Der Drang nach Osten

Remapping Mozart, Check Instead, Lina Dokuzović, Marina Gržinić/Aina Šmid, Muzaffer Hasaltay, IRWIN, Ivan Jurica, Marcel Mališ, Michal Moravčík, Joanne Richardson/David Rych, Jaro Varga, Hannes Hofbauer, Anetta Mona Chisa, S. Milevska, S. Ruppeldtová

Ivan jurica

Oct 28, 2010 - Dec 20, 2010
Galéria HIT, Bratislava

Oct 28, 2010 7PM

“Der Drang nach Osten – Parallels to Post-Colonialism and Coloniality within the Central European Space” is a research and exhibition project, which will take place in November/ December 2010 at the HIT Gallery in Bratislava, Slovakia. The overall project consists of the actual exhibition at the HIT Gallery, a published journal with theoretical texts on the topic and descriptions of the exhibited artworks, a small symposium with theorists from the fi eld of art and economics and a workshop on the topic with the students of the Ilona Németh Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts (VŠVU) Bratislava and the PCAP (Post-Conceptual Art Practices; Prof. Marina Gržinić) department of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. All of the events will take place in Bratislava. Within some contexts, projects on the topics of colonialism and post-colonialism are not as rare as they used to be. Nevertheless, they are still infrequent. They are limited to the areas/nations with a history of having outlying colonies, which is directly connected to the remembering of slavery and racism, and therefore concentrated within Western Europe, the USA, and within the spaces of the former colonies to a certain degree. Post-Colonial Studies is a part of the Western Eurocentric collective knowledge and history, controlled and regulated by state institutions, which may be a reason why the notion of a local history as a colonial one is nearly nonexistent within the Central European context. Post- Colonial Studies is taught at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, for example, but diff erent reasons exist for avoiding a wider context, such as confronting the local history as such a context. In the case of Slovakia, an imaginary independently ruled state formation was made possible two times in history: from 1939 – 1945 as the fascist Slovak state, and from 1993 to the present day, through nationalism and globalized neoliberal capitalism. The area was declared a nation-state with its own political control, made possible by geopolitical intervention or agreements from the ruling superpowers. Therefore, the fact that this project takes place in Bratislava, Slovakia is of twofold importance: fi rst, Slovakia is a geopolitical region with a colonial experience from the perspective of the colonized, however, with its history elaborated with a populist-nationalist agenda; and secondly, within the context of neocolonialism, through a globalized neoliberal capitalist transition towards EU membership. Slovakia and Bratislava are recognized as a periphery to the West, towards Vienna within the Central European context, for example, with the city proclaiming itself as the old new center of the Central European space. The aim of the project is, therefore, not to celebrate the independence of the state or nation, but precisely the opposite – to question the notions of independence and democracy, to articulate these within the context of coloniality1 and to, thus, think about the presence and history of the region as a history of control and oppression linked to capital, ideology, borders and the notion of progress, and furthermore, to rethink the functionality of colonial processes and consider their social consequences. This does not mean examining those elements solely within the form of foreign capital entering the area of economic interest, but an analysis of the reproduction of capital within colonized countries as an ideology that legitimizes exploitation, social inequality, (social) racism and its naturalization. Therefore, it would mean placing the social and political “reality” within an extensive historical context, dictated by economic and political interests. The history of colonization within the Central European space is not as black and white as described, however. Historically viewed, it has been a space of ideological battle and discontinuity, or rather abrupt ideological changes through political and social experiments during the Monarchy, the fi rst independent nation-states, National Socialism, Communism, Capitalism and so on. It is key to note the history of the Soviet Bloc from 1948 – 1989, in order to diff erentiate from the processes of subjugation practiced by Western colonial superpowers. The occupation/ colonization of Eastern European countries by the USSR was rather an ideological one, which did not carry with it the characteristics of bottomless economic exploitation practiced by the Western countries onto the „Third World.“ The internal colonization, i.e. in the case of the USSR, in Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia, was more about controlling the newly achieved territories and new national identity. However, there will not be as strong of a focus on that historical era within this project as it has become an object of constant re-historization within the current ideology, which has been subordinated yet again to the aspirations of the market and of consumerism. Nevertheless, all colonial practices were and are equally aff ected by the logic of Eurocentrism, an ideology of one‘s own superiority in terms of technological progress and evolution, which presents subjugation and usurpation as a helping hand in terms of civilizing “undeveloped” areas, a process of many advantages (only proclaimed advantages in fact) for local citizens, as a promise for the near future. There is, thus, a production and practice of racism or social racism, be it the Western European colonial history, the German “Drang nach Osten” as a compensation for the rather small colonized outlying areas (compared to, i.e. England or France), the USSR with its idea of a global communist revolution uniting the whole world under the leadership of Soviet communists or the current condition of neoliberal capitalist regimes of technological innovation and individualism. Why then “Der Drang nach Osten”? “Der Drang nach Osten” (German for “Eastward drive”) was a term coined in the 19th century to designate German expansion into Slavic lands. It became a motto of the German nationalist movement in the late 19th century. In some historical discourses, „Drang nach Osten“ combines historical German settlement in Eastern Europe, medieval military expeditions like the ones of the Teutonic Knights, and Germanization policies and warfare of Modern Age German states like the Nazi lebensraum concept. It was a conscious decision to use this terminology in an art project about (post-)colonialism and coloniality within the Central European Space. The reasons are manifold: to refl ect the immense infl uence of German culture and ideology on Central Europe, to regard language as the most powerful tool in terms of ideology and its role within the (neo-)colonial practices in the Central European space and to consider the long shadow of the National Socialist past within the area that is directly linked to the processes of transformation and nationalism in terms of the context – Germany and Austria are currently the two most powerful investors within the region. As the project takes place within an art context, the main focus will be on how the art fi eld and (offi cial) culture deal with the aforementioned topics. It should, on the one hand, reveal processes that are meant to represent emancipatory strategies, but which in fact follow Eurocentric ideologies and thereby sustain the current neocolonial processes. On the other hand, it should dismantle these through strategies of refl ection for rethinking possibilities of resistance towards market and capital through those terms. This was the criteria with which the artistic and theoretical contributions were selected. They each deal with topics crucial for analyzing the logic of capitalism, colonialism and their functionality: capital/power, technology/progress, the gaze/control over representation, history writing/ideology, and, as mentioned, the use of language. While these terms are listed separately here, they solely function as intertwined with and through one another within the capitalist system. Therefore, linking to critical theory is the only way to begin resistance against such a system, in order to re-think and question the dominant Western art history to de-link2 from official Eurocentric politics. This project, therefore, aims to open a discussion on capitalism and colonialism within the Central European space, as two historical processes which are inevitably linked to one another. This is crucial because of the recent collective shift towards right-wing policies visible in nearly all of the countries of the region, which has lead to an increased collective acceptance of proto-fascist tendencies.3
Ivan Jurica

(1) Walter Mignolo and Mladina Tlostanova have extended the notion of “coloniality” – originally coined by Anibal Quijano as the fundamental logic of modernity, which inevitably leads to a logic of coloniality – based on the “colonial matrix of power” that encompasses four interrelated domains: the control of economy (land appropriation, exploitation of labor, control of natural resources); control of authority (institution, army); control of gender and sexuality (family, education) and control of subjectivity and knowledge (epistemology, education and formation of subjectivity). See, for example: Walter Mignolo, Cultural Studies, Vol. 21, Nos. 2 – 3 March/May 2007, pp. 449 – 514. (2) Mignolo defi nes “de-linking” as changing the terms and not just the content of the conversation established by the modern/colonial world. While de-colonization did not free the world from coloniality, delinking aims to criticize post-colonial notions using the grammar of decoloniality for projects of de-linking from the colonial matrix of power; see: Ibid. (3) Here I use “proto-fascist” referring to Šefi k Šeki Tatlić, who claims that: “The result of these two examples are that a proper democratic man learns how to be at once a proto-fascist on one side, and an obedient, freedom-living citizen on the other.” See: “Diabolical Frivolity of Neo-liberal Fundamentalism,” Reartikulacija, no. 9, Ljubljana, 2009;