Affective Time (Socialist Futures and Post-socialist Pasts)

Event: Public talk

Location: NEC conference hall & Zoom

17 June 2022, 17.00-19.00 (Bucharest time)

Cristian NAE, Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Theory, Faculty of Visual Arts, George Enescu National University of Arts, Iași, Romania

The public talk will take place at the NEC, but the audience is kindly asked to rather resort to the Zoom transmission since our conference hall cannot accommodate more people than the ones engaged in the seminar.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 826 4054 1798
Passcode: 414844


Although 1989 became for many the threshold for the emergence of “contemporary art” as a global phenomenon, art history focused on Central and Eastern Europe also used multiple markers of discontinuity such as 1945, 1956, 1968 and 1989, which shape mainly the social and political context of artistic production and reception. Thus, concepts such as “socialism” and “post-socialism” became keywords in periodizing art from Central and Eastern Europe.

Nevertheless, these umbrella concepts are not only describing a plurality of “constellational modernities”, relating to different heterogeneous temporalities and narratives across the bloc, but they are also affectively charged. On the one hand, affects shape the understanding of certain neo-avant-gardes from the perspective of the present. On the other hand, they were explored by contemporary artists that used images to store, expand and reflect on the notion of durational time after 1989.

In my presentation, I investigate what Dieter Roelstraete called “art as historiography”, which describes the way contemporary artists materialize, imagine and visualize the past through poetic means. By taking a closer look at time-based art projects from the region, I identify a series of key poetic strategies meant to destabilize the linear conception of time, such as critical nostalgia, alongside a fictional projection of a dystopian future. Thus, I argue that these artists propose what could be conceptualized as “affective time”, which might be taken into account when writing an “affective art history” as suggested by Luiza Nader. According to them, contemporaneity is being understood as a field of possibilities, as a co-existence of simultaneously divergent narratives of modernization, and as a multiplicity of different speeds and durations. If contemporary artist’s anachronic temporality is to be accepted by art historical writing, its affective undertones define the art object as an image in a state of perpetual becoming, and expose the entanglement between past and present as an effect of the artwork’s participation to multiple temporalities at once.

This event is organized within Periodization in the History of Art and its Conundrums. How to tackle them in East-Central Europe seminar series, a program supported by the Getty Foundation as part of its Connecting Art Histories initiative.