Revolutionary Romances: Into the Cold – Alternative Artistic Trajectories into (Post-)Communist Europe

Thursday, 13/10/2022, 9 a.m.—5:30 p.m., hybrid event: Hermann-Glöckner-Raum, Albertinum and digital via livestream, free entry, no registration required


This free one-day

This free one-day conference at the Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (with streaming online) brings together international scholars to present and debate revisionist accounts of Cold War artistic exchange. With the aim of disrupting the East-to-West “defection” narrative of the post-war art worlds and revealing a more porous Iron Curtain, participants will explore the reasons why artists operating in Western contexts chose to enter the Communist space, and the unexpected outcomes of these subversive journeys.

American artist Charles White during his visit to the 8th Art Exhibition of the GDR at the Albertinum in 1978
© SLUB Dresden / Deutsche Fotothek / Barbara Morgenstern
American artist Charles White during his visit to the 8th Art Exhibition of the GDR at the Albertinum in 1978


The day is structured in three thematic sessions:

  • The morning will focus on innovative channels for the cross-border circulation of art across Cold War divides, spanning Europe, North Africa, and Latin America.
  • In the afternoon neutral spaces that provided platforms for artistic collaboration based on shared values between artists on opposing sides of the Iron Curtain are discussed.
  • The closing session asks how racialised artists in the United States explored the potential of socialist artistic practices in Eastern Europe to inform their quest for rights and recognition at home.

Program (PDF)


There will be interventions by internationally renowned artists: the London-based Slovenian performance, installation, and film artist Jasmina Cibic, and the Moscow-born New York-based conceptual artist Yevgeniy Fiks. Both will present examples of their work and reflect on their personal practices of using archival materials to challenge our understanding of Cold War history, by revealing the links between art and political rhetoric in the Communist and post-Communist contexts. The artists’ collective Slavs and Tatars will close the day with their Lecture Performance “Red-Black Thread.” The performance looks at the experience of labour, race, and sexuality from a shared Eastern European and African-American perspective to better understand failed promises of conviviality and coexistence.


© Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, photo: Bobby Rogers
Slavs and Tatars, Red-Black Thread, 2018-present, lecture-performance. The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2018

Conference conveners:

Conference conveners: Julia Tatiana Bailey and Kathleen Reinhardt

Participants in the conference: Jérôme Bazin, Jessica Horton, Mary Ikoniadou, Ksenia Nouril, Agnieszka Pindera, Gaelle Prodhon, Maria Anna Rogucka, Sophie Thorak, Christopher Williams-Wynn, and artists Jasmina Cibic, Yevgeniy Fiks, and Slavs and Tatars.

The conference will be held in English.

This conference builds on the Art in Translation/University of Edinburgh anthology project Hot Art, Cold War, and is presented in conversation with the research and exhibition project Revolutionary Romances: Transcultural Art Histories in the GDR at the Albertinum of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. This conference is the first in a series of three that explore alternative Central-East European art histories, with workshops to follow in 2023 at the Institute of Art History and the Piotr Piotrowski Center for Research on East-Central European Art at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, and at MARe/Museum of Recent Art in Bucharest, Romania.

The conference is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
The lecture performance by Slavs and Tatars is made possible through the support of the Goethe-Institut New York.



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