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Call for Papers for conference Contested Spheres: Actually Existing Artworlds under Socialism at Kassák Museum, 27-8 May 2016.

Open Call for the seminar group on Ecological Futures: Contemporary Art and Anthropocene Studies at Translocal Institute, February - May 2016.

Forthcoming conferences include a panel presentation on Cultural Technologies and Sustainability at MIT, Boston.

Walking without Footprints is on show at in Bratislava until 20 February.

Recent publications include the books The Green Bloc and River Ecologies.

  • Walking without Footprints Walking without Footprints Exhibition curated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes at Bratislava
  • The Green Bloc The Green Bloc Neo-avant-garde Art and Ecology under Socialism by Maja Fowkes
  • River Ecologies River Ecologies Contemporary Art and Envirionmental Humanities on the Danube, edited by Maja and Reuben Fowkes
  • Art and Ecological Crisis: Planetary Consciousness in Practice Art and Ecological Crisis: Planetary Consciousness in Practice Experimental Reading Room Seminar at Translocal Institute, Oct-Dec 2015
  • Translocal Library Translocal Library A specialised collection of books on art, ecology and Eastern Europe
  • Csaba Nemes: When Politics Enters Everyday Life Csaba Nemes: When Politics Enters Everyday Life Exhibition curated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes at Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK)



Contested Spheres: Actually Existing Artworlds under Socialism

Co-organised by Kassák Múzeum – Petőfi Literary Museum and Translocal Institute, Budapest

Dates: 27-28 May 2016

This conference aims to provide a platform for fresh research into the art history of Eastern Europe that brings to light the varied solutions that artists and cultural workers found to living and working inside the socialist system in the period of the 1960s and 1970s. Proposals for conference papers are sought that examine how artists, curators or art historians, or even entire art scenes, responded to the demands of the socialist system, investigating, for example, prominent cases of refusal and resistance, the self-image and social role of official artists, as well as instances of disingenuousness, ambiguity and doublespeak in the machinations of late Socialist art worlds...(more)

Cracking the Canon, Wooing the Museum, Luring the Market

Paper given by Dr. Maja Fowkes and Dr. Reuben Fowkes at the SHERA panel on Institutionalizing East European Art at the College Art Association Conference, Washington DC 2016

This paper considers an unusual collaboration between three competitive private galleries in Budapest which vividly illustrates the collective strategies developed by East European art players to break into the closed circuits of the global art world. This case study illuminates the wider question of how East European art has managed to significantly overcome the sense of isolation from the Western canon, exclusion from the higher altitudes of the international art world and neglect by major art institutions, sentiments that lingered unexpectedly for two decades after the ending of the Cold War...(more)

Ecological Futures: Contemporary Art and Anthropocene Studies

Translocal Institute,
February – May 2016

This seminar will take as its focus attempts within both environmental thought and contemporary art to imagine the ecological future. These range from visualisations of technocratic dystopias in which all the worst predications of environmental disaster come true, to the wished for emergence of sustainable communities thriving in a new age of planetary consciousness. While some have tried to imagine a literally post-human ‘world without us’ in the geologically not so distant future, others explore the idea that in the wake of large scale anthropogenic change the natural world will never be the same again...(more)
The Green Bloc
Neo-avant-garde Art and Ecology under Socialism

Maja Fowkes
Budapest/New York: CEU Press, 2015

Expanding the horizon of established accounts of Central European art under socialism,The Green Bloc: Neo-avant-garde Art and Ecology under Socialism uncovers the neglected history of artistic engagement with the natural environment in the Eastern Bloc. Focussing on artists and artist groups whose ecological dimension has rarely been considered, including the Pécs Workshop from Hungary, OHO in Slovenia, TOK in Croatia, Rudolf Sikora in Slovakia, and the Czech artist Petr Štembera, Maja Fowkes’s innovative research brings to light an array of distinctive approaches to nature, from attempts to raise environmental awareness among socialist citizens to the exploration of non-anthropocentric positions and the quest for cosmological existence in the midst of red ideology...(more)

Walking without Footprints, Bratislava,
11 December 2015 – 27 February 2016

Maja and Reuben Fowkes

Participating artists: Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan,
Fokus Grupa (Iva Kovač / Elvis Krstulović),Oto Hudec, Michal Kindernay, Cecylia Malik, Davor Sanvincenti

To walk into the landscape today is to do so in awareness of the tragic record of anthropogenic transformation of the natural world. Taking care where we tread, avoiding disrupting the undisturbed, we cannot help anticipating the sound of the chainsaw, the peel of gunshot and the eerie silence that marks the absence of birds, reminding us that civilisation has changed nature forever. The carefree jaunts of the urban flaneur seem out of place in a time of anthropocene anxiety, but also strangely discordant is the recurring desire to map out the terrain, marking individual presence on the blank canvas of the land, so that even ephemeral traces of footsteps in the snow now provoke unease...(more)


River Ecologies: Contemporary Art and Environmental Humanities on the Danube

Edited by: Maja and Reuben Fowkes
Translocal Institute, 2015

Challenging anthropocentric conventions that seek to harness the river for economic, cultural and political purposes, River Ecologies places the complex ecological materiality of the Danube at the centre of artistic and scholarly attention. Drawing on the insights of artists, scientists, anthropologists, writers and environmental historians, brought together in the experiential setting of the River School, this collective inquiry journeys to sites of urban and natural wilderness to explore issues of reciprocity, resilience, non-human agency and interspecies solidarity...(more)

Art and Ecological Crisis: Planetary Consciousness in Practice

Translocal Institute
October - December 2015

This seminar examines how contemporary art not only comments on current debates around the growth-oriented economy and its effect on the natural world, social inequality and its relation to climate change, the technocratic paradigm and forms of political power, but also decisively contributes to bringing about genuine change. It also offers a forum to explore points of connection between global and planetary consciousness, indigenous knowledge and scientific culture, as well as multi-species and human solidarity. A number of free places are available for the seminar group and those wishing to participate are invited to send a short motivation letter to the organisers. The group will meet at Translocal Institute on alternate Mondays beginning on 12 October 2015...(more)

Art, Populism and the People
Simon Sheikh

Translocal Institute Budapest
12 May 2015

In his presentation at Translocal Institute, London-based theorist Simon Sheikh addresses crucial issues around art and democracy that are of critical relevance to the social and political context of artistic production at a time of global uncertainty. This talk is realised within the framework of Anthropocene Response, a series of guest lectures at Translocal Institute and on the occasion of the Off-Biennale Budapest...(more)


What’s Left of Nature: Art and Wilderness in the Anthropocene

Translocal Institute,
February - May 2015

At a time in which nature appears thoroughly exploited, subjugated and managed, reflecting an anthropocene era in which humans have usurped planetary processes and used technology to turn their dreams of mastery over nature into a nightmarish prospect, a counter urge to reconnect with what is left of wild nature is beginning to emerge...(more)

River Symposium on Art, Ecopower and the Liberation of Energy

Central European University, Budapest
3 October 2014, 14.00-19.00

River Excursion to Szentendre
4 October 2014, 10.00-17.30

Speakers:  Axel Braun, Peter Coates, Ian Fairlie, Jozsef R. Juhász, Cecylia Malik, Ilona Németh, James Prosek, Martin Schmid and Nick Thorpe

The River Symposium on Art, Ecopower and the Liberation of Energy considers the political, social and ecological proportions of the river and examines it as a site of power. While appreciating the natural strength, kinetic energy and resilience of rivers, the discussion will also take into account political struggles over their use, as well as schemes to control and harness their flows....(more)



River School Bucharest Bucharest

Tour of the Văcărești Bucharest Delta
9 May 2014, 2-4 pm

The Văcărești swamp is an abandoned lake site in the south-eastern part of Bucharest, the remains of a hydrological flooding system begun during Ceausescu’s regime, but never finished...(more)

Like a Bird: Avian Ecologies in Contemporary Art

Trafo Gallery Budapest
Dec 2013 - Jan 2014 Bucharest
May 2014

Like a Bird is a group exhibition with a focus on avian ecologies in contemporary art, a theme that provides a platform to investigate intricate questions around the changing human relationship to the natural world, the channelling of environmental awareness and its political dimensions...(more)

Csaba Nemes - Don’t Try to Make it Logical!

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka
25 June – 19 July 2014

In his distinctive and wide-ranging critical art practice, Hungarian artist Csaba Nemes investigates the overlaps between personal and political history, the dark side of the nationalist psyche, and the fragile bonds of social solidarity. The exhibition Don’t Try to Make it Logical at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka surveys Nemes’s singular artistic achievement that deftly incorporates painting, drawing, film, animation, photography, as well as art activism. ...(more)

Art, activism and daily life in an age of crisis

Translocal Institute Budapest
September 2014

Isabelle Fremeaux and John Jordan will present their work with the The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, a collective that brings artists and activists together to create new forms of civil disobedience and post capitalist life...(more)

Art in the Age of the Anthropocene

Translocal Institute
Oct-Dec 2014

The realisation that we have become geological agents with the power to alter the most basic physical processes of the planet has wide-reaching consequences for economics, society, politics, culture, as well as art. This seminar considers the anthropocene as a transformative concept for environmental art history, sustainable art systems and green curating...(more)


Knoll Gallery Vienna
2 Oct - 15 Nov 2014

#underthestars explore ecological alternatives to the tragic figure of the 24/7 immaterial worker who spends too much time in bed - replying to emails, creating clips for social media, interacting virtually, but not going anywhere. The exhibition highlights the opposite tendency of sleeping outdoors, making a bed beyond the illusionary security provided by modern architecture, and challenging the alienation of a technologically-determined life symbolised by the bad habit of working in bed...(more)

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