Transitions | Symposium: Perfect Harmony / ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTRE

Transitions | Symposium: Perfect Harmony

Recent Art and Politics in Eastern Europe

Transitions 3. Central Europe

27-28 NOV 2015
Upper Stage
Can art become an agent of coming together politically? A two days symposium on artistic, activist and political dilemmas of Eastern Europe.
Free admission

Watch the conversation on video (scroll down).
The video is available only in Greek.
Watch all the conversations on the VIDEOS tab.

It almost seemed like all the big problems had moved to Greece. But the agenda changed again —for example the focus is now once again on Eastern Europe, where austerity and xenophobia meet in ‘ perfect harmony’. The region’s firm anti-immigration stance reveals not only social insensitivity, but neo-nationalisms and the fear of the other. The division between East and West in Europe may be even deeper than we thought – and the post-Communist condition is not quite over.
This two-day symposium –with artists’ dialogues, a screening, a lecture, panels and a performance– reflects the artistic, activist and political dilemmas of Eastern Europe. How is the artistic community reacting to the harsher political weather? How does it challenge oppressive and narrow-minded regimes? How does it tackle issues of rampant nationalism? And can art, once again, become an agent of coming together politically? Or is this too much to expect?

Curated by: Katia Arfara and Joanna Warsza

With: Boris Groys, Piotr Gruszczynski, Nataša Ilić (WHW), Szabolcs KissPál, Luca Janka László, Sodja Lotker, Tomislav Medak, Livia Páldi, Dan Perjovschi, Hajnalka Somogyi, Kostis Stafylakis, Kuba Szreder, Adam Szymczyk, Wojtek Ziemilski, Artur Żmijewski




Welcome and introduction by Joanna Warsza and Katia Arfara

Artist talk: ‘Things can’t go on like this’. Oh but they can, they can.

Dan Perjovschi in conversation with Nataša Ilić (WHW)

18:00-18:15 Intermission

Panel I: Performing politics in Europe’s semi-periphery
With: Sodja Lotker, Tomislav Medak, Kostis Stafylakis
Moderated by Kuba Szreder

The panel will investigate the concrete examples of how the politics are performed (by using artistic means) in the context of European semi-peripheries. In our investigations we will refer to the current discourses about "the performative" aspects of politics. We are not so much interested in the buzz-aspect of this term, but rather in the capacity of "the performative" to merge efficiency and subversiveness, as analyzed by Jon McKenzie, a theoretician of Performance Studies. We will refer, among many others, to the experiences of Zagreb-based collective BADco., whose members were also active in the urban movements; the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space looking at the city as a ready made; as well as in the local Athenian perspective with the art activist engagement within the recent political and social turbulences.

20:00-20:15 Intermission

20:15-22:00 Holy Mass by Artur Żmijewski
Films projection followed by a conversation of the artist with Adam Szymczyk
(It will not be live streamed)

The Holy Mass was a theater event in which Zmijewski staged a catholic mass in a Warsaw theater. A ritual that serves the Catholic community was re-performed in a place that serves the secular community, however keeping the same seriousness, solemnity and set of rules. Most Poles have been raised as Catholics and all the performativity resulting from assisting at the religious ceremonies is deeply rooted, if not trained, in the memory of their bodies. The Holy Mass became both a canny criticism of the Church and its symbolic position in Poland, expressed with the ‘words of Jesus’; as well as the ritual of the last common belief of a certain non-community, a belief in art. Artur Zmijewski repeated this theatre event in Krakow and Mass II is its recording.

Courtesy the artist, Foksal Gallery Foundation (Warsaw) and Galerie Peter Kilchmann (Zurich)
Dramaturgy: Igor Stokfiszewski


15:00-16:45 Panel II: Hungary in focus: The potentials of bottom-up democratic organization in culture and civil society

With: Szabolcs KissPál, Hajnalka Somogyi, Luca Janka László
Conceptualized and moderated by Livia Páldi

The invited speakers introduce projects and practices from the artistic, curatorial and social field through case study examples in order to demonstrate and assess the potentials of collaborative efforts via self-organisation in facilitating critical thinking. They all promote the necessity of civic engagement and the use of community dialogue in critical social, cultural and political issues under the current, FIDESZ-KDNP coupled nationalist, anti-democratic and increasingly centralised authoritarian regime in Hungary.

16:45-17:00 Intermission

17:00-18:00 Post-Communist East: Nationalism Revisited
Lecture by Boris Groys
Followed by Q&A (15 minutes)

18:15-19:00 Intermission

19:00-20:00 Performance: Small Narration by Wojtek Ziemilski
(It will not be live streamed. Click here for ticket prices)

20:00-21:00 Artist talk: Big disasters, small narrations
Wojtek Ziemilski in conversation with Piotr Gruszczynski

Click here to read the participants' bios.

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Entrance to all the events in the “Talks and Thoughts” Cycle is free and on a first come, first served basis.
The distribution of entrance tickets begins one (1) hour before each event.
Simultaneous translation is provided in the case of speakers using a language other than Greek.

The "Talks & Thoughts" events are also live streamed on
The videos are also available after the end of the shows, on the VIDEOS tab.

17 Nov 2015

18:00 Main Stage
Free admission


Transitions Central Europe: Audition for a demonstration Lola Arias

21 - 22 Nov 2015

21:00 Main Stage
Full price: 10 €   
Reduced: 5 €
Small groups (5-9 people): 9 €  
Large groups (10+ people): 8 €
People with disabilities: 4 € -
Companions: 5 €
Unemployed: 4 €


Transitions Central Europe: Magnificat Marta Górnicka

14 - 15 Nov 2015

21:00 Upper Stage
Full price: 10 €   
Reduced: 5 €
Small groups (5-9 people): 9 €  
Large groups (10+ people): 8 €
People with disabilities: 4 € -
Companions: 5 €
Unemployed: 4 €


Transitions Central Europe: Our Secrets Béla Pintér

28 - 29 Nov 2015

19:00 Upper Stage
Full price: 10 €   
Reduced: 5 €
Small groups (5-9 people): 9 €  
Large groups (10+ people): 8 €
People with disabilities: 4 € -
Companions: 5 €
Unemployed: 4 €


Transitions Central Europe: Small Narration Wojtek Ziemilski