There is a Crack in the Museum of History. Is That How the Future Gets in?

FORMER WEST Public Editorial Meeting and Conference

The program of the conference can be downloaded here
Information on works exhibited and screened during the conference can be downloaded here

Time: May 13-14, 2015
Venue: FUGA Budapest Center of Architecture, 1052 Budapest, Petőfi Sándor u. 5.


At the end of the Cold War, tired of the future and its betrayed promises, we embraced reality as it really is. Its name was the West, an ahistorical identity block, which became the final destination of any possible progress. To move in history meant now only to arrive where the West already was.
Utopia, long believed to have forever disappeared at the end of the Cold War, might still be alive? It abandoned history as the medium of its prospective realization and turned to memory in which the past has become a new “promised land,” where everything could have been different than it really was, and where there are no limits whatsoever to our imagination. Now the past, as a dimension of hope, appears charged with contingency. It is no wonder that in our fetishistic obsession with the past, in which the boundary between remembering and forgetting is increasingly blurring, also the historical revisionism thrives marvelously. What once was historical consciousness that guaranteed our orientation in the time-spaces of modernity has evaporated into a myriad of memory cultures that, like a fog, hang over the post-historical reality. Now, another past is possible. Is this because there is nothing we can do about our future, turned into an impassable realm of historical necessity?

The public editorial meeting and conference in Budapest explores the changing notions of history and memory, advancing the thesis that today debates around museums, monuments, memorials, re-enactments, revisionist historiography, and rivalry between such traumas as Trianon and the Holocaust, constitute a major political battleground in Hungary as well as internationally, aiming to control the imagination of the past instead of the future. In addition to theoretical statements on current local and international urgencies of memory politics, contributors discuss what role artistic practices and the institutions of art play in shaping memories.

The Budapest public editorial meeting and conference is realized as a collaboration between FORMER WEST editors Boris Buden, Maria Hlavajova, and Simon Sheikh and project manager Wietske Maas, and curators Dóra Hegyi, Zsuzsa László and project manager Zsóka Leposa.

Contributors: Edit András (art historian, critic, Budapest), Inke Arns (curator, author, Berlin/Dortmund), Boris Buden (writer, cultural critic, translator, Berlin), Tony Chakar (writer, architect, artist, Beirut), Jodi Dean (writer, researcher, Geneva/New York), Ferenc Gróf (artist, Paris), Daniel Lazare (writer political theorist, New York), József Mélyi (critic and art historian, Budapest), Rastko Močnik (sociologist, literary theorist, translator, and activist, Ljubljana), Vjeran Pavlakovic (historian, Rijeka), Andrew Ryder (writer and journalist, Budapest), Jonas Staal (artist, Rotterdam), G. M. Tamás (political philosopher and writer, Budapest), Andrea Tompa (theatre critic, writer, Budapest), Zsuzsanna Toronyi (museologist, Budapest), Jelena Vesić (independent curator, writer, Belgrade), Anna Wessely (art historian and sociologist, Budapest)

Artistic intervention in the lecture hall: Ferenc Gróf
In the framework of the event screening of films by Neïl Beloufa, Szabolcs KissPál, Dezső Magyar, Hajnal Németh, Milo Rau, tranzit. hu/Tehnica Schweiz

FORMER WEST: (2008–2016) is an extensive, long-term transnational contemporary art research, education, publishing, exhibition, and discursive project. It aims at developing a critical understanding of the legacy of the radical transnational citizen resistance to power in 1989, in order to both imaginatively reevaluate the present and speculate about the future.

Design by Mevis & Van Deursen

The program series War of Memories is part of the project FORMER WEST, Culminating Phase: Edits, Annotations, Proposals project supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

See more on the FORMER WEST website

Twelve to Make Peace

External Links
War of Memories - a guide to Hungarian memory politics

exhibition_and_screenings_-_.pdf (pdf, 108 kb)
Conference_Program.pdf (pdf, 208 kb)