Octavian Esanu
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Art in the “open society”
The aesthetics of problem-solving
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As discussed in previous chapters, the main postulates outlined in the mission statements of these centers – in their imperative to build an institutional infrastructure for the art of the “open society,” which is to say “contemporary art” – amounted to an ideology of postsocialist artistic institutions and practices in the 1990s. But such statements were the fruit of various managerial-bureaucratic narratives woven in the Open Society Institute offices of New York and Budapest. The postsocialist or Soros contemporary had a clear managerial agenda, but it lacked an aesthetic or artistic program. This chapter examines a small segment of the vast ideological universe of new or neo-liberalism. It engages with the work of a few intellectuals who have left a deep impact not only on post-1989 reforms in Eastern Europe, but also on the world. The chapter looks into some of the ideas about art that were popular among a number of Central European intellectuals that were affiliated in some way or another with Karl Popper. Rather than consider their general social, scientific, and economic postulations – for which they have been celebrated by advocates of the free market, over the course of the past century – the chapter traces their artistic and aesthetic beliefs, seeking to comprehend the place of art in the ideological universe of Cold War liberalism. The chapter poses such questions as: What is the place of art in the “open society” that Soros, following Popper’s dream, decided to build in Eastern Europe?

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The postsocialist contemporary

The institutionalization of artistic practice in Eastern Europe after 1989


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