press release

M HKA, Antwerp: 19 January–6 May 2012 Opening: Thursday, 19 January, 8.30pm

Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven: 21 January–29 April 2012 Opening: Saturday, 21 January, 4pm

In January 2012 Spirits of Internationalism opens at M HKA in Antwerp and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. This exhibition takes place simultaneously in two venues and shows art from six European collections: four museums and two artist archives. It presents art made between 1956 and 1986, a period in which artists sought to come to terms with fast economic and technological development and severe international political tension.

The current crisis in Europe, the shift in geopolitical power from West to East and the Arab Spring compel us to take another look at the second half of the 20th century, when our present world was created. Technology gave us wings with the moon landing, Concorde, television and the computer. A political and economic world order developed with the Cold War, decolonisation, the unification of Europe and the amalgamation of the capital markets. It now appears to be on its last legs.

Spirits of Internationalism shows how the realities of the Cold War influenced art and changed the meaning of 'the international' and 'the regional'. The exhibition attempts to challenge the simplified image of 'Three Worlds' by creating surprising constellations that nuance the view of a separated East and West, North and South. The exhibition includes work by internationally well-known artists and artists who deserve to be recognised outside of their own region.

Spirits of Internationalism is the last part of a series of exhibitions developed within the framework of the European collaborative project l'Internationale. The partners are four museums—M HKA in Antwerp, MACBA in Barcelona, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana—and two artist archives—the Július Koller Society in Bratislava and the KwieKulik Archive in Warsaw.

Spirits of Internationalism is made possible with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.

Eight Spirits Spirits of Internationalism shows a cross-section of visual art from the period 1956–1986: a juxtaposition of artworks from museum collections and material from artist archives that cannot be divided into central and peripheral positions. Each artist offers his or her own perspective on art and its place in the world.

The exhibition is divided into eight parts, each representing a 'spirit' of internationalism. These are: 'the Concrete', 'the Essential', 'the Transcendental', 'the Subverted', 'the (Dis)located', 'the Universal', 'the Positioned' and 'the Engaged'. These eight spirits have been retrospectively created to express the tension between the regional and the international in the art of the Cold War period and the tension between the aesthetic or art-specific and the socio-political in the exhibited works.

A European Collection in the Making l'Internationale is a collaborative venture between four museums and two artist archives in six European countries. It connects these collections in a series of exhibitions that demonstrate how the recent cultural heritage can be independent of national boundaries. The ultimate aim is to create a 'European Collection', or even a 'Global Collection'.

The participating organisations will not amalgamate into an abstract unified entity, but instead gradually create a sense of interconnectedness between, in the first instance, Antwerp, Barcelona, Eindhoven, Ljubljana, Bratislava and Warsaw. l'Internationale will not become the next 'conglomerate' in the museum world, but a network that is both pragmatic and ideologically motivated.

The six current partners have in the past two years collaborated on the project 1956–1986. Art from the Decline of Modernism to the Rise of Globalisation, which consisted of four seminars, a conference and three exhibitions, of which Spirits of Internationalism is the last.

Artists Featured at Van Abbemuseum Alain Arias-Misson, Stuart Brisley & Ken McMullen, James Lee Byars, Luc Deleu, Lili Dujourie, Esther Ferrer, Gego, Jef Geys, Tomislav Gotovac, Grup de Treball, Paul De Vree, Tibor Hajas, Július Koller Archive, Zofia Kulik (KwieKulik Archive), Fina Miralles, François Morellet, Antoni Muntadas, Pere Noguera, OHO Archive, Panamarenko, Henk Peeters, Józef Robakowski, Tomaž Šalamun, Jan Schoonhoven, Mladen Stilinović, Toon Tersas

Spirits of Internationalism
6 European Collections 1956–1986
Kuratoren / Van Abbemuseum: Charles Esche, Steven ten Thije

Künstler / Van Abbemuseum: Alain Arias-Misson, Stuart Brisley & Ken McMullen, James Lee Byars, Luc Deleu, Lili Dujourie, Esther Ferrer, Gego , Jef Geys, Tomislav Gotovac, Grup de Treball , Paul de Vree, Tibor Hajas, Julius Koller, Zofia Kulik (KwieKulik ), Fina Miralles, François Morellet, Antoni Muntadas, Pere Noguera, Panamarenko , Henk Peeters, Jozef Robakowski, Tomaz Salamun (OHO ), Jan Schoonhoven, Mladen Stilinovic, Toon Tersas

19.01.2012 - 06.05.2012 Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerpen
21.01.2012 - 29.04.2012 Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven