All _Perspectives

11/30/2017 _Perspective

Marginality as a Space of Freedom

Some Notes on the Popularity of Naïve Art Among Soviet Painters in the 1960s and 1970s

The term ‘marginality’ initially appeared in American sociological theory in the 1920s to describe the behavior of groups of immigrants who were living on the border of two cultures. Accepting the main rules of lifestyle customary among Americans, they also preserved many traits of their local tradition; thus, they could assimilate different elements of these two cultures. [1] In the end of the 1960s, after the civil unrests and strikes in Europe and the USA, the meaning of the term ‘marginality’ became associated with a program of escapism and protest against the sociocultural norms dictated by the establishment. [2] Movements like the hippie phenomenon were uncommon within the Soviet Union at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, but this period was nonetheless marked by rising disappointment in the politics of the Communist party among the Russian intellectual and creative milieu. The origins of this process have been repeatedly discussed by both Russian and international scholars. [3] It is common to speak about a conservative turn taken by the new state leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1964. Brezhnev’s cultural policy was marked by a campaign against ‘the blackening of the Soviet past,’ a number of arrests of the dissidents, and an increase of censorship. Alienation from the West, an absence of international exhibitions, and a lack of information about contemporary art led Soviet artists to cultural isolation. The peak of the crisis in the relationship between the government and intellectuals, however, is usually dated to 1968. It is concerned with the incursion of the Soviet tanks into Czechoslovakia and the repression of the Prague Spring. Although there was only one public protest, involving eight Moscow citizens in Red Square, many intellectuals were shocked by the intervention and described it as the final failure of the Thaw. [4] A hidden disbelief in the state political system was common among artists. The Soviet art scene, homogeneous during the Stalin era, began to crack apart in a number of places after the 1953 death of that dictator. Several groups and studios that did not accept the officially supported method of Socialist Realism surfaced in Moscow. In the mid-1960s, their activity was prohibited, and the activists went underground. Another artistic community, considered by scholars as marginal, consisted of non-professional or naïve artists. By the 1970s, naïve art had become quietly popular among Soviet artists. Art historian Ksenya Bogemskaya noted: “By their existence, a primitive, naïve…

11/30/2017 _Perspective

Another Twelve Years

Hungarian Newsreels and the Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968

This report has just arrived from Prague. Following the days at the end of August, the daily routine of life slowly returns. In the first days of September, some traces of attempts for blocking the traffic were still visible here and there, like burnt-out buses and various gangs of people. A typical picture: groups gathering in the streets and squares, arguing sometimes more aggressively, sometimes rather softly. The soberness, the traditional friendship of the nations in fraternity, the discipline of the military corps and the activity of the Party and of the governmental organizations of Czechoslovakia do overcome difficulties. The networks of traffic and communication work. People calmed down, doing their job again. The Prague Airport, which was closed down for a while, re-enters the air traffic. Planes heading to the five continents can carry new, reassuring news of consolidation. So begins the commentary of the weekly Hungarian Newsreel of the 37th week of 1968. [36] The film, published in early September of that year, depicts the streets of the Czechoslovakian capital as a peaceful place, spotted with only a few traces of the earlier turbulences. Apart from several burnt-out vehicles, we see citizens, soldiers, and police forces chatting in sunny open-air spaces with pleasant smiles on their faces. In these images, men and women hurry to perform everyday tasks, while children lie in prams or peek playfully from an airstair next to an airplane. Everything seems peaceful and quiet, as if to assure the viewer that certain events about which they might have heard were only part of a temporary misunderstanding, without a bigger stake. The editor has good reason to neglect to mention that the Hungarian People’s Army was involved in a military action invading the country, an event that was nowhere near as delightful as the scene presented here. Even though he cannot skip the news as a whole, he hides and reshapes the details, creating a new narrative already in fiction. 1_That Summer Night During the night of August 20, 1968, almost twelve years after the Soviet regime crushed the Hungarian revolution, the Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia to put an end to the Prague Spring and the country’s reformist trends. During the joint invasion, which was announced as a military training exercise with the code name Operation Danube, Soviet troops were accompanied by the military forces of Hungary, Poland, East Germany and Bulgaria. Among many other…

07/31/2017 _Perspective

Visualizing Law’s Pluralities

Artistic Practice and Legal Culture

The interrogation of the cultural construction and negotiation of legal practices in the conference Law’s Pluralities: Cultures/Narratives/Images/Genders (Giessen, Germany, 2015) offered a stimulating occasion for the presentation of pertinent artistic works. The international artistic positions by Il-Jin Choi, Raul Gschrey, Mi You, and Manu Luksch reflect upon social and legal frameworks, and demonstrate means to visualize phenomena that often remain abstract. The artistic interventions themselves are also productive: through their explorations, contestations, and subversions, they participate in an alternative production of knowledge; they mediate and shape legal practices.

11/30/2016 _Perspective

Aesthetic Experience

Visual Culture as the Masterpiece of Nonhumanity

This essay proposes a reflection on aesthetic experiences and their implications on the nonhuman for the study of culture. It focuses on visual culture as one of the representative means for a life of coexistence. In the present day, images search for an agreement with innovation as the new reality of culture. However, the life experiences offered by the digital world are being realized through the new senses offered by the media. Therefore, can today’s realities of visual culture be considered nonhuman?

11/30/2016 _Perspective

Non-Human Actors and Identity Performance Online

In 2014, Bruno Latour began his keynote speech at the Digital Humanities Conference in Lausanne by describing several fallacies typical of the discourse in the digital domain.[1] He started with the cloud effect fallacy, a tendency to construct the digital as a non-substantial, ephemeral field, whereas in reality, it has a strong material component. As an example, he stated the vast electricity consumption of Google’s data centers: according to the reports of the New York Times, they continually consume as much electricity as a city with 200,000 households. [2]
The discussion around two anti-terrorist laws that were recently passed in Russia became a further illustration of this fallacy. Named after their creator Irina Yarovaya, the so-called “Yarovaya package” featured, among other things, a change in the law “On Communication,” which made it obligatory for mobile operators to store on Russian territory information on the exchange of messages and calls between users for three years, and the contents of the exchanges for a period up to six months beginning in July 2018.