The aim of the online exhibition archive is to create a common knowledge and discourse around the history of various curatorial and artistic practices within the Eastern-European art scenes. Our goal is to present an international network of professional relationships, documents of exhibitions, events, and art spaces instead of merely displaying artworks. We also attempt to propose a methodology with which documents and factual information, as well as legends and cults can be researched, processed, and shared. We are focusing on the period determined by different versions of state-socialisms and capitalisms, political control of official art events, and the development of a parallel culture that incorporated a network of very heterogeneous dissident positions defined on the level of ideologies, art movements, or life-styles. The time-frame of the archive is not set with exact dates as they are slightly different in every country. We wish to trace and introduce new methodologies that can incorporate the particularities of the art events realized in these specific circumstances into the international discourses around exhibition theories.
Exhibitions since the beginning of the 20th century are the primary sites of mobilizing attention and public discussion. Exhibitions and the history of exhibitions establish the public and political potential of art, in a different way than the history of art, enabling important insights into the transformations of the public sphere, the changing social role of art, and how regional cultural politics and its institutions interact with international trends and movements. Exhibition histories reveal multiple artistic and ideological positions homogenized usually by the “official” art history.
The narratives of exhibition history are not based on oeuvres and objects of art but particular events that potentially capture, concentrate, and conserve the complexities of their historical moment. It is a history of situations, if you will, rather than isolated objects or personalities. The mapping of this uncharted territory has a great potential in going beyond the already established histories that are written by powerful institutions and the big players on the art market. The history of exhibitions that we are working on is more sensitive to the interactions between artistic production (of art, subjectivities, situations) and its political context, where exhibitions as social events can serve as sites of critical reflection, intervention and the emergence of politics in general.
These issues have a special significance in within this historical and geographical context in focus. Thus we use “the East of Europe” not only as a geographical, but also as a historical denomination in itself, referring to the Cold War era. We were interested to find out what public roles and possibilities the era’s political and social climate provided for progressive art, as well as what connections these non-conformist practices had with official art and international trends.
Tranzit.hu‘s project Parallel Chronologies has started in 2009 in the form of a research exhibition and symposium in Budapest connected to the international collaboration “Art Always has its Consequences“. The research exhibition was presented again in the Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, in 2010. In 2011 we continued the project in the framework of a new collaboration, “Recuperating the Invisible Past” and realized a new exhibition in Riga Art Space completing our chronologies with those of our partners, LCCA, Riga, Art History Institute, Tallinn, and Vilnius National Art Gallery. The tranzit.hu part of the exhibition was realized in a newspaper format, and it also included Sándor Hornyik’s project “Other Revolutionary Traditions”.
Creating the present online archive, we have asked our partners – up to 2014 11 authors – to present a chronology based on their own professional interests and previous curatorial research projects, instead of aiming at a comprehensive historical survey. Each contributor has been invited to interpret our concept and use the established structure of the archive flexibly fitted to their own curatorial practices and attitudes. The archive is compiled by practicing curators as our object of investigation, the exhibition, is a presentation format hard to examine with the usual methodologies of academic research; still, we hope that it will be a valuable source of information for researchers of various backgrounds and interests. Parallel Chronologies as a research and exhibition project—and from 2012, as an online exhibition archive—is intended to remain open for reinterpretation, new partners and approaches.
How to use the archive?
The site is structured around art events that are presented through their basic data, description, and textual, visual documents. Photos of the events and scans of related publications can be viewed in the image galleries embedded in the event-entries, while reports, scripts, reviews, quotations from exhibition catalogs, and other written documents are linked to the end of the entries. These textual documents are also gathered to form a reader.
The selected events can be listed and ordered according various criteria: thematic keywords, dates, locations, and the names of their actors in order to enable various comparisons and readings. Thematic keywords connect events that happened in different locations and are parts of different narratives in order to see what exhibitions have in common within the realm of “East-Europe”. At Locations you can also find an always-changing map that shows what cities and geographical areas the archive currently covers. Each contributor has written a narrative, commentary text to their chronologies, which are good starting points for more in-depth research, and they may serve as guides in the archive as well.
Editor: Zsuzsa László (tranzit.hu)
Contributors: Ieva Astahovska (Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art), Ivana Bago (Zagreb/ Duke University), Daniel Grúň (Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava), Dóra Hegyi (tranzit.hu), Yelena Kalinsky (Rutgers University), Journal “pARTisan” (Minsk)/Olga Kopenkina (independent curator and critic, New York), Mari Laanemets (Art History Institute at Tallinn Art Academy), Ewa Małgorzata Tatar (Instytut Sztuki Wyspa), Dovile Tumpytė (National Gallery of Art, Vilnius), Jelena Vesić (Belgrade / Van Eyck),
Assistants: Barbara Dudás, Luca Szűcs
Technical assistant: Dávid Karas, András Szőnyi
Translation: John Bátki, Adél Eisenstein, Justin Ions, Andres Kurg, Ewa Mikina, Zsófia Rudnay, Bea Sándor, Zsuzsanna Szegedy-Maszák
Copy-editor: Max Vasa Bach, Niamh Dunphy
Partners: Artpool Art Research Center, Miklós Erdély Foundation, Petőfi Literary Museum – Kassák Museum, Portable Intelligence Increase Museum (superintendant: Tamás St.Auby)
Special thanks: Gábor Andrási, László Beke, Judit Csatlós, Petra Csizek, Katalin Izinger, György Jovánovics, Tamás St.Auby, Dóra Maurer, Edit Sasvári, Annamária Szőke
The archive is realized in the framework of the international project, Recuperating the Invisible Past, which receives a grant from the Culture 2007 program of the European Union. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
ERSTE Foundation is main partner of tranzit.
Publisher: Tranzit Hungary Public Benefit Association
When authors, copyright holders, or photographers are not indicated they are unknown.