Octavian Esanu
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The ideological bedrock of the postsocialist contemporary
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This chapter turns its attention to “antipolitics,” a word for what is seen as the dominant form of the resistance of East-Central European intellectuals to socialist totalitarianism. It will argue that “antipolitics” should be regarded not only as the main oppositional strategy and force developed during late socialism but also as the most significant ideological base for the construction of the “postsocialist contemporary” after 1989. It was “antipolitics,” as practiced in Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia – and also earlier, and under very different conditions, in Moscow, in the context of post-Stalinist cultural and political wars (which, in fact, made Central European antipolitics possible) – that prepared the ground for a radically new relation between art and politics in postsocialist contemporary art. This new relation is developed early on in some of the first Annual Exhibitions within the SCCA network, and these efforts – formulated in terms of a new “paragon” of “PC Eastern Art” (where “PC” is made to stand for post-communism, personal computers, political correctness, the post-national condition, and others) – will be celebrated by the end of the 1990s as the major achievements of the Soros network. But the new conflation of politics with art during the transition are not only products of the post-1989 processes or liberalization – channeled along with grant dollars through various programs – and neither are they simply or only “Western imports,” but they are also to some degree residues and remnants of various antipolitical strategies developed within late socialist dissident groups, now in charge of normalization.

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The postsocialist contemporary

The institutionalization of artistic practice in Eastern Europe after 1989


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