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e-flux conversations

Conceptual Art and Eastern Europe: Part II


Continued from Conceptual Art and Eastern Europe, Part I

Zdenka Badovinac: What you’ve mentioned leads me to the question of identity versus other international questions that were being explored around 1968. How much are we forcing this Eastern European identity? This question only occurred after the Soviet regime collapsed. Before the fall of the wall, in Russia or in other Eastern and Central European countries, did artists talk about this?

Piotr Piotrowski: They did not, but intellectuals did, particularly at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s. At this time, among Central European intellectuals there emerged a sort of identity which was perceived as original, being simultaneously Central European and against the Soviet regime. Think of Kundera, for example, or Konrád in Hungary, or Michnik in Poland. Artists did not follow this attitude, these statements, but writers did. Among them there was this striking, strong desire to construct a Central European identity, which was not exactly a Western one.

ZB: What was at the center of this discussion?

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