Inke Arns on Sun, 2 Jun 96 13:50 MDT

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nettime: TRANSNACIONALA / Irwin / NSK

Received by (May 1996) 

A Journey from the East to the West initiated by Irwin

Irwin and Eda Cufer, together with some guests artists and curators from the 
USA and Russia (Alexander Brener, Goran  -or-evia, Vadim Fishkin, Mary Jane 
Mark Pauline, Yuri Liederman, Viktor Misiano), will in July 1996 make a 
one-month journey from Atlanta to the West Coast of the United States in two 
equipped vans.
In the course of this journey they will organize about five events in 
different parts of the USA (Atlanta, Richmond, Chicago, San Francisco, 
Seattle). The Transnacionala project will focus on communication among 
entities from different cultural, social and political backgrounds. These 
events will be in the form of one- or two-day shows, discussions, lectures, 
screenings, etc., at various locations:, private houses, galleries, parking 
lofts... The topics of the discussions will be prepared in advance.
During the trip reports including the most important parts of the events and 
discussions will be sent through a computer link to the location of the 
"Conversations" project in Atlanta and video letters will also be sent to 
"Manifesta" in Rotterdam. 

You can follow the journey on: (from June 15)

First letter
by Eda Cufer

The TRANSNATIONALA project will take place in the form of a journey. A group 
of artists from the United  States of America, Russia and Slovenia will 
spend a month travelling together across the USA, making stops at five 
American cities (Atlanta, Richmond, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle) in 
which various artistic events (artistic actions, lectures, discussions, 
presentations) will be organized in collaboration with the artistic 
communities of each city.

The initiative for the project came from  the Slovenian IRWIN/NSK artistic 
collective (its conceptual  framework and current fields of research will be 
presented in a booklet available at the time of the journey). It is closely 
connected with their experiences in a previous artistic event -- the  APT 
ART (Apartment Art) project, which took place in May and June of 1992 in 
Moscow. This project was organized by a group of Russian artists, curators, 
and intellectuals in order to reflect and re-evaluate the social model of 
their artistic practices -- which in the time of Soviet ideological 
repression were hidden behind the walls of private apartments but which, 
with the beginning of perestroika, gained international recognition and 
large public attention overnight. The IRWIN/NSK collective participated in 
this project with an event called the NSK EMBASSY MOSCOW, which took place 
in a private apartment. Some of the content and results of their one-month 
of living, exhibiting, performing, and organizaing lectures and discussions 
in Moscow are documented in the NSK EMBASSY MOSCOW edition subtitled How the 
East sees the East. The most important results of this project, however, are 
the continuity of personal relations, artistic interactions and the 
continuing mutual support  in developing  specific individual/collective 
social models of art production and a system of values in the context of 
changing Eastern societies.

A wider aim of TRANSNATIONALA is therefore to research the potential models 
of interaction among different artistic communities by travelling with some 
American artists and visiting various American art communities. 

Of course, one cannot avoid the simple macropolitical contextualisation and 
interpretation of the TRANSNATIONALA project as a meeting and confrontation 
of the two myths (the USA and Russia) of our recent history, in which 
Slovenia plays the role of a m or, hardly known actor in the westernmost 
part of the Eastern territory on the planetary geostrategic map. Such a 
superficial view conceals many difficulties of communication among 
individuals from different and distant cultural and political spheres. As 
our perceptions of distant worlds are marked by many culturally and 
politically produced presumptions and limitations, the objectives of the 
TRANSNATIONALA project should be developed and analyzed step by step.  A 
very practical aspect of communication difficulties is that, regardless of 
an individual's efforts to surpass  national contexts and notions in his or 
her artistic or humanistic practice, he or she will still have to use 
national notions and signs to inform others from different national or 
cultural spheres who he/she is, where he/she is coming from and which 
cultural and political reality has defined his/her work through his/her 
corporal existence in a certain territory on the earth. Inside national 
borders we act as individuals or groups with individual character. We are in 
a critical, analytical if not subversive, relation to society and state 
politics -- we represent and defend our individual borders. When we 
represent our works abroad, however, we automatically identify ourselves in 
universally understandable categories -- we represent our national and state 
borders. This gap in decontextualisation which annihilates the corporeality 
of social experiences as a real background of any universal art or 
intellectual work is highly abused today by the structure of the existing 
art and intellectual  systems and markets as well as by the institutional 
distribution of universal values. 

One of the reasons for the journey across the United States is also liked 
with the need to analyze and demysticize our culturally-produced 
preconceptions of America. From the Eastern (or perhaps any other) point of 
view American culture represents the center of the world power structure and 
the dominant culture of Western civilisation, which has been and still is 
the crucial identification point for the East. Living with the myth of the 
West, we in the East probably have many distorted perceptions of the real 
rhythms, colors and qualities of life in the "center". For us,  this journey 
therefore represents an opportunity to gain a more subjective experience of 
American culture. And finally, America is a large urban territory with great 
intersocial complexity corresponding to the universal complexity of the 
world as a whole. And this is perhaps our main reason for meeting and 
confronting American art communities: to learn about their own reflections 
and experiences of their inner complexity and to exchange views on the 
particular and global complexities of  today's world -- from the point of 
view of defined artistic and intellectual positions, of course.

We believe that a journey with one-month direct, intimate communication 
among individuals and groups from three different cultural spheres -- 
without any central intermediation of state institutions (galleries, 
museums, festivals, universities) -- is a
convenient model for researching and analyzing the common symptoms that 
define the experience of critical individual and group positions (however 
different they might look when observing concrete artefacts or discourses) 
in relation to their particular societies and society as a whole.

Eda Cufer

Time Table

location: "The Castle"
Mary Jane Jacob and Arts Festival of Atlanta
(a 19 century house near AT&T and  High Museum of Atlanta)
June 28 opening of the Irwin exhibition

June 30 / July 2
Location: "The Castle"
Introduction of the participants of TRANSCENTRALA, Introduction of the 
project, discussions, lectures, screenings
Contact address:
Arts Festival of Atlanta (att. Mary Jane Jacob)
140 First Plaza Atlanta GA  30309 phone 404 885 1125 fax: 404 876 1791

Journey to Richmond (Virginia)
July 3 / July 4
Through :
On the way private and public conversations

July 5 / July 6
Location: An old  plantation from the end of 17 century 
Host: Catherine Gates (Gates of Heck's)
discussions, lectures, screenings, party
Contact address:
Katharine Gates Gates of Heck, Inc. P.O. Box 15296
Richmond, VA  23227 USA
Voice/fax:  (804) 266-9422
Web Page:

Journey to Chicago (Illinois)
July 7 / July 8
Through :
On the way private and public conversations

July 9 / July 10
Location: Different locations in the City
Host: Randy Alexander  and Mary Jane Jacob
discussions, lectures, screenings

Journey to San Francisco:
July 11 / July 22
Kansas City
Flag Staff
Las Vegas

July 22 / July 23
Location: location suggested by SRL (or some RW park)
Host: open
discussions, lectures, screenings

Journey to Seattle
July 24 / July 25
Crescent City
contact address:

July 26 / July 28
Location: Rented private house
Host: Charles Craft, Larry Reed, Robin Held, COCA and other cultural 
institutions from the City
discussions, lectures, screenings, reception
contact adress: 
Charles Kraft: 
phone: +1 206 860 51 93

Inke Arns * Pestalozzistr. 5 * D-10625 Berlin * Germany
Tel / Fax + 49 - 30 - 313 66 78 *
upcoming (Nov.):
discord. sabotage of realities. <>

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