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Title: The remaking of the Balkans in contemporary art exhibitions : a critical view
Author: Avgita, Louisa
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 5679
Awarding Body: City University London
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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In this thesis, I discuss critically contemporary visual art exhibitions that have addressed the Balkans as a structure of representation. These exhibitions, fourteen in number, have been organised by international and local curators in Western and Central European cities and in the Balkan region between 1999 and 2006. I consider these exhibitions as ideological mechanisms which in their effects formulate Balkan "otherness", and sustain neoIiberal policies and market cultural particularities. Curatorial discourses are examined in relation to critiques of stereotypical representations of the Balkans, systematised in the discourse of Balkanism. The critique of Balkanism was elaborated in the 1990s and 2000s by theorists notably Maria Todorova and draw a distinction to Edward Said's notion of Orientalism. I adopt two methodological axes to provide the basis for my analysis of the exhibitions. The first axis addresses the Balkans as a concept which reflects the immaterial character of Western domination in the region; the second defines Balkan particularity in opposition to the universaIism of humanism and Marxism. These provide the critical basis for the analysis of "the Balkans" as a concept that systematises Balkan ambiguity as cultural particularity disregarding the materiality of the capitalist structures in which it has been formulated as yet another cultural product. In the exhibitions, the imaginary, immaterial character of the Balkans is manifested in the particularity of Balkan ambiguity and in concepts such as Balkan in-betweenness, heterotopia, invention, becoming, utopia and glocalism, all used in different ways to undermine the often rigid and authoritative universalist assumptions. In my view, the curatorial representations of the Balkans far from disputing Balkan stereotypes serve to typify Balkan particularity which is constructed as a brand name, and by so-doing naturalise the ideology of the universality of globalised capitalism which I understand as "false consciousness" and "cynical reason". Drawing upon Slavoj Zizek's idea of "parallax view", I contend that the Balkan stereotypical representations can only be contested if we change perspectives, engage with the universality of the "part of no-part" or class struggle and, therefore, question the very logic of capitalism which sustains the concept of the Balkans.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available