Philadelphia

“Beyond Belief”

Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania

In “Beyond Belief: Contemporary Art from East Central Europe,” curator Laura J. Hoptman mounted an exhibition that included artists from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, all while embracing the questionable premise that Eastern Europe is a heterogeneous region with “ephemeral” borders. Though one might agree that such countries as Poland, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria have little in common, apart from being located on the “belt” that separates Western Europe from Russia, they do not simply constitute a region “traditionally referred to as ‘East’ or ‘East Central’ Europe” (it’s also more than a little odd to omit not only former East Germany and Yugoslavia, but the Baltic Republics). As poet Czeslaw Milosz has convincingly argued, the Eastern bloc nations, many “created” after World War II, form a specific political entity: “all the countries that in

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