Not that homogeneous

Reflecting regions and residencies

Christiane Erharter, Dora Hegyi, Judit Angel, Heide Wihrheim, Michaela Geboltsberger (f. l. t. r.) / photo: Christian Wind

The international network tranzit with venues in Austria, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia has been promoting contemporary art since its founding in 2002.

In a cooperative venture with the ERSTE Foundation, the curator collective is organizing the international group exhibition “Stopover – Ways of Temporary Exchange” at MuseumsQuartier on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the collective residence program in Vienna. Judit Angel of in Bratislava and Dora Hegyi of in Budapest, two of the five curators, tell of the significance of cultural exchange for their work.

Dora Hegyi and Judit Angel, what was your approach to curating the show in Vienna?
Dora Hegyi: It’s important for us to discuss what short-term residencies – so-called artist-in-residence-programs – mean for artistic production nowadays, and particularly what those in Vienna mean for this region. We’re interested in that not least because of the city’s history as a cultural center.
Judit Angel: The relation to the former Empire has made us reflect on different kinds of imperialism with works that embrace both the period before 1989 and the transition period.

The exhibition celebrates 15 years of tranzit residencies. Is this a retrospective?
Judit Angel: It’s more of a statement in favor of the practice of residency, of the idea of cultural exchange and mobility. The artists address issues with their own backgrounds but are also receptive to what happens here. And of course there are global issues which matter to all of us, such as ecology, migration, and economic political crises. The exhibition embraces various local issues against the background of general issues that affect the entire humanity today.

What is the significance of a network like tranzit in light of the possibilities for global connection and cultural exchange created by digital technologies?
Dora Hegyi: The world isn’t as globalized and Eastern Europe not as homogeneous after all. All places have different backgrounds, which are difficult to follow from afar. The thing with tranzit is that all branches work autonomously. They can react to individual issues of relevance and address site-specific discourses independent from local art scenes. In Hungary we have increasingly faced a political situation since 2010 in which all progressive cultural institutions are restricted or lose support. tranzit has played an important role as a space for reflection.

Text by Daniela Fasching:

Daniela Fasching studied English and art history in Vienna and London (Royal Holloway). She works in Vienna in the fields of museum education (Kunsthalle Wien) and science communication (ACDH).

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