Transitland is a collaborative archiving project initiated on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Its main outcome is a selection of 100 single-channel video works, produced in the period 1989-2009 and reflecting the transformations in post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe. Transitland is not only the widest-spanning presentation of video art from Central and Eastern Europe but also a unique attempt to address and reflect upon an extensive period of transformation and changes. The mere breadth of time and geography, and the complexity of the transition process, are still beyond perception not only from outside but also from within the region. Besides the numerous discursive and documentary attempts to describe, analyze and contextualize transition, we do believe that multitude viewpoints and aspects, presented through the media of video art, will provide a unique understanding of aesthetic and critical positions to the current discourse on the transition period.
The project focuses on an extensive and turbulent time. Transitland is quite close to being half of Europe – both population and territory wise. Once called the “Eastern Bloc”, it was conceived as somewhat the homogeneous, dark side of Europe behind the Iron Curtain. Central and Eastern Europe with different sub-regions now covers 24 post-socialist European countries. Twenty years ago this territory belonged to only nine states.
Being interested to include diverse perspectives and views on what works should be considered for such an archive, we addressed curators, art critics and artists. Thanks to the engaged involvement of 40 invited individuals, our nominators, we were able to obtain more than 350 works for viewing by the project jury.
The final selection was made by an international jury with members: Edit Andr?s (art historian and art critic, Research Institute for Art History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest) Dunja Blazevic (director of Center of Contemporary Art, Sarajevo), Olga Shishko (director of MediaForum, Moscow), Stephen Kovats (director of transmediale festival for art and digital culture, Berlin) and Kathy Rae Huffman (independent curator, currently living in Berlin).
This archive of 100 works is “capsulated” in so-called video jukeboxes, which are browsable and will be available for research and individual viewing. These are hosted by cultural institutions in Sofia, Berlin and Budapest and their location can be checked at the website of the project. The archive is presented in the hometowns of the project co-organizers in a series of screening programmes and discursive events in 2009 and is scheduled to be toured to further locations in 2010.
A reader with essays, edited by Edit Andras, offers an in-depth comment on the topics present in the archive and on the development of media they occupy.