ANETTA MONA CHIŞA & LUCIA TKÁČOVÁ
As its geopolitical and historical realities have by now almost ceased to exist, Eastern Europe today has come to signify something different from a location. Eastern Europe is a topos of the imagination onto which the phantasms of the former East and the former West project a more and more disillusioned but increasingly distorted image. This is why I propose that we speak of Eastern Europeanness instead - a result of the post-communist condition that didn't quite seamlessly evolve into the capitalism practiced in liberal democracies. Eastern Europeanness is to be found not only in the various levels of integration into capitalism, from foreign immigrant workers to the nouveaux riches. It also hopefully represents a trope for what remains unassimilated and marginalised, the undigested of history and politics.
Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová like
to play out the cliché of that flamboyant Eastern European who enjoys all the
guilty pleasures of capitalism. They also like to say things all Western
Europeans think but that only an Eastern European, not quite trained in
political correctness, can say out loud. The artists take nothing at face
value, and everything becomes raw material to work with - revolutionary hopes
and the bitter lessons of history, the legacy of modernism, the critical role
of art, the rules of the art world, sex, blondness, Capital…
But how should the radical Eastern Europeanness of Chişa & Tkáčová’s practice be read, without falling for the existing clichés? How is the logic of the particular forms of critique the artists have developed to be understood?
One possible approach is to go back to the origins of the post-communist condition, from the premises of which the two artists explore the state of global capitalism today. I propose that we address the communist condition itself, as the horizon of the artistic imagination of the early avant-gardes.
I would like to suggest that the transformative approach which Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová adopt in the face of the Western art world can be seen from the perspective of something like the early-avant-garde desire to transform commodities into specific socialist objects - comrades. In his famous letters from Paris, Rodchenko voiced his confusion over the deeply felt seduction but also the emptiness of the Western commodities with which he was confronted for the first time. He tried to formulate what made the socialist commodity different in his eyes: “Our things in our hands must be equals, comrades, and not the black and mournful slaves that they are here.”
But the Russian avant-garde had an ambiguous attitude towards the question of material culture (in the sense of everyday objects). The everyday (byt) was generally seen as something to be transgressed, as petty, backward and feminized, in brief: an obstacle on the path to spirituality and progress. On the other hand, there were artists, like Tatlin for example, who attempted to transform even the most banal utilitarian household objects.
There is something arising from this tension between high ideal and practical reality, between rigorous critical thought and feminine whimsicality, that is reconsidered and reworked in the art of Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová in a way that makes me think Eastern Europeanness could be a form of critical practice in its own right. (Dessislava Dimova)
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