Transitland: video art from Central and Eastern Europe 1989-2009
The project focuses on a long, turbulent stretch of time, made more confusing by its geographical scale and the complexity of the transition period, all of which was beyond understanding, not only from the outside, but within the zone as well. The territory covered by Transitland spans almost half of Europe, both in terms of population and surface area. To some degree, the former Eastern Bloc represented the homogenous and hidden face of Europe beyond the Iron Curtain. Today, Central and Eastern Europe, with their distinct subregions, include twenty-four post-socialist European countries in an area that held only nine states a mere twenty years ago.
Transitland does not only constitute the largest presentation of video art coming out of this part of Europe, but it is also a unique attempt to work with and reflect on a vast period of change. In addition to the numerous discursive and documentary pieces that describe, analyse and contextualise the "transition", the multitude of viewpoints expounded by these video artists provide a singular interpretation of aesthetic and critical perspectives in the current discourse about this time.
For this programme, 29 videos were chosen from the Transitland archive and then divided into four sections that present an overall view of the common concerns of artists from the different parts of the East. The section titles - Interpreting the Transition, Street Level, Reflections and Obsessions - allude to the focal points of the artworks in them. Many of the works fit into more than one category and include different artistic interests: performance art, auteur documentaries, sound and conceptual actions and experimental literature and animation. At times they are simple and consist of a single take, but most are structurally and theoretically complex pieces. The categories are never sufficient to describe the individual works, but they can at least establish a starting point to stimulate debate.