forth year: 2001/2002 series of lectures: lectures / conversations with lecturers / lecturers

course for curators of contemporary art: course participants / study excursions / program collaborators / exhibition / course participant's texts


Eurovision 2000 (Marion von Osten, Susanna Perin, Peter Spillmann)
EuroVision of the World Of Art*

EuroVision2000 is a temporary, open and supra-national network of video producers. It was created by three artists of the labor project k3000 media space in Zurich. The context of the project lies within the fact that the western alliances of the European community started intensifying the political issues on borders, migration and asylum seekers. EuroVision2000 was developed from the video exchange project MoneyNationsTV, which represents the first attempt of establishing an operating supranational media practice within a critical art context at the end of the nineties.

The project includes videos by: Mogniss H. Abdallah (Paris), Zeigam Azizov (London), Marion Baruch (Paris), Jochen Becker/Jesko Fezer (Berlin), Axel Claes/Tristan Wibault (Brussels), Colletivo Politico (Naples), Rita Canarezza (San Marino), Pier Paolo Coro (San Marino), Paola di Bello (Milan), Doc Video (Turin), Ethical Bros. (Catania), Micz Flor (Berlin), Lisa Haskel (London), Elke Marhöfer (Berlin), Lisa Moren (Baltimore), Sabrina Muzi (Bologna), Marion von Osten (Zurich/Berlin), Paper Tiger TV (New York), Toni Corti (Bologna), Susanna Perin (Zurich/Rome), Jenny Perlin (New York), Angelo Petronella (Bologna), Marco Poloni (Rome), Manuel Poutte (Brussels), Oliver Ressler (Vienna) , Jayce Salloum (Vancouver), Mark Saunders (London), Trebor Scholz (New York), Peter Spillmann (Zurich), Angie Waller (New York).


Blind stains

With the establishing of the project MoneyNations with the subtitle Constructing the boarder/constructing East/West in the Zurich Shedhalle in 1998 - from which the production network EuroVision2000 emerged later on - the debate on eurocentrism and post-colonialism has settled in also in the German speaking area. In the debate the specific North-South perspective was especially visible, however, this did not comprehend the situation in the post-communist states. In the press release of the MoneyNations one could read the following:

"Criticism of the Eurocentric mechanism of knowledge and power has multiplied since the 1990's, and this took place also in the German-speaking art and culture scene. In contrast to the North/South discussion, the relationship between East and West, due to its historical and political differences, is more contradictory and has rarely been the subject of scientific research. The political systems which were formerly enemies, whose Cold War propaganda machines permitted portrayal of the other side as an enemy without any qualification, are now national units defined by their level of westernisation and advancing capitalisation. Reporters for the Western media are still quite fond of the "Wild East", Mafia-like organisations, bankrupt national governments and other states of emergency. And while a united Europe shuts out the East through its laws concerning borders and foreigners, multinational corporations and investors have increasingly turned their attention to Central and South-eastern Europe as a source of extremely cheap labour. But on a cultural level attempts are being made to connect with a historical continuity of an Eastern and Western European identity. The expansion of the EU to Eastern Europe is inevitably accelerating this process, which is also shifting to the countries of Central Europe.

Traditionally, European identity has been formed in contrast to "others" such as the USA, Japan, Asia and the Middle East. This European identity was based in particular on the uniqueness of the region's cultural tradition with which the culture of the others was disparaged. Eastward expansion of the EU's border or its entry into NATO, which is at present being offered to Eastern European countries, is once more based on the exclusiveness of this "old" Europe and its Western centre, while the reality in the former East Bloc and the countries located in the southern hemisphere is being blocked out.
Culture has been given a central and extremely important role in the processes of exclusion. The fusion of nation-states into a "single Europe" has created new paradigms for a new identity of entire Europe and excludes those who do not live up to this paradigm of economic efficiency. Categorisations and claims of cultural difference are not only being expressed in the media; they are also becoming a part of exhibitions of Eastern European art, such as in the construction of authenticity (Sammlung Ludwig) and claims of a new internationalism (Manifesta), which block out the political border productions of Fortress Europe and the role of Eastern Europe as the global standard for low wages."

Today, three years later, nothing much has really changed from the above stated distrusts. Central and Eastern European artists are often a part of the Western art system merely with the purpose of confirming the stereotype expectations and add their mark of exoticness, or serve as a sign of economic and political compatibility with the West. With exhibitions such as After The Wall which took place in Sweden and Germany the current gaps in the knowledge of the western artists were filled. The title After The Wall stylises the fall of the Berlin wall 1989 as that historical event, which in general describes the opening of the East. The Solidarnocz movement, perestroika or the specific situation in Yugoslavia before 1989 were extinguished due to better recognition. Friendly hugs from After The Wall are once more writing history from the Western perspective and are preaching openness at the same time that the closure of the boarders with the Schengen agreement is restricting physical entry into the European Union. Instead of dealing with the contradictory development of Eastern and South-eastern European countries and the issues, which are questioned by the (cultural) left wing of Western Europe, the main concern of the European Union is its external appearance. It is not the least surprising that the artists are still judged by their western "appropriateness", or that the curators, who wish to take a critical stance - expect a certain measure of critical involvement because of the political and social situation of the post-communist countries which they look upon from the world point of view as a constant exception, as it was shown in, for instance, the last Manifesta project.

We can justifiably doubt that the stage of artistic shows, exhibitions, biennials and documentas is appropriate for the establishment of "cultural diversities" and bringing down the myth of the western domination. A much more appropriate draft of social, cultural and intellectual links outside the European fortress is represented by network activism, which was started through internet mailing lists such as Syndicate and Nettime. These are important due to their supra-national organisation and the broadening of the categorical perception of art with the notion of a cultural worker. Information on the aforementioned lists diverge between theory, politics and culture. Various authors intentionally claim the right to expressing themselves in all fields. At first Shedhalle Zurich, as an artistic association, did not share the dynamics of network activism, yet from 1994 it is establishing the social - political culture of exhibition projects, the initiators of which are not curators, but artists themselves and this is based on their changed positions. In such an environment the MoneyNations project was started, which is in opposition to the usual presentations of the independent position of the artist in the western world and has developed into a long-term planned production network as planned by Marion von Osten and Natalie Seitz. For over two years the project is joined by numerous theoretically, politically and culturally active protagonists from Central, Central - eastern and South - eastern Europe.


Call for contribution

Alongside the exhibition and the conference in Shedhalle Zurich a part of the MoneyNations1 project proved to be a very efficient communication strategy: MoneyNationsTV. As a network of producers MoneyNationsTV tries to transform the communication from the digital space of e-mails once more into the analogue space, one could say from text into visuality, from the screen into the social environment of the home or alternative cinema. In a period of six months various locally distributed producers, so called corespondents, exchanged information and reflections in a video format. Finally, this became a series of various video productions, which was distributed amongst all participants and served as a basis for the debates at the events and was shown within the frame of film programmes in various Eastern and Western European contexts. In 1999 three representatives of the MoneyNations network (Rachel Mader, Peter Spillmann and Marion von Osten) were guests at the workshop organised by Milos Vojtechovsky in Plasy in the Czech Republic. The workshop entitled Panthograph and the participants from Croatia, Bulgaria, Austria, Czech Republic, USA and Switzerland marked a breaking point in the MoneyNationsTV project, for a possibility to broaden the formal connections into a collective, non-institutionalised way of work occurred.

With the invitation to Cafe9 Mediaspace in Prague (extended by Jennifer de Felice) a possibility also occurred for broadening the MoneyNationsTV network to the entire territory of the European Union and this enabled a new analysis of the issues, not only as regards the inclusion and exclusion in connection to state boarders, but also as regards the everyday racism within and outside the European Union boarders.
An important difference between projects such as Eurovison2000 and the normal curator video archives and networks can be found in the open participatory character of the EuroVision2000 project. In opposition to the accessibility of projects such as Manifesta 2000 in Ljubljana, where the themes of the sent works were given within the frame of the defined curators concept of theoretical reflections, which were at the end also judged and selected, the contents of the EuroVision2000 proved its merit also through local participants and sent in video works by themselves. With the exception of two video works, which had nothing in common with the contents of EuroVision2000 and were more or less formally - aesthetic productions none of the received works were rejected.
In the 1990's the principle of free participation was used at numerous independently managed projects, as an anti-model of curator, exhibition and organisationally determined processes. In an environment of such collective practices it is possible to renounce the usual strictly defined roles of the artist, curator or theoretician and thus take various content, structural or creative parts, depending on the project or interest. Therefore EuroVision2000 did not emerge with a curatorial purpose, but with the desire of the producers for creating new contacts with the critical cultural scenes across the national boarders and a creation of networks for their own operation. Thus, also the insight into the migrations and neo-liberalism themes will be broadened and deepened.

However, EuroVision2000 was not openly set merely with the intent of free admission. The initial idea was that the participants would, at individual presentations, debates and events, place questions, add to them with independent themes and independently organise events around a joint archive of video works. The gathered video works would therefore serve as a basis for debates, as material which can be used in various ways. The documentation of events is to be played live via the Internet together with the video programs. Therefore we tried to fulfil the idea about the periodical local European television. Aesthetic formal diversification of the video works - from pure documentary films to artistic video clips- with the content wise choice and the specific use of video in the local context proved to be very productive at the debates. The producers of video works were partially directly involved into the debates. Therefore, this way of work differs to a great extent from the currently successful video exhibitions in the artistic environments, which show the documentary works as traditional 'art pieces'.



Cafe9 was a project of the cultural capitals of Europe, which was financed by the member states of the European Union and took place simultaneously in 8 cultural capitals in the year 2000. The scheme of the project could be found in the various locally planned Mediaspaces, which were linked into a network and exchanged information and programs between them. The project was co-ordinated by a commercial company based in Helsinki, but the individual local initiatives differed to a great extent as regards their contents and character. The entire spectre reached from the completely alternative operation of Cafe9 in Prague to the Cafe9 information centre in Brussels. In opposition to this we have given concrete contents with EuroVision2000, maybe we even took a clear critical stance against the normative European Union processes and the need to establish physical contacts with the cultural producers at the place itself. At the beginning this did not contradict the desires of the Cafe9 organisers, for communication and exchange were amongst the social - political engaged projects, which amongst others also include the new media, and were explicitly formulated in the invitation. At the end the Cafe9 network offered technological and space infrastructure, as well as the basic financial support.
In practise the relation to Cafe9 Mediaspaces proved to be very problematic, and this did not come completely unexpected. The Cafe9 Mediaspaces did not enable the expansion of our network of correspondents, for the various Mediaspaces within and outside the European Union communicated between themselves merely on the structural level and did not have an unified content focus. The idea to create connections with the local cultural scenes mainly through an alternatively created network of locally disseminated premises proved to be the wrong choice. On the contrary, the structure of the Cafe9 project hindered our work, for the network activists and the media creators marked it as problematical due to its symbolic character (the parade project of the progressive, young Europe). Personal contacts with Cafe9 in Prague and especially contacts with Jennifer de Felice and Milos Voytechovsky hindered our insight into the symbolic reality and the political dimension of the projects in the cultural capital, the purpose of which was the culturalisation of politics and it had a completely different meaning within the European Union when compared to the Czech Republic. Even though we, on numerous occasions, stressed our content independence from the Cafe9 structure we still remained under their financial patronage and we used their infrastructure. The reproaches on this account hurt us even more than they should, for at the time we were truly operating with minimal funds.

For instance, in Brussels the politically engaged cultural workers and artists did not wish to debate in the Brussels 2000 premises, which would be possible, taking into account the planned incorporation of the progressive, youth cultural character of the activity and the appearance of Brussels 2000.
In Bologna the local activists did not wish to co-operate with us. In the Cafe9 Bologna concept they were rejected and during EuroVision2000 they were engaged with the preparations for the actions against the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) meeting in Bologna (June 2000) as well as with the preparation of the Italian version of the Indymedia homepage. In the spirit of solidarity also a number of other local critical groups renounced the project. The idea to invite various protagonists (with whom we had contacts) from Brussels and Bologna to Prague could not be realised due to the lack of financial means.

Theoretical and political issues and contents which we have prepared in co-operation with the local artists, theoreticians and activists were hardly considered by the local organisers. In Bologna the EuroVision2000 press statement was, after a few shortenings by the press release agency Bologna 2000, turned around to change the meaning and the local Cafe9 organisers invited video artists who had so far never yet critically dealt with the media activity to our preparation meeting. In Prague the Cafe9 co-ordinators invited local theoreticians who in honest did not fit the concrete tasks and thus disabled a productive discussion at the EuroVision2000 round table.
In Brussels the strategic purpose of the Brussels 2000 foyer for the Sans Papiers campaign (initiated by Marion Baruch) represented quite a handful to the local curators. The symbolic and political statement of such an event in a gallantly organised institutionalised communication and cultural centre in the heart of the European Union was clear and thus it demanded from the managers to clearly state their standpoints.

Limits of participation

With the EuroVision2000 invitation to the Videonale 9 in Bonn new issues emerged as regards the project and its symbolic meaning. In accordance with the tradition it addresses an institutionalised context (as for instance a video festival), the position of the individual and thus Soeren Grammel as the curator of the Videonale 9 primarily turned to us as authors. The standard form of the festival catalogue, in which our personal artistic biographies were planned, disabled detailed statements as regards the participation structure of the project and our roles of the initiator and producer. The institutionalised presentation limited our activities to the role of curators, while the collective and participation views of this form of work remained in the background. The Videonale 9 exhibition itself was conceived in such a way that the video clips were represented as independent works of art. Viewing EuroVision2000 Station, which is of key importance for the presentation of the project, obtained a character of an artistic installation in Bonn, even though we endeavoured otherwise.

At present, none of the larger events, from Manifesta to the planned Documenta 11, can not evade politically and theoretically marked events and/or the inclusion of interdisciplinary scenes, networks and the glow of the everyday, documentary reality. Collective structures, political activism and new theories have taken over the role of the apparent contemporary symbolic operation, i.e. it gives the current high art a politically sufficient and theoretically up to date mark. Such cultural events can hardly offer the invited projects and incentives the appropriate social and financial conditions for them to become productive through the symbolic reality.

In the artistic context various experience with the EuroVision2000 project in Bonn and in Cafe9 Mediaspaces in Prague show in what sort of a contradictory state today's social-political oriented cultural production has found itself, and yet it still calls itself independent. At the moment EuroVision2000 has strategically moved itself from the artistic environment, however with the invitations to various local environments it has encountered the problems of the cultural society in which it is possible to negotiate on the symbolic level as regards the critical and social activities, without the terms of the social frames changing. The assumption that our Western model of democracy, resistance and civil society is open for all and enables a free approach has (with our experience in Prague, Bonn and Brussels) proven to be a complete ideological construction, for the local forms of politicisation and criticism, which has a long tradition in a town such as Prague, eliminate each other.

Regardless of the contradictory and one could almost say limiting frame conditions the EuroVision2000 project managed to develop a network of producers, who will to a certain extent co-operate also in the future. Video works will still be made in various political fields and they will be used as material for discussion and from the content reasons we will recommend them to others and distribute them. Such a concept of self-dynamic processes, outside of the established distribution structures of art and culture and independent from the responsible authors proved to be the most promising in such a form of work. The structural concept as well as the social environment influence the productivity of the event and the initiative for the cultural participants themselves. The inclusion of the critical contents on the level of presentation in the cultural environment prevent the continuous process of partner co-operation and solidarity. From such a standpoint the perception of EuroVision2000 as an independent, collective project in fact means working under poorer conditions as one would at exhibition projects or events in limited frames in one of the low budget institutions - for example in Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna, for at the MoneyNations2 project, a large amount of solidarity and support was self-evident.
In a sense the project such as EuroVision2000 personifies all projects which at the beginning of their reflection deal with the issue under which terms and starting points can we deal with and transform the institution of art space and not merely with the personification on the symbolic level.

All events and the entire video archive of the communication process can be found at the homepage . The video works are available at the producers.
You can also find more information as regards MoneyNations on websites: and, and additional information on Cafe9 on the homepage



* The lecture/presentation was delivered live by Marion von Osten, Susanne Perin and Peter Spillmann in the form of a TV News broadcast. TV reports were made on the basis of the material from the EuroVision2000 video archive. Contrary to the regular TV news, defined by the Europe-centric aspiration for standardisation, their reports critically discuss the issues usually neglected, such as common European politics, globalisation, migration, asylums, the transition of the Schengen Border. EuroVision2000 aspires to go beyond the symbolic operation of the arts and their activities could be described as a form of political activism in art.

The presentation was followed by a discussion focused on the relationship between art, activism and political engagement in which (apart from the representatives of EuroVision2000) also the following individuals participated: Jurij Krpan (Director of Kapelica Gallery),Bogdan Le¹nik (Head of the Anthropology of Everyday Life program at ISH - Ljubljana Graduate School of Humanities and Chairman of the SCCA-Ljubljana Board), Nikolai Jeffs (representative of UZI - Intervention Bureau) and Marko Peljhan (inter-media artist and Director of the Atol Project).

Accompanying program: EuroVision2000 opened their video archive and made contacts in the Kapelica Gallery; two-day screenings of selected videos from the EuroVision2000 video archive in Slovene Cinema.