Eastern for Westerners
Review on Kallestrup, S. et al., 2022, Periodization in the Art Historiographies of Central and Eastern Europe. 1st ed. London: Routledge.
Keywords:periodization, art historiography, Central and Eastern Europe, non-linear art history, horizontal art history
Periodization of art as a subject of research is a challenge for writing a monograph on the region of Central and Eastern Europe. Due to the dense layering of different cultural contexts and the presence of experience that Western Europe did not have (for example, the existence of the Soviet regime), it does not allow applying the optics of traditional art history to the Eastern European region. The authors of the collective monograph Periodization in the Art Historiographies of Central and Eastern Europe joined in solving this problem, where researchers from the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and other countries of the region analyze periodization in the art historiography of specific countries, which sheds light on the "non-linear" art history, which combines three main discourses – imperial, academic and nationalist. The authors focus their attention on such problems as the Byzantine heritage, which in the historiography of the 19th century was supposed to replace the Italian Renaissance for a number of Eastern European countries, the interaction of large Western European narratives with local Eastern European ones, a change in the view of periodization under the influence of national movements, etc. Although the articles are devoted to different problems and topics, they are united by the application of postcolonial theory to the periodization and recognition of the Central/Eastern European region as a "near Other" in relation to the Western European one.
In this article, I compare the ideas highlighted in the monograph with other concepts exploring Eastern Europe from a postcolonial perspective. In the end, I come to the conclusion that all of them, taking into account the book under review, are aimed at revealing questions that interest Western researchers, namely, what is the region of Central and Eastern Europe: a colonizer, a colony, or combines both of these features. At the same time, basing on Piotrowski’s concept of "horizontal history", I argue that for the Eastern European audience, what is relevant is not the deconstruction of narratives within the boundaries of modern Central and Eastern European states, but on the contrary, tracing the intersection of different cultural contexts of neighboring countries outside the borders of national narratives, since Eastern European countries know more about the art of the West than about each other’s art.
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