Enlargement broadens the horizons
The admission of ten new „old“ member states to the EU on May 1st this year has seen not only a growth in its population to 75 million, but also changes to Europe’s cultural identity. In the course of these events, the question that begs to be asked is: “Is there such a thing as a common identity?” The gallery circuit, which opened on September 3rd as part of the KULTURJAHR der ZEHN (cultural year of the ten new member states) is an attempt to tackle this question, even if, ultimately, it can offer no concrete answers. The event, under the subtitle of Erweiterung ist mehr bildende Kunst und Fotokunst, starts off the autumn art season of the cultural year. Next year there will be film, literature, dance and theatre.
The organisation of the gallery circuit, with the involvement of curators, galerists and ambassadors from the ten new member states has brought Europe’s network closer together and for this reason alone, despite numerous other exhibitions and events, the gallery circuit remains the core of the initiative. The composition of the panel for the opening discussion „The End of National Art?“ in the Konrad-Adenauer- Stiftung (KAS) highlighted the cultural diversity, which was summed up nicely by German curator Anemone Vostell: The image of the gallery circuit is as diverse as the image of Europe. During a discussion that lasted about an hour, the head of the KAS cultural department Dr. Hans-Jörg Clement, the Berlin galerist Eva Poll, the curator Anemone Vostell, the Maltese artist Anton Grech, the Hungarian galerist János Szoboszlai and the Slovenian galerist Meta Gabrsek Prosenc examined the national characteristics of the art market and the effects of EU expansion on each country’s national art scene.
The discussion demonstrated just how greatly each country’s expectations and demands differ. Entry into the EU will not change much for the Slovenians, who, according to Prosenc, have had a contemporary art scene since the fifties. The small country of Malta, on the other hand, is in the process of establishing the national character of its contemporary art scene and former socialist countries like Hungary are still battling with infrastructure problems and the aftermath of system change. My generation has been waiting for this moment for 15 years. With this emotional statement, the owner of the acb gallery János Szobosszlai, despite his criticism of discriminative allocation policies for government aid and distortion of competition, summed up the essence of the discussion: we are happy to be a part of it.
Laurits, Down the Stream
Laurits, Oicumenic Airlines
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