Art and Cold War Political Reality Conference in Tallinn

Invitation to the international conference Art and Political Reality

You are cordially invited to Kumu Art Museum’s international conference Art and Political Reality.

Venue: Kumu Art Museum auditorium (Weizenbergi 34 / Valge 1, Tallinn, Estonia)
Dates: 26-27 October 2012
Conference language: English

International conference organized by Art Museum of Estonia aims to analyse the impact of political decisions and Cold War politics on art from the end of World War II until the end of 1970’s. The conference is a part of the international exhibition project curated by the German Historical Museum that includes exhibitions “Critique and Crises. Art in Europe since 1945” and “Fashion and the Cold War” in Kumu Art Museum.

Although the main focus of the conference is Estonia and local issues, the wider interest is to analyze and compare the actual impact political decisions had on visual culture throughout the Central and Eastern Europe. Despite the fact that countries of the socialist camp differed in cultural policies, moreover – Moscow even made exceptions for certain areas within the Soviet Union, main political mechanisms and methods remained much alike.

The local cultural policy during Cold War did not only comprise of the execution of Soviet Union’s ideological guidelines, but was also impacted by the Western states’ counter-propaganda. The effect of these mechanisms was either direct, related to governmental programs (USA’s exhibitions in Moscow), or indirect (the transformative meaning of Western mass culture in Central and Eastern Europe). That was also depended on the realpolitik between nations. The focus of the conference is therefore not art history in its narrow sense, but rather the mapping of wider social and political processes that had crucial impact on visual culture.

The conference takes interest in political and psychological mechanisms that were implemented to route art (in Soviet Union) and manipulate local mentality (veiled Western propaganda) on one hand, and on the other, in spheres of visual culture, where outcomes of these manipulations manifested themselves most clearly – design, fashion, applied art, popular culture and other artistic medias that were not under any direct political control or command but nonetheless expressed the effects of the ideological battle in their development

Conference programme:

Friday, October 26
10:00 Session I: Western Manipulation – Conscious or Unconscious? Strategies of Impact on Local Culture
14:00 Session II: Political Instructions from Moscow. Borders and Outlines

Saturday, October 27
10:00 Session III: Political and Cultural Fluctuations. How Local Power Manipulated Art
13:00 Session IV: Material and Visual Art Affected by Political Reality

NB! An up to date and detailed programme with speakers’ names and titles of the presentations as well as the conference statement can be found at the Art Museum of Estonia’s home page here:

Please register latest by October 24, via e-mail to

Travelling to Tallinn:
Travel information can be found on Tallinn Tourism page:

The venue:
Kumu Art Museum is located at the edge of Kadrioru Park, near the city centre.
For directions and map see:

Suggested hotels:
• Nordic Hotel Forum
Price per night starting from 110 EUR
• Tallink City Hotel
Price per night starting from 69 EUR
• Park Inn
Price per night starting from 50 EUR
• Economy Hotel
Price per night starting from 37 EUR

Further information:

Maria Jäärats, Conference Assistant