Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery offers a provocative exploration of post-1989 history with work by a young generation of artists from three major “blocs”—Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, China, and the Middle East. The tensions of the Cold War era in the ‘80s and the critical breaking point of 1989 and its aftermath are a history shared by each of the artists in the exhibition. Cross-Time Stories: Global Subjectivities After 1989 focuses on their individual memories and how these shape their understanding of contemporary life.
Cross-Time Stories is open to the public from Wednesday, May 9 through Saturday, June 09. The Wallach Art Gallery is located on the eighth floor of Schermerhorn Hall on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus, 116th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more, call 212-854-2877.
The artists in Cross-Time Stories speak and expound on their memories of the past, addressing different regimes, heroes, mayhem and today’s consumer culture. In many instances, their stories conflict with official historical narratives. The dichotomies of memory and post-memory, and of documentary and fiction, and the ways they figure in attempts to talk about social change or trauma, are among the key debates explored in the exhibition.
Curated by Ceren Erdem, a recent graduate of the Masters Program in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies, the exhibition brings together 12 artists and artist collectives: Atfal Ahdath, Cao Fei, Cevdet Erek, Alicja Karska & Alexsandra Went, Alexandra Lerman, Alban Muja, Ahmet Öğüt, Sun Xun, Sophia Tabatadze, Rayyane Tabet, Mona Vătămanu & Florin Tudor, and Andro Wekua.
Professor John Rajchman of Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology notes that “Today, 1989 is often seen as a key moment, when a whole series of new questions were posed to artist and art historians alike, as if an older Euro-American ‘world art history’ were giving rise to a new ‘global art history,’ yet to be written, still in the making. Ceren Erdem turns this idea into a critical curatorial proposition. Presenting the work of a set of young artists, working in different media, each growing up after 1989, she creates a space of overlapping questions of self, memory, fiction and history.”
The works on view use a variety of strategies and media—video, photography, collage, books, and sculpture—to examine and question the role of individual memory in the shaping and telling of the history of the past present, and future. Especially exciting is the residency of Sophia Tabatadze who will create an installation specifically for this exhibition, and an opening performance by Vartan Avakian, a member of the artists’ collective Atfal Ahdath.
Cross-Time Stories is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue published by the Wallach Art Gallery and written by Ceren Erdem. 22 color illustrations represent the work of each artist included in the exhibition.