WARSAW, POLAND — Zuzanna Ziolkowska — sitting at a Warsaw sidewalk café with her long dreadlocks wrapped in a colorful turquoise and orange scarf — said she first learned of her Jewish roots about a decade ago.

Her mother told her casually over lunch one afternoon that Ms. Ziolkowska’s father, with whom she has no contact, was Jewish. Though she was a bit shocked by the news — and her mother’s offhanded mention of it — she said even as a young girl she had been keenly interested and felt a connection to Jewish history and literature. Read more

SYDNEY — Few contemporary art museums can boast of having both a breathtaking view and a superb location in the heart of a city. But the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) here is doubly blessed.

First constructed for the Maritime Services Board in the 1950s with a faux 1930s façade, the museum is located in Circular Quay, in the heart of Sydney Harbor. “Its location has been central to its success,” said Elizabeth Fortescue, an art critic for the city’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. “And that will attract some people who think that contemporary art is not for them.” Read more

KIEV — The shutting down of an exhibition in Kiev last month became something of a performance art piece in its own right. The show, “Ukrainian Body,” which opened Feb. 7 at the Visual Culture Research Center at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, aimed to explore corporality in contemporary Ukrainian society. Alongside pieces like Oksana Briukhovetska’s picture book of the elderly and destitute in Kiev and a trident shield (the symbol of Ukraine) hand-carved by Vova Vorotniov were Sasha Kurmaz’s photographs of nude women, a few drawings of naked men by Anatoliy Byelov and a video installation by Mykola Ridnyi that looped contrasting images — one of a vagina and one of the Ukrainian Parliament — and asked viewers which image was more irritating. Read more


LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA — Borut Vogelnik had long been looking forward to the opening last week of the Muzej Sodobne Umetnosti Metelkova (Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova) in Ljubljana. “I would say that for Slovenia, this museum is going to be very important and of major value,” said Mr. Vogelnik, who with four colleagues is part of IRWIN, a Slovenian artistic collective that shares the museum’s focus on the role and relevance of contemporary art from Eastern Europe and Russia. Read more


(Originally published in IHT/New York Times on 5 August 2011)

The Yugoslav Army would have been hard pressed to find a more scenic spot to build a nuclear bunker.

Originally begun in the 1950s and completed in the late 1970s, the bunker — which cost over $4.6 billion — was intended to be used as a shelter for the Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito and 350 elites of the Yugoslav Army in case of a nuclear attack. Located an hour from Sarajevo, near the central Herzegovinian town of Konjic, the bunker is built into the green and lush hillside overlooking the tumbling Nevetra River and is surrounded by conifer peaks and valleys. Read more