A cultural exchange initiative engaging a broad network of civic institutions in the former Eastern Bloc and beyond


Reading Central and Eastern Europe

A seminar and reading group series exploring the aesthetics and politics of the post-socialist condition

Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Curatorial practice
  • Pedagogy

Organizing Institutions


Contributing Institutions

The Print Center, Tyler School of Art and Architecture, University of Delaware

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to convene the first public phase of On the Other Side of Elsewhere, a long-term academic and exhibition-based program engaging art and politics of Central and Eastern Europe. Based at Slought with additional institutional support from the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, the University of Delaware, and The Print Center, On the Other Side of Elsewhere assumes the form of a long-term cultural exchange initiative, and aligns several universities and institutions in the greater Philadelphia region with a broad network of arts- and civic institutions across the former Eastern Bloc and beyond.

The first public phase of the project commences this fall with On the Other Side of Elsewhere: Reading Central and Eastern Europe—a series of seminars, reading sessions, and workshops that will introduce and expand the themes of the project in anticipation of its next phases, to begin in 2020. Led by project co-director James Merle Thomas (Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University), a graduate seminar will examine how artistic, art historical, and curatorial modes of production have evolved since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as the region has transitioned through various modes of neoliberal, democratic, and post-democratic governance.

Supporting this seminar is a reading group, which will meet periodically throughout the fall and winter to discuss a number of texts which further explore the aesthetics and politics of the post-socialist condition. In this reading group, we will consider how the themes of art, history, governance, civil society, (auto)ethnography, self-colonization, migration, and post-democracy inform the overall project. Topics and excerpts will be drawn from a growing body of literature and scholarship that engages the greater Central and Eastern Europe region, and more broadly, considers how these topics are relevant to questions of institutionality and intellectual production throughout our current locales. The reading group will additionally focus on the topics of exhibition-making and curatorial practice, modes of collectivity and collaboration, and the role of archives in structuring history. These and other themes form the core conceptual framework from a recently published anthology, Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe (The Museum of Modern Art, 2018, eds. Ana Janevski, Roxana Marcoci, and Ksenia Nouril), which will inform the sessions.

read more

Reading Group Schedule

The first confirmed reading group sessions will focus on selections from Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe (listed below as "MoMA CEE") and will periodically feature an additional text.

PDFs will be made available via email upon request:

Friday, September 27, 1:30–3:30pm
"Reckoning with History" and "Exhibiting the 'East' since 1989" (MoMA CEE, pp. 19–124)

Friday, October 18, 1:30–3:30pm
"After the Fall: Democracy and Its Discontents" and "Maintaining the Social in Postsocialism: Activist Practices and Forms of Collectivity" (MoMA CEE, pp. 176–269)
Alexander Kiossev, "The Self-Colonizing Metaphor"

Friday, November 1, 1:30–3:30pm
"In a Global World" (MoMA CEE, pp. 339-390)

Friday, November 15, 1:30–3:30pm
Ivan Krastev, After Europe, 2017

Discussions are open to the public and will be jointly facilitated by those in attendance. Confirmed facilitators include Aaron Levy, Ksenia Nouril, James Merle Thomas, and Ivanco Talevski, with additional participants to be named in the coming weeks.

Additional meetings will be held as the project enters its exhibition phase in Spring 2020.

"Europe is divided not only between Left and Right, north and south, large and small states, and those who want more Europe and those who want less (or no Europe at all) but also between those who have experienced disintegration firsthand and those who know it only from textbooks.

This is the split separating people who endured firsthand the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the once powerful communist bloc and those Westerners who emerged unscathed by any those traumatic events."

-- Ivan Krastev, After Europe, 2017