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PPV #21: Commoning the Post-Socialist Ruins with Dimitra Gkitsa and Marko Ilić


5pm GMT. Masaryk Room, SSEES, 16 Taviton Street.

Lecture by Dimitra Gkitsa: Commoning the Post-Socialist Ruins. Response by Marko Ilić

Please note: This event will be held IRL (In Real Life). Hybrid online participation via Zoom will be enabled. Registration is required

What are the aesthetic and political articulations inscribed in the materiality of abandoned post-socialist sites? How can we common anew such spaces of contested histories? More crucially, what is to be done with the modern post-socialist ruins?

With the collapse of the communist regime what remained from the communist past – monuments, factories, unfinished housing buildings, memorials – were abandoned and decayed, as resembling an era that was left once and for all in the past. Here, abandonment is not something momentary that occurred in a specific temporal framework, but rather, an ongoing process, a modern ruin always in the making. While official sites of collective memory are articulated around pre-defined rhetorics, abandoned sites can become an active mode for negotiating the very process of decline and for understanding the transformation of public spaces in the post-socialist reality.

Drawing on the concept of the commons, the seminar will explore the aesthetic and political trajectories that are brought forward with artistic practices that re-inhabit and re-claim sites of modern ruination in the post-socialist space.

Dr Dimitra Gkitsa is a curator, cultural manager, and researcher based in London and Athens. She is currently the Alexander Nash Fellow at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)

Holding postgraduate degrees in Curating (Goldsmiths, UoL) and Cultural Management (Panteion University of Social & Political Sciences, Athens), she completed a PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London where she worked under the supervision of Dr Jean-Paul Martinon. Her doctoral research on curatorial collectives and forms of self-organised art initiatives in the Balkans was funded by the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation.

Dimitra’s curatorial practice and further research interests include issues concerning the production of normativity and public/common space, the relation between the personal and the political, memory and affect theories, collectivity and self-organisation in relation to contemporary art and curatorial practice, with a particular focus on the former East.

Marko Ilić is a Teaching Associate in Art History at Cambridge University. His new book, A Slow Burning Fire: The Rise of the New Art Practice in Yugoslavia, was published by the MIT Press in February 2021.


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