Cross-Time Stories

May 9–June 9, 2012

Participating artists and collectives: Atfal Ahdath, Cao Fei, Cevdet Erek, Alicja Karska & Alexsandra Went, Alexandra Lerman, Alban Muja, Ahmet Öğüt, Sun Xun, Sophia Tabatadze, Rayyane Tabet, Mona Vătămanu & Florin Tudor, and Andro Wekua

Cross-Time Stories offers a provocative exploration of post-1989 history with work by a young generation of artists from three major "blocs"—Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, China, and the Middle East. The tensions of the Cold War era in the '80s and the critical breaking point of 1989 and its aftermath are a history shared by each of the artists in the exhibition. The works on view focus on their individual memories and how these shape their understanding of contemporary life.

The artists in Cross-Time Stories speak and expound on their memories of the past, addressing different regimes, heroes, mayhem and today's consumer culture. In many instances, their stories conflict with official historical narratives. The dichotomies of memory and post-memory, and of documentary and fiction, and the ways they figure in attempts to talk about social change or trauma, are among the key debates explored in the exhibition.

The works on view use a variety of strategies and media—video, photography, collage, books, and sculpture—to examine and question the role of individual memory in the shaping and telling of the past, present, and future. Especially exciting is the residency of Sophia Tabatadze who will create an installation specifically for this exhibition, and an opening performance by Vartan Avakian, a member of the artists' collective Atfal Ahdath.

Cross-Time Stories is curated by Ceren Erdem, The project was conceived and developed as a graduate thesis for the MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies (MODA) program in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University.

Professor John Rajchman of Columbia University's Department of Art History and Archaeology notes that "Today, 1989 is often seen as a key moment, when a whole series of new questions were posed to artist and art historians alike, as if an older Euro-American 'world art history' were giving rise to a new 'global art history,' yet to be written, still in the making. Ceren Erdem turns this idea into a critical curatorial proposition. Presenting the work of a set of young artists, working in different media, each growing up after 1989, she creates a space of overlapping questions of self, memory, fiction and history."

Cross-Time Stories is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue published by the Wallach Art Gallery and written by Ceren Erdem. 22 color illustrations represent the work of each artist included in the exhibition.