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

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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

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(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

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(originally published in the IHT/New York Times on 9 July 2011)

BUDAPEST — It is a question that Attila Pocze has grown accustomed to being asked.“Why are our young artists not well known on the international scene? Why are we not there?” said Mr. Pocze, the founder and director of Vintage Galeria in Budapest.

Why contemporary art in Hungary does not have as strong an international reputation as neighbors like Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia is something of a mystery — even to the Budapest artists, curators, art historians and gallery owners who are involved in the scene. But they also say that things are changing, that local contemporary art is becoming more visible both on the international scene and in Budapest, where galleries are working together to raise awareness. Read more

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(this piece was originally published in the IHT/New York Times on 11 June 2011)

Guram Tsibakhashvili stooped down to pick up one of the several small brown cardboard boxes scattered across the floor of his Tbilisi studio. “This,” said Mr. Tsibakhashvili as he held up a box containing a round white plastic ball splattered with red paint, “is the future Museum of Contemporary Art.” Read more