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Culturelink review, no.43/August 2004 - contents - imprint - archive

Various Reflections on Contemporary Arts and Culture

In this Culturelink review Dossier, we decided to publish three articles that are all approaching the field of the arts and culture from different angles, and while they might not seem to have too many things in common, after careful reading one notices that all the authors are concerned with similar problems. The problems stem from the fact that the development of contemporary societies require new types of discourse and analysis of the world of arts and culture.

In her article on Postmodernism in Eastern Europe Mateja Herak writes about art in Eastern Europe in the context of post-second world war political and ideological specificities, pointing to the fact that even though the postmodernist tendencies were present in this region, it did not imply a simple transposition of the values of what she calls "the First World". She points in particular to some movements such as the "Neue Slowenische Kunst" (NSK) or "soc-art" in the former Soviet Union as the most representative examples of postmodern tendencies in Eastern European art. The NSK was a rare example of different sorts of arts being activated at the same time: music, theatre, plastic arts, film, television, design, theory, and even clothes. Its activity was of great importance for the productions in Slovenia, the ex-Yugoslav countries, and elsewhere in the world.

While Mateja Herak analyses some modern tendencies that still belong to the past, Matko Meštrović turns his attention to the most contemporary trends which are, like the postmodern tendencies in the second half of the twentieth century, which fundamentally changed the traditional frameworks for understanding and analysing culture. More specifically, Meštrović writes about the "economisation" of culture and/or the "culturalisation" of the economy, thus contributing to the contemporary debates about the role of culture in today's economy and overall development.

As the third article in this Dossier, we decided to publish Alberta Arthurs's contribution for the Stockholm +5 Expert Meeting on Cultural Polices for Development held in Stockholm in May 2003. Unlike Meštrović, who is looking at the term culture in its broadest sense, Arthurs reduces it to the "arts", namely, the visual and performing arts, and from that angle examines the contemporary discourses around the theme of culture and diversity through the lens of the United States. Two seemingly contrary tendencies - the arts as a mask for diversity, the arts as a marker for diversity - play together quite compatibly. In the modern world, we need the sanctity, the stability, sameness of a "mask", of the nation or the region, the movement, the belief system, tradition or heritage, whatever containers we create to protect ourselves in a difficult world. But we also need the challenge, the provocativeness, the particularities, the markers of our differences, of our unlikenesses. In her article, Arthurs calls for a better distribution and exchange of arts and highlights the role of UNESCO that could encourage such circulation on the international level.

We would like to take this opportunity to invite our members interested in publishing their texts in the Culturelink review Dossier to send us their contributions. While the Dossier usually focuses on some particular topic, we are also pleased whenever we can publish our members' research work and articles.


  • Postmodernism in Eastern Europe
    by Mateja Herak
  • The 'economisation' of culture and/or the 'culturalisation' of the economy: What are we talking about?
    by Matko Meštrović
  • On Culture and Diversity
    by Alberta Arthurs