-minute presentations from emerging scholars and graduate students, including those who are working on interdisciplinary projects related to the subject of this conference. Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words briefly describing your project along with current CV in one PDF file to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 20, 2017. We will notify accepted participants by August 31.