Juliet Jacques_about the concept of May You Live in Interesting Times_58th Biennale di Venezia

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Juliet Jacques (image curtesy Verso)

‘…This also conceals the fact that in Eastern Europe, these ‘interesting times’ are not new, especially in the former Yugoslavia with its 20th century shifts between empire and monarchy, Nazi occupation and socialism, and catastrophic war during the 1990s. It does, however, provide a useful shorthand for the entrenchment of far-right governments in Poland and Hungary or the rise of violent nationalist street movements in Ukraine. The responsibility of the artists and curators reacting to this title should be to create/choose forms that are capable of exploring the long-term historical reasons for these developments, ideally underpinned by class analysis even if that analysis is not foregrounded. Artists from countries with strong Marxist traditions are perhaps better placed to make such work: I have found video and performance artists in post-Soviet or Yugoslav nations impressively nuanced in their investigations of how the legacies of state socialism have come up against the destructive forces of international neoliberalism. The works of, say, Nada Prlja (North Macedonia) about migration, or Mykola Ridnyi about the eradication of Ukraine’s radical anarchist histories and the post-Maidan war with Russia, show far more insight into what lies behind these ‘interesting times’ than (say) the bewildered British liberal artists…’

 

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Full text in MAP Magazine

 

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