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Innovative Forms of Archives, Part Two: IRWIN’s East Art Map and Tamás St. Auby’s Portable Intelligence Increase Museum


Continued from “Innovative Forms of Archives, Part One: Exhibitions, Events, Books, Museums, and Lia Perjovschi’s Contemporary Art Archive” in issue 13.

Historiography, as Igor Zabel wrote, never was and never is a neutral and objective activity:

It is always a construction of an image of an historical period or development . . . This construction plays a specific role in the symbolic and ideological systems, throughout which various systems of power manifest themselves on the level of public consciousness. The fields of culture and art, thus art and cultural history, are those spheres where it becomes evident how the systems of power function symbolically. They namely construct stories and development systems and, simultaneously, present them as “objective” facts. Those viewpoints, that are incompatible with such constructions, are, on the other hand, marginalised, hidden or excluded.”

An awareness of the conditions and manipulations involved in the emergence of documents or works of art, which are then officially presented as “objective facts,” offers a means of contextualizing the ideas and knowledge that we inherit through education and society at large. Following Lia Perjovschi’s mapping of what a subjective art history can accomplish, two other projects offer some perspective on expanding archives and contest the hardening of grand (art) historical narratives imposed by either “colonizers” from Western Europe and the U.S. (in the case of the group IRWIN) or “colonized” local art historians (in the case of Tamás St. Auby). For the past decade, in the context of an encounter between postcolonial and postcommunist studies, the terms of colonization—its forking historical paths, official and unofficial documents, events, and stories—have been widely discussed within Eastern European theoretical discourse. In a recent text about the post-bipolar condition of the former Eastern Bloc, Vit Havránek explains how there existed a double colonization in the Eastern European states outside the Soviet Union:

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