Seminar: Translocal Express. Golden Age. March 26-27

26, 27 March 2009


The current seminar, which brings together artists, art historians and philosophers from Eastern Europe, as well as from the West, is subtitled Golden Age. Although the term originates in classical mythology and indicates a prehistoric period of peace and prosperity, in the context of contemporary national history writing the golden age might instead be seen as a successfully implemented nation-state in the recent past which has been miserably lost or has suffered heavily. In a golden age, two contradictory characteristics meet: an extremely successful and glorious period in the history of a nation, and its decline and demolition. In the collective consciousness of a nation, the first characteristic is accompanied by a nostalgic longing for the good old days, and the latter with collective frustration and sorrow. So the dominant discourse of national history in some former Soviet states idealizes the era between the two world wars, some refer back to imperial times, and some commemorate and celebrate the victory over fascism.

There is one more significant aspect that accompanies a golden age – the story of a destroyed state or national suffering is often instrumentalized as a self-evident argument in the service of contemporary nationalism. The ideology producing a national identity has set the unfair loss of a historical period as an aim and example, and the traumas lived through by the nation have been used as a justification for re-establishing nostalgic ideals. The era idealized in national history writing frames the main mechanisms of reproducing nationalism: defining, fixing and conserving national values, promoting a traditional life-style and culture, and supporting conservative policies toward family, religion and foreigners.

How does an artist deal with the contradictory narratives of history and with the problems of collective memory (or amnesia)? How is the past politicized for the sake of the present day? How is it possible to commemorate and forget the common past in the public space? These are just a few questions to be discussed during the upcoming seminar.

Speakers: Eva Fotiadi (Amsterdam), Siobhan Kattago (Tallinn) Martin Krenn (Vienna), Kamil Malinowski (Warsaw), Kristina Norman (Tallinn), Alexei Penzin (Moscow) and Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans (Leuven).

Speakers’ bios

The seminar language is English.

Please register at info(at)

Translocal Express. Golden Age has been kindly supported by the Estonian Cultural Endowment, and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Tallinn.

Rael Artel

Public Preparation


Maria-Kristiina Soomre

Kumu Art Museum