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“Peripheral Histories” is a print and digital book exploring an alternative view of experimental film, video, and television art in Romania from the 1970s to 2020. The book narrates the sociocultural and cross-generational transformations and proposes new readings of media and history. It analyzes the prominent motifs in the works of some of the most renowned contemporary Romanian artists and groups thematic selections of representative artworks together.
Uncovering media histories
Much of the art criticism has focused on understanding the ‘periphery’ in spatial terms that often reinforce perceptions of (self-)marginalization and hierarchical modernism. But different readings are possible when analyzing how different functions, operations, and properties govern the technical medium. Art-centric accounts often generalize approaches around the technologies that inform artistic production and interpret artworks in terms of image technologies. Such interpretations based chiefly on image and representation tend to overlook the role of time, timing, time manipulation, or rhythm specific to film, video, and digital—which are primarily time technologies that contract and distribute temporal material. Two chapters, “1989 / Cameras and Revolution” and “1993 / The Year We Made Video,” analyze the changes brought by electronic communication and the significant changes in the sociopolitical and cultural fabric of the times. On the one hand, the Romanian revolution in 1989—a defining moment in television and media history with a mediatic counterpart in the Gulf War—is a symptomatic condition that triggers unique relations to television as media. On the other hand, the 1993 exhibition “Ex Oriente Lux”—an experimental event that remains the single major video art exhibition of its kind to this day—takes place at a time of informational boom and social transition among the ex-socialist Eastern countries. When society is memory, the significant changes in the dominant technologies affect the very condition of society. As such, ever-new media reflect on the ever-new forms of social memory that expand beyond the frameworks of machine memory. “Peripheral Histories” is a point of departure for analyzing how socialities have transformed in Romania over five decades—and an attempt to spark interest in an often disregarded fragment of media history that may serve to provide novel perspectives and understandings. “Peripheral Histories” launches November 2023 in print and digital and March 2024 in limited collectors edition