Events & Exhibitions  /   Events  /   The Art–Labour Relationship in Contemporary Art in Central and Eastern Europe, 1991–present

The Art–Labour Relationship in Contemporary Art in Central and Eastern Europe, 1991–present

In the poster: exposition view from Robertas Narkus solo show Träger, 2017, Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius. Picture: Robertas Narkus and Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius
  • Organized by

    Institute of Art Research, Vilnius Academy of Arts

  • Partner

    Sapieha Palace, Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius

  • Financed by

    Lithuanian Council for Culture and Research Council of Lithuania (LMTLT)

The conference focuses on radical changes and current developments in artists’ working practices and conceptions after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the restoration of democracy in Central and Eastern European countries. Eastern bloc countries, especially the former USSR members, rushed to embrace art practices and art histories they missed under the control and censorship of now-collapsed regimes. New art forms and strategies (performance, installation, public interventions, collaborative practices, media art) flourished, and conceptual acuity and organisational competencies grew in importance alongside professional artists’ skills, often even overshadowing them. The theme of labour – one of the most politicised and subordinated themes in visual arts in socialist countries – became again a subject for some artists who aimed to reflect the new economic, political, and social conditions of their practices. This self-awareness manifests itself both in new approaches to the subject of labour in works of art and in critical rethinking on the ways artists organise their work. 


Although the conference is dedicated to the art-labour relationship in Eastern and Central European contemporary art since the 1990s, such a focus extends beyond these temporal and geographical contexts: newly emerged forms and meanings of artistic labour encourage us to look for comparisons or theoretical influences in other economic, political, and cultural environments. The conference brings together researchers, PhD students, and artists to address questions of the art-labour relationship, its local and regional histories, as well as its futures, in a globalised world where rapidly developing AI technologies provide not only new tools but also challenges established preconceptions about creative labour. Lastly, this urges us to rethink the social role of the artist in a time of ever-deepening political, social, and ecological crises. 



  • Scientific Committee

    Caterina Preda (University of Bucharest)

    Edgaras Gerasimovičius (Vilnius Academy of Arts)

    Harry Weeks (Newcastle University)

    Katalin Krasznahorkai (Brandenburgische Gesellschaft für Kultur und Geschichte)

    Lina Michelkevičė (Vilnius Academy of Arts)

    Marquard Smith (University College London / Vilnius Academy of Arts)

    Pascal Gielen (University of Antwerp)

  • Organizational Committee

    Edgaras Gerasimovičius (Vilnius Academy of Arts)

    Lina Michelkevičė (Vilnius Academy of Arts)

    Aušra Trakšelytė (Vilnius Academy of Arts)

  • Extended team

    Copy editor: Alexandra Bondarev

    Designer: Vytautas Volbekas

    Communication: Aistė Račaitytė, Joana Vitkutė

    Technicians: Vsevolod Kovalevskij, Antoni Dombrovskij