History is not given. Please help to construct it.
In the West, when someone even passably familiar with art history comes across a work by Joseph Beuys
or Yves Klein, say, they immediately see it in relation to an entire network of other artworks and artists,
among whom Beuys and Klein occupy important places. The "map" of Western art, in other words, is
largely present in the minds of almost everyonein its basic outlines at least.
Not so in Eastern Europe, where the transparent structure of an overarching art history simply does not
exist. In fact, no referential system is in place that is accepted beyond the borders of a given country and
by which artifacts, events, and artists, significant to the history of art, can be organized and appreciated.
Instead of such a transparent system, which allows for comparisons on an international scale, as in the
West, what predominates in Eastern Europe is art-historical narration organized into local mythologies,
or systems, adapted to the needs of individual countries, plus the occasional double system, which is full
of legends and stories about art and artists opposed to the "official art". Documentation about the latter
is slight and sporadic, and comparisons to contemporary art and artists beyond the frontiers of a country
are very rare.
Which is where East Art Map (EAM) comes in. EAM aims to critically (re)construct the history of art in
Eastern Europe between 1945 and the present in an effort to transgress against these closed systems
of interpretation and evaluation. By leading interested individuals through the last fifty years of the visual
arts in the region, EAM hopes to serve as an orientation toolan art-history GPS, as it wereto a vast,
but uncharted territory. 250 artists/events/projects considered of major importance by 24 invited art critics,
curators, and artists from Central, Eastern and South-Eastern countries have been preliminarily identified.
This is, however, an initial selection only. Through its new website,EAM invites the public to provide it
with data that might well change the topography of the map it is formulating. In this way, EAM hopes to
accelerate the collection of data and democratize its organization, to make it possible for anyone to
collaborate in the creation of a history that will unfold before their eyes, and to establish a space and
create conditions that facilitate communication among theoreticians, critics, and others from around
EAM also invites anyone that wishes to, to propose additions or modifications to any project or artwork
included on EAM. Submitted proposals will be evaluated by a committee of six Eastern and Western
European experts every two to three months.
Since 1983, the IRWIN artist group has been working with various media, from painting to public art, from sculptural works and installations to publishing. Following their "retro principle", the five-member-group utilizes and combines different motifs, symbols and signs from the fields of politics and art, which results in the transformation of their historical meaning and content, and in the re-contextualisation and deconstruction of their related ideologies.