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Matej Vakula, Luxury Packaging, 2007, wrapped statues, Academy of Fine Arts & Design, Bratislava, Slovakia. Photograph by Pamela Miller

Revolution, Transformation, and Identity: Central European Artists Reflect upon Post-Communist Art, Urbanism, and Culture
Janeil Engelstad
Oct 30, 2011 (3pm)
Panel Discussion

Please RSVP

After the disintegration of the Soviet bloc, personal and collective identity became a major theme for many Central European artists and writers. Freed from the requirement to actively take part in the building of a socialist society, artists began to publicly examine personal histories, national memory, and the impact of Socialist Realism. Throughout the region, newly organized governments began the process of forging new national identities, while also investigating the impact of communism upon individuals and society. It was an idealistic time when many people held the belief that the utopia unrealized under socialism could be built and sustained by adopting democratic and cultural values. This initial civic optimism, which embodied the first post-communist governments and constitutions changed to disillusion as these developing democracies faced the political, cultural and economic pressures of capitalism and globalization.

Reflecting upon the broader cultural milieu, as well as their own work, the panel will discuss how the influences of democracy, capitalism, and globalization have defined contemporary Central European society and culture. They will also address how these forces have impacted the design of the built environment and shaped the generation of artists born after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Janeil Engelstad (USA) is an artist, curator and educator who, working independently and collaboratively, produces exhibitions and projects throughout the world. In 2009 she produced Voices From the Center: Central Europeans Reflect on Life Before and After the Fall of The Berlin Wall, a multiform project that stemmed from her experience as a Fulbright Scholar at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Oto Hudec (SK) is a visual artist whose work includes exhibitions and installations in public spaces that examine immigration, refugees, the rights of indigenous people, and the impact of globalization upon the natural environment. His work has been exhibited throughout the world and was featured in the 2009 Bienal Mercosul in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Magda Stanová (SK) is a visual artist whose interest lays in urban development, cartography, analysis of creative processes, theory of photography, and history of ownership. In 2008, her book W cieniu fotografii was published by Foundation for Visual Arts in Krakow, Poland and in 2009, she was nominated for the Discovery Award in Rencontre d'Arles festival in France.

Miklós Surányi (HU) is a Budapest based photographer whose images paint an intimate portrait of Hungarian society and culture. He has exhibited throughout Europe and Asia and his work has been published in several Hungarian publications, including limited edition portfolios published by Budapest’s Lumen Gallery.

Matej Vakula (SK) is an artist and curator working in a variety of media, often using public space as a vehicle to explore how the political becomes personal, the personal becomes political, and the politics of site. His work has been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States and has been featured in Art Forum and other media outlets.

Jan Worpus (PL) is a principle at Grafixpol, a design studio based in Łódź, Poland that works in a variety of mediums and formats to create digital and printed materials that convey the ideas, emotions and essence of society and culture. Grafixpol designed the interactive website for Voices From the Center.


This event is co-hosted with Three-Walls in Chicago and is in concurrence with the project Voices from the Center, material of which continues to be presented in lectures and exhibitions throughout Central Europe and the United States.  For more information visit