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The Postsocialist ContemporaryThe Institutionalization of Artistic Practice in Eastern Europe After 1989$
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Octavian Esanu

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781526158000

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2022

DOI: 10.7765/9781526158017

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Art in the “open society”: the aesthetics of problem-solving

Art in the “open society”: the aesthetics of problem-solving

(p.126) 3 Art in the “open society”: the aesthetics of problem-solving
The Postsocialist Contemporary

Octavian Esanu

Manchester University Press

As discussed in previous chapters, the main postulates outlined in the mission statements of these centers – in their imperative to build an institutional infrastructure for the art of the “open society,” which is to say “contemporary art” – amounted to an ideology of postsocialist artistic institutions and practices in the 1990s. But such statements were the fruit of various managerial-bureaucratic narratives woven in the Open Society Institute offices of New York and Budapest. The postsocialist or Soros contemporary had a clear managerial agenda, but it lacked an aesthetic or artistic program. This chapter examines a small segment of the vast ideological universe of new or neo-liberalism. It engages with the work of a few intellectuals who have left a deep impact not only on post-1989 reforms in Eastern Europe, but also on the world. The chapter looks into some of the ideas about art that were popular among a number of Central European intellectuals that were affiliated in some way or another with Karl Popper. Rather than consider their general social, scientific, and economic postulations – for which they have been celebrated by advocates of the free market, over the course of the past century – the chapter traces their artistic and aesthetic beliefs, seeking to comprehend the place of art in the ideological universe of Cold War liberalism. The chapter poses such questions as: What is the place of art in the “open society” that Soros, following Popper’s dream, decided to build in Eastern Europe?

Keywords:   neoliberal aesthetics, art as problem-solving, art in the open society, totality, aestheticism, Cold War liberalism, Karl Popper, Friedrich von Hayek, Ernst Gombrich, Ludwig von Mises

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