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Socially Engaged Art, Emerging Forms of Civil Society: Early 1990s Exhibitions in Budapest and Bucharest

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Through a contextual reading and critical analysis of two post-1989 art exhibitions in Hungary and Romania, Polyphony (1993) and Exhibition 01010101 (1994), this article explores the distinct role played by curatorial discourses and socially engaged contemporary art in catalyzing locally emerging forms of democracy in the early 1990s. These exhibitions reveal the paradox of civil society in the wake of communism. Embracing a neoliberal approach, they juxtapose a desire for collective change against a longing to participate in the contemporary international art scene.
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Keywords: Exhibition 01010101 ..; Polyphony; Soros Centers for Contemporary Arts; exhibitions in Hungary; exhibitions in Romania; post-communist exhibitions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Pittsburgh

Publication date: December 5, 2012

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  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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