gallery talks

who if not we...? a series of talks
22 Oct 2004

In connection with Who if not we...?, on October 23 and 24 a series of talks will take place among prominent artists, curators and theorists from Central and Eastern Europe.

Who if not we...? consists of seven new exhibitions and a number of additional projects throughout Europe. The primary motivation for this programme is to investigate how art can play a role in contemporary social and political developments.

As points of departure for the series of talks in SMCS on 11 three themes have been formulated, arising from the publication Who if not we...? and related to the exhibition ‘Time and Again’, to be seen at Stedelijk Museum CS from October 23, 2004, through January 30, 2005.

‘Time and Again’ presents work by six artists and one artists’ collective: Little Warsaw (Bálint Havas and András Galik), Ján Mancuška, Deimantas Narkevicius, Paulina Olowska, Roman Ondák, Tadej Pogacar and Wilhelm Sasnal. They focus on diverse interpretations of ‘time’ and contemporary views of history.

SMCS on 11 is the programme of lectures, discussions, film and video presentations of Stedelijk Museum CS. The ‘11’ refers to the 11th floor of the Post CS Building, where most of the activities take place.

Language: English                    Entrance: Free entry
Reservations via or
+31 (0)20 573 2811.
No confirmation of reservation; only a reaction when overbooked.

Series 1: Blind spot
Friday, October 22, 2:00 - 4:30 p.m.
(NOTE: limited attendance!)

Why are there no famous modern Central and Eastern European artists known? Not because there weren’t any, but because they were outside of the Western art historians' field of vision. Key figures such as Edward Krasinski (Poland), Július Koller (Slovakia), Jirí Kovanda (Czech Republic), Mladen Stilinovic (Croatia) and OHO (Slovenia) have therefore not received the recognition they deserve.

A new generation of artists from the region (Pawel Althamer, Roman Ondák, Boris Ondreicka, IRWIN) are helping to change this. Now that there is major international interest in them, they point to a blind spot in the writing of Western art history.
With: Tomas Pospiszyl, curator and writer (Prague), co-editor of Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the 1950s (MoMA/MIT Press 2002); Georg Schöllhammer, editor-in-chief, Springerin (Vienna), working presently on a series of publications for Documenta 12; Borut Vogelnik of IRWIN, an artists’ group from Ljubljana, who on the occasion of their twentieth anniversary had a travelling retrospective exhibition, Irwin: Retroprincip 1983-2003; Vit Havránek, art historian and curator (Prague), founder of PAS, a space for the production and distribution of contemporary art from the Czech Republic; Jirí Kovanda, artist (Prague).

Series 2: Immortal buildings?
Saturday, October 23, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Dictators are mortal, but the buildings that they have put up to express their political power outlive them most of the time. During the communist era a number of megalomaniac building projects were carried out: Stalin gave Poland the towering Palace of Culture and Science; with his Palace Ceaucescu wanted to erect the largest building in the world in Bucharest; the East German parliament had the baroque City Palace in Berlin, symbol of Prussian imperialism, demolished and replaced with the Palast der Republik.

Despite the fall of the Wall and the overthrow of communism, these buildings still stand - although the Palast der Republik is threatened with demolition. They are reminders of times past, but also succeed in gathering new meanings and functions. This series of talks examines the interactions among politics, architecture and social processes in times of great political change.

With: Ole Bouman, editor-in-chief of Archis (Amsterdam); Klaus Overmeyer, landscape architect (Berlin), Jill Winder, curator and critic (Berlin), co-editor of the publication Who if not we…?; Little Warsaw, artist pair András Gálik and Bálint Havas (Budapest), represented in Time and Again in Stedelijk Museum CS, and in Het Domein in Sittard; Deimantas Narkevicius, artist (Vilnius), participant in Time and Again and presently also to be seen at the Tate Modern, London.

Series 3: The Hero factor
Saturday, October 23, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Every era creates its own heroes. Certain people and groups are catapulted to the role of moral exemplars. During communism in Eastern Europe these were the workers. For instance, miners were presented as heroes in paintings and propaganda material. They were examples to follow, on the road to the highest state of real socialism. Artists too have been 'marketed' as exemplary for society in certain periods. Which role models do we have in our time? Who are our heroes today? This series of conversations investigates to what extent the political changes of 1989 have changed the presentation of role models for the society to follow.

With: Adam Szymczyk, curator and director of the Kunsthalle, Basel, previously worked with the Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw; Anda Rottenberg, art historian, critic and curator (Warsaw), employed by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (AMI), responsible for the Polish entry for this year's Sao Paulo Biennale and other exhibits; Paulina Olowska, artist (Warsaw), graduate of the Rijksakademie in 2003, participant in Time and Again; Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, artist team (Vilnius), in 1997 founders of Jutemptus, for social and artistic practice,  exhibitions in a.o. Witte de With (2000); Hanno Soans, curator of contemporary art, Art Museum of Estonia and critic (Tallinn), research fellow at the Henry Moore Institute (Leeds), organiser of the exhibition The Last Hero?

Editors & organisers of Who if not we…? A series of talks:
Jelle Bouwhuis, Leontine Coelewij, Roos Gortzak, Mária Hlavajová, Dragan Klaic, Jill Winder.

Who if not we…? A series of talks is a component of the visual arts programme Who if not we...? of Thinking Forward, a cultural programme marking the Dutch chairmanship of the European Union in 2004. Thinking Froward consists of various cultural activities in The Netherlands and in the ten new EU member states. Thinking Forward is an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and was developed under contract from the Fund for Amateur and Performing Arts and the Mondriaan Foundation.