[oberlist] oddnwsltr #76 _ ODD THEORY #25 _ Red New Age

ODD info at oddweb.org
Thu Oct 10 11:20:31 CEST 2019

Red New Age
Janek Simon
After the introduction of the Martial Law in Poland in 1981, the communist party completely lost its moral legitimacy. Nobody believed in communist ideology anymore. On the other hand, because of the economic crisis of the late 70’s and early 80’s and events that resulted from it – like the functional collapse of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance –, it was difficult to imagine western consumption capitalism to ever be introduced in the country. It was difficult to buy toilet paper and people had to queue to buy sugar. That led to the creation of an ideological vacuum, that was eventually filled with an amalgam of ideas, ranging from Eastern spiritual systems, Catholic church and a distorted view of modernisation that came with the introduction of the new media – VHS, satellite TV and personal computers. 

Janek Simon had been researching this period in Poland for some time, focusing on the introduction of personal computers into everyday life and Red New Age – the appropriation of Eastern spirituality in communist Poland. During his 3-week stay in Bucharest he is working on mapping similarities and differences in that aspects of history between Poland and Romania.

For his talk, he will present the findings of this research, as well as give an overview of his practice catalyzed by curiosity and travels.

Janek Simon (born 1977) is a conceptual artist and an occasional curator based in Warsaw. His main source of inspiration is curiosity. On a more concrete level he is inspired by travel, history of science and political ideas, and the practice and ethics of the DIY culture, always filtering the theories through his personal experience though. In recent years he developed a body of work investigating notions of distance and difference between places, working on projects that try to remap semi-peripherial position of Eastern Europe through geographical experiments. His works was shown, among others, at Manifesta 7, Liverpool Biennale, Prague Biennale, and numerous solo shows in major public art institutions in Poland and elsewhere (Arnolfini Bristol, Casino Luxembourg, Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw and others).

ODD THEORY <https://oddweb.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=5c8fa24225389d3209bc8a496&id=ea15f95f47&e=2ca14297a6> has been since the beginning an attempt to understand as well as to reconfigure, with the delicate means afforded by a small-scale initiative, the Romanian imaginary. It functioned as a learning and sharing tool, and in the current configuration succeeded in its initial bet of bringing together a community of curious and courageous people. The small following overlapped ODD’s general following, but also managed to stand out as a work group of hybrid practitioners, one that is slowly developing common tools and initiatives.

In working with a collective imaginary, regardless of the scale of that collective, one has to face the challenge of the poor political imagination characterizing the contemporary world. Romania is, in that respect, eternally blocked in binaries which do not serve its citizens. The misery of catching up conflates with extremely narrow local politics, producing a public sphere in which important issues marking the world are never properly discussed. In that respect, ODD THEORY makes a point in choosing speakers who can deliver presentations and workshops on subjects that remain poorly known and understood on the local scene, topics which overlap and create a series of mind-opening mirrorings.

ODD THEORY is curated by Cristina Bogdan. 

A space for theoretical discussion and social gatherings of all kinds, ODD welcomes to Bucharest artists, writers, critics, philosophers, performers, scientists, activists. Through residencies and informal events such as discussions, workshops, reading groups, performances, ODD provides for a combination of intimacy and playfulness, dialogue and resistance, from which to act upon the world.
Project co-funded by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. The project does not necessarily represent the position of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN is not to be held responsible for the content of the project, nor for the ways in which the results of the project might be used. Those are entirely the responsibility of the beneficiary of the grant.

With the support of The Polish Institute in Bucharest - Instytut Polski w Bukareszcie.

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