About the project: Art Always Has Its Consequences

  • kuda.
  • Mladen Stilinović, Artist at Work, 1978, courtesy of the artist.


The project Art Always Has Its Consequences is conceived as a long-term international collaborative platform. It aims to create and disseminate knowledge about paradigmatic socially engaged art and visual culture practices in Central and Eastern Europe, including their relationships towards the wider European context both in the past and in the present. Through exhibitions, research laboratories, seminars, publications and educational events, the project will build upon the strong heritage of modernist and conceptual art and theory in Croatia, Poland, Serbia and Hungary, creating vital links between national practices and contemporary developments in both the regional and wider European context.

Though more and more accessible, knowledge about art, its development and important historical practices in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe is still overwhelmingly mediated through Western discourse. Artists and cultural workers do not recognize themselves and their specific conditions in the monolithic construction that was termed “(the former) socialist Eastern Europe”, that so often serves as a common denominator in Western projects. The project Art Always Has Its Consequences, named after a quote from Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović, is related to specific historic, economic and political circumstances, but at the same time aims to surpass them.

While seeking to avoid and deconstruct false and mythical geographical determinations, it aims to create new research methods and communication forms amongst artists and cultural practitioners from different regions of Europe, excluded for many years from the official discourse of international art history and disconnected from each other. In a critical and creative way our project reopens the issues of modernist legacies and histories of the countries involved in the project, as well as questions of auto-histories, self-positioning, the reinterpretation of art history, collective trauma and amnesia. It highlights various practices through which art reaches its audience, and analyses their significance for broader relations between art and society, through focusing on four areas of study that are still on the margins of official art narratives: the history of exhibitions, artists’ writings, archival practices and conceptual design and typography.

By re-contextualising different examples from the aforementioned fields, and by referring to their socio-political implications within the dynamics of both “alternative” and “official” culture, Art Always Has Its Consequences addresses the need to build a new art history that challenges the hegemonic paradigm in which art from former Central and Eastern Europe is reduced either to a delayed reaction to Western developments, or an instrumentalised ideological production. Our project questions such simplistic assessments, and focuses on past relations between cultural circles in Central and Eastern Europe, where neither artistic movements nor the formal language were unified or homogeneous. On the contrary, the distinct developments of modernism in the former Yugoslavia and Poland, with their continuous participation in the international art world, contrast with the cultural isolation and direct Party interventions that produced an artistic landscape of absolute division between the official and underground scene in Hungary. The differences in the forms of communism in the former Yugoslavia, Poland and Hungary are seen as starting points for the investigation of the specific circumstances shaping the relationship between culture and politics, which is aimed at creating a common research perspective.

Art Always Has Its Consequences consists 4 segments:

1) The Invisible History of Exhibitions by WHW / What, How & for Whom? (Zagreb)

2) Artists’ Texts by tranzit.hu (Budapest)

3) Working Title: Archive by Muzeum Sztuki (Łódź)

4) ID: Ideology of Design by kuda.org (Novi Sad)

Through an interdisciplinary approach that combines multiple formats of presentation and investigation with a series of cultural events, Art Always Has Its Consequences will create opportunities for artistic, cultural and intellectual cooperation. It will contribute towards creating a joint programme amongst cultural practitioners from countries that until recently did not have regular contact or a common platform for communication.

August 2008
Curators: Dora Hegyi (tranzit. hu), kuda.org, Magdalena Ziółkowska (Muzeum Sztuki), What, How & for Whom? / WHW
Designer: Dejan Kršić