ANOTHER WORLD WAS POSSIBLE: The Socialist Art System Revisited

13 Jun 2019

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University College London

London, United Kingdom


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  • Euston, Euston Square, Warren Street, Russell Square
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This panel discussion brings together contributors to the special issue of Third Text on Actually Existing Artworlds of Socialism and guest respondents to debate the legacy of the socialist system for contemporary art and politics.


IAS Forum Room, Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL

Anthony Gardner, Head of the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford
Magdalena Radomska, Art History Institute, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
Marko Ilić, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL
Moderated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes, Post-socialist Art Centre, UCL

Research into the institutional settings and practicalities of artistic production during the socialist period is giving rise to more nuanced accounts that complicate the distinctions made between the heroism of the neo-avant-garde and complicity of official artists, revealing an art system that was more variegated, flexible and generative than has been widely assumed. This panel examines the far-reaching implications of the understanding that artists from across the stylistic and ideological spectrum were productively imbricated in the calculated opacities and unlikely rapprochements of the ‘actually existing’ artworlds of socialism. Discussion of the specific traits of Eastern bloc artworlds and the key differences between art institutional landscapes across the Cold War divide opens onto the critical question as to what might be salvaged from the historical experience of art under socialism. Furthermore, if post-socialism is conceived not as a timeless category but as a specific historical period, then what are the prospects for the socialist project in the new social and political circumstances of unfolding global disorder?

'Actually Existing Artworlds of Socialism,' guest editor Reuben Fowkes, Third Text no.153 vol 32 (2018)

For speaker biographies and more information see:

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