Over the Counter

The Phenomena of Post-socialist Economy in Contemporary Art


“We know that art is not an ideal of beauty that is outside the rule of social law, but amanifestation of life that is determined by the other forces of the age, and derives from, as well as acts upon, our everyday lives. The social and political crises of the age have consequently never been independent from the crises art has experienced. There is,however, a short delay between the two.” (LAJOS KASSÁK: A KORSZERŰ MŰVÉSZET ÉL, 1925)

The exhibition called Over the Counter has been inspired by the economic illusions, utopias, creativity and frustration that Central Europe has been home to recently, and ismade relevant by the global economic crisis which began in 2008, and which can be looked upon as a negative critique of the process of adopting the capitalist order. The title of the exhibition refers to different work progresses going on in the service sector, and beyond this to the position of artists in the production. Eitherwe take the „effective” evasion of certain rules, or the crossings of different economical processes, we find the product on the counter, and this is the very thing to which we can relate. The English version of the title stands for a quasi informal or directmarket that avoids stockmarket. Also it canmean non-prescriptionmedicine – in the case of the exhibition we would like to state the flexibility of economical processes and the existence of an out-of-control but operable mechanism. The exhibit offers an opportunity to look for artistic practices that thematize such social conditions that result from the economic changes of the past few decades, or bear testimony to outlooks that root in artistic attitudes towards these changes.

In 1989 the socialist countries entered what came to be called the transition period. Politically, itmeant the adoption of democratic institutions, while economically it was a transition from socialism to market economy, the institutions of a neoliberal capitalist system. Currently, the post-socialist countries are experiencing a double crisis: one the one hand, the transitionalmodel envisaged twenty years ago seems to be unsuccessful, and on the other, the region has still not reached the level of western modernity. The idea of communism can be considered a radical version ofmodernism,whichmay have failed but still presents a cultural and social challenge when it comes to reinterpreting, reforming or replacing the institutional and behavioural ideals it proposed. Art, a branch of the entertainment industry, is put into a difficult position by the current crisis as the new investment interests havemade it something of a luxury article.

The exhibition features artist, fenomenons, problems fromall over the region, from the Czech Republic to Armenia, fromLithuania to the former Yugoslavia, artists who redraw the political map of Eastern Europe: these are not the eastern outposts of the European Union, but a territory where survival and prosperity do not follow the westernmodels, but was predestinated to go on a different way.
2010. June 18. - September 19.

Kunsthalle, Budapest

2010. May 22. - August 29.
Previous exhibition

Gyula Várnai: The Same Stream

2010. September 15. - October 24.
Next exhibition