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Organizing Committee:


Communisms' Afterlives

A conference initiated by Elena Sorokina and Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez.

With contributions from Dessislava Dimova, Olga Kisseleva, Albert Heta and Agency.


Friday 23rd of April 2010, 15h - 17h at le Café Central:


Through a series of polemic dialogues, we would like to trace different generations of intellectuals (artists, curators, philosophers, art historians) from the former East and West of Europe that deal with "shades of red", the afterlives of Communism and its (un) expected turning points in its most recent philosophical and artistic reception following the financial and, more generally, post-Fordist crisis.

After the collapse of the Soviet block, communism as idea, image or problem has been regarded as "outmoded, absurd, deplorable or criminal, depending on the case". Today, it is often presented by the mainstream media as a parenthesis of history, an aberration of the 20th century, as "a completely forgotten word, only to be identified with a lost experience". Although the communist hypotheses of previous eras may no longer be valid, their histories, narratives and key notions have never ceased to spark attention and inform recent discussions such as the communal versus the common, and material versus immaterial property, to name just a few. Perceived from a greater distance today, communism has re-emerged as a topic for investigation in artistic and exhibition production, that reflects it in diverse ways, addressing the relevance of the term today or inviting provocative comparisons with the present.

This seminar aims at presenting various works that recast ideas related to communism and revisit it as a complex and diverse arena of political and aesthetic attitudes, which varied between nations, communities and historical periods. By no means does the seminar intends to take a nostalgic tour through the past decades, but rather seeks to address thetopic through concrete art and exhibition projects realized recently. All of them are trying to deconstruct the idea of monolith, still very present in today's reception, and to recuperate various episodes, stories and notably, the "communist apocrypha" - texts, music, visualproduction - which have never been part of the established ideological canon, and whose intellectual patterns shed new light on what the contemporary uses of the notion of communism might be. Instead of treating communism as pure political abstraction, the projects presented by the seminar deal with concepts, events and/or particular personalities related to communism and its history which have survived the Bildersturm of the recent past and can be artistically reactivated.

The language of the conference is English. Admission is free.

The seminar will take place in Brussels and Paris, at The Public Schools.

Brussels: April 23rd, 3-5pm
Participants: Agency, Dessislava Dimova, Albert Heta, Olga Kisseleva
for more information please follow the link:

Paris: April 24th, 3-6pm
Participants: Pietro Bianchi, Renata Poljak, Société Réaliste, Oxana Timofeeva
for more information, please follow the link:



Elena Sorokina is Paris/Brussels based curator and critic. She was a Whitney Museum of American Art ISP fellow in New York in 2004. Her recent projects include "Petroliana" at the Moscow Biennial 2007; "Laws of Relativity" at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy; "On Traders' Dilemmas" at YBCA, San Francisco, 2008; and “Scènes Centrales" at Tri Postal, Lille, France, 2009. She has been writing for Artforum, Moscow Art Magazine, Die Zeit and other publications.

Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez is a curator and critic based in Paris and Ljubljana. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the EHESS in Paris where she also runs a seminar on contemporary artistic practices with Patricia Falguieres, Elisabeth Lebovici, and Hans Ulrich Obrist. She is currently working as an associate curator at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. She is a member of the editorial board of ARTMargins and Maska.

Dessislava Dimova is a writer and curator based in Brussels.  She is a PhD fellow at the Institute for Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia. Her scientific interests are in the field of contemporary art, Eastern European and post-communist art, the diverging modernism of the East and West. Her curatorial work focuses on the political and social role of contemporary art and experiments with exhibition formats as anti-events and vectors for cummunication. Recent projects include The Spam Show (internet, 2007-2008) and The School for Revolution (Kultura weekly, 1 Magazine, 2008 – ongoing). She is the founding member of Art Affairs and Documents Foundation, Sofia and is currently co-curating the 2d International Biennial in Antakya, Turkey, 2010.

Olga Kisseleva is a Saint Petersburg/Paris based artist. She is Professor and Head of Art&Science department of the University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne and the editor of Plastik Art&Science revue (Editions de la Sorbonne, Paris, France). Olga Kisseleva exhibited at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), KIASMA (Helsinki), Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), National Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow), ARC (Paris), Reina Sofia (Madrid), Art Institute (Chicago) and the Biennials in Venice, Istanbul, Dakar, Tirana and Moscow.

Albert Heta is an artist based in Kosova. Heta's works are often simple acts of intervention in an existing social condition, responses to a given situation, or rethinking of existing objects. His notable works ‘It's time to go visiting: No visa required’ (2003) or his 'Kosovar Pavilion Venice Biennial 2005' (2005) are not merely the installations or acts of appropriation, but also acts of engagements with the conditions under which the works were accepted by the curators, media, politicians, and the public. Since 2006, his work is also channeled through a collaborative intervention, project institution Stacion - Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina.

Agency is the generic name of an agency that was founded in 1992 by artist Kobe Matthys and is based in Brussels. Agency constitutes an ongoing list of things that witness hesitation in terms of the bifurcation of nature into the classifications ‘nature’‚ and ‘culture’. This list of things is derived from juridical processes, lawsuits, cases, controversies, affairs and so forth, where this bifurcation has been discussed. Agency invokes these things during varying assemblies inside exhibitions.




constance's picture

Dear Katrin,

it will actually be from 3:00 pm till 5:00 pm

looking ofrward to see you there!

It is not quite clear when it starts and ends:
from 3-6
from 3-5
from 4-6

Looking forward anyway!


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