Conceptualism in Eastern and Central Europe
This issue is dedicated to a theme that has been expected for a long time now: conceptualism in the Romanian and East-European visual arts. This trend which appeared in the West in the context of the reevaluation of classic modernism during the post-war neo-avant-gardes of the 1960s has become a sort of compulsory aesthetic paradigm in the last decades. More and more inclusive and diluted, conceptualism deserves an applied and exigent analysis nowadays. Set under the sign of an intransigent purism coming from Duchamp’s provocation from the beginning of the last century, but also influenced by the intellectual debates of the 1960s, conceptualism has reduced the artwork and the artistic action to their rational, logic, idea-centered essence – an essence “freed” of the traditional elements of “sensoriality”, expressivity, affective resonance, cultural symbolism etc. Nevertheless, in contact with the historical texture of each cultural space, conceptualism has arrived progressively to mix with numerous local influences which have given very different, even contradictory, colors to its content. The capacity of conceptualism to radically deconstruct ideological, linguistic, or visual mechanisms has transformed it into a favorite instrument of the most interesting East-European visual artists in their resistance against the political system. The file of this issue of Revista ARTA – coordinated by art critic and theoretician Cristian Nae – intents to demonstrate with the help of several brilliant texts signed by well-known Romanian and East-European commentators, how conceptualism has evolved in this cultural area towards a more hybrid and impure formula – but a formula which is succulent and very charged semantically (and politically). This is a way of transforming the disadvantage of a marginalized geo-strategic position and cultural provincialism into an advantage rooted in an incredible, even exceptional, cultural and spiritual richness.
Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief