New York, 12 November 2009 Press release

“1989: The End of History or the Beginning of the Future?

New York, November 13th 2009 – “1989 – the ‘annus mirabilis’ when people in Central and Eastern Europe, in their yearning for freedom, justice and democracy, tore down the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. Europe as a whole and the entire international system underwent fundamental changes: a new future began,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger yesterday evening at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, officially opening the exhibition 1989: The End of History or the Beginning of the Future? Video Art Comments on a Paradigm Shift, which had started on 2 November.

“The exhibition shows from an artistic angle what happened in our society twenty years ago and what has happened since. The focus on art reminds us of the decisive role played by many artists, writers and intellectuals during the changes of 1989, and earlier, which is even more important. To mention but a few: people like Vaclav Havel, György Konrad, and film director Andrzej Wajda. The artists had been able to express themselves only indirectly, through exhibitions, performances, concerts, films and literature, many of their thoughts and ideas were suppressed by the Communist regimes. In many cases art was the only way to speak the truth and to wake up the political opposition who were marginalised and persecuted, and who used art as a platform for protest, as an outlet, a window to reality,” the Foreign Minister went on.

The exhibition has been conceived as a video-based show featuring fifteen films by renowned international artists, with the choice of films being guided by the question of how artists, and particularly video artists, responded to the changes unleashed in 1989. The artists participating in the exhibition are Marina Abramovic, Josef Dabernig, Thomas Draschan, Harun Farocki with Andrej Ujica, Anna Jermolaeva, Johanna Kandl, Jonas Mekas, Csaba Nemes, Jakub Nepras, Marcel Odenbach, Marek Piwowski, Pushwagner, Joanna Rajkowska, Isa Rosenberger, Nedko Solakov, Miha Štrukelj and Magda Tothova.

The show was realised by the Austrian Cultural Forum and Kunsthalle Wien in conjunction with the Czech Centre, the Hungarian Cultural Centre and the Romanian Cultural Institute. The exhibition is curated by the Director of Kunsthalle Wien, Gerald Matt, and the Head of the Cultural Forum, Andreas Stadler.

The exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York will last until 24 November. Admission is free.

Federal Ministry for European and
International Affairs Press Department
Tel.: +43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550, 3739
Fax: +43 (0) 50 1159-213