East Art Map: Contemporary Art and Eastern Europe surveys the extraordinary artistic landscape of the eastern half of the European continent. It is an ambitious attempt to reconstruct some of the hidden histories of contemporary art and offers compelling discoveries for readers based both outside and within these geographic limits. The Slovenian artists’ group IRWIN, who initiated the concept of East Art Map, have invited artists, curators, theorists and critics to record a wide range of innovations and radical actions that have taken place in the region since 1945. Despite its substantial contribution to a new art history, this book also remains an artists’ project, with a subjective and quixotic appeal in addition to its informative contents.
In recent decades, Eastern Europe has undergone rapid changes in its political and economic dogmas and it is now among the most significant areas for the production of contemporary culture. East Art Map tells the region’s compelling histories in different ways, based on a selection of key artworks and artists. For the first time over such a broad terrain, the less celebrated sector of Europe talks to us on its own terms about its past and its future.
Not only does East Art Map serve as a guidebook through the visual culture of totalitarian and post-totalitarian societies, it is the largest contemporary art documentation project ever undertaken by the East on the East. ‘Where history is not given’, the editors write, ‘it has to be constructed.’ This book is that construction.
The IRWIN group consists of five artists: Dusan Mandic, Miran Mohar, Andrej Savski, Roman Uranjek and Borut Vogelnik. The group was founded in 1983 in Ljubljana and was also co-founder of Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). Alongside other activities, IRWIN have been engaged in a series of projects which have actively and concretely intervened in social and historical contexts in the decade that redefined the status of art in Eastern Europe (Kapital, NSK Embassy Moscow, Transnacionala, East Art Map). The first three of these projects resulted in books edited by Eda Cufer, who started to collaborate with IRWIN at the beginning of the 1990s. IRWIN is also involved in the creation of three art collections in Eastern Europe.