Octavian Esanu
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New norms and procedures
The introduction of the curatorial function
in The postsocialist contemporary
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This chapter offers for discussion some aspects of research related to the rise and evolution of the SCCA network, as it was roughly outlined above. The main goal of this project is not one of historical recreation, but to identify certain fissures or ruptures that led to critical structural permutations in the process of artistic production during the transition to capitalism. The chapter’s title, “New norms and procedures,” is a direct reference to what some former employers and observers believe to have been the main contribution of these organizations in the constitution of the new paradigm of “contemporary art.” And while the latter has been advertised and promoted as the “art of the open society,” or as the “free art concept” (whose ideological underpinnings are discussed in the next chapter in the context of Cold War liberalism), here I examine some of the new patterns and norms of this new paradigm, by drawing on examples of art exhibitions and artistic activities produced within different hubs of the Soros art network during the 1990s. Such new institutional practices include, for example, the advent of the role or job of “the curator,” and the format of a “curated exhibition.” Both the curatorial job and format are believed to have been one of the most noticeable and lasting impacts of the Soros network’s Annual Exhibition program, discussed in this chapter along with some of the most dominant artistic and curatorial themes of the 1990s.

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The postsocialist contemporary

The institutionalization of artistic practice in Eastern Europe after 1989


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