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New Literature from Europe - Artistic Fictions / Fictional Artists Panel Discussion


November 17, 2012

Moderated by Marek Bartelic.

New Literature from Europe is an annual literary festival organized by eight European national institutes of culture in collaboration with leading cultural institutions in New York.  Each year the organizers choose a theme ranging from crime fiction to cookbooks, the graphic novel to meditations on war and the ghosts of history.

The ninth annual New Literature from Europe festival asks why European writers are writing about art, about artists, and about the art world today. What does this art about other arts reveal about the creative process? Who is the audience for fiction about art? Why does it seem that painting or music is often used in the novel as a link between present and past, or even as a means for conjuring the dead? What can be revealed when one art form is refracted through another art form?  Are we seeing a resurgence of Surrealism in the wake of 9/11, in which the world now seems Surreal or virtualized?

In the work of the authors participating in this year’s festival the conclusions are both serious and satirical:


AUSTRIA: Klemens Renolder studied literature and music; worked as dramaturg in a number of renowned German-language theaters (Vienna, Munich, Zurich, and others) and later, as Curator of literature at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Berlin. Since 2008 he has been the Director of the Stefan Zweig Center at the Salzburg University. Author of many books, his novel Lily's Impatience came out at the end of 2011 to wide acclaim by reviewers.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Monika Zgustova is an award-wining author whose works (novels, short stories, a play and a biography) have been translated into nine languages. She was born in Prague. In the 1970s she studied comparative literature in the United States. In the 1980s she moved to Barcelona, where she writes for the op-ed page in El Pais, Spain's leading newspaper, as well as for Mlada Fronta Dnes, the Czech leading newspaper. As a translator of Czech and Russian literature into Spanish and Catalan –including the writing of Havel, Kundera, Hrabal, Dostoevsky, Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, and Babel– Zgustova is credited with bringing major twentieth-century writers into Spain.

FRANCE: Luc Lang is the prize-winning author of, among others: Voyage sur la ligne d’horizonLa Fin des paysages, and Mille six cents ventres(published in English as Strange Ways). In addition to fiction he writes essays on visual art and has contributed to a number of exhibition catalogs. Lang has also published the startling autobiographical work, 11 septembre mon amour in which, he ties the tragic fates of Native Americans to the victims of 9/11, and reflects on how a collective psyche deals with past and present horror. His short story collection, Cruel 13, on the brutality of the contemporary world in all its facets, will be published in English by The University of Nebraska Press in 2014. Lang writes widely on contemporary art and on the art of the novel and teaches aesthetics at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris et Cergy.

GERMANY: Marc Degens, publisher, musician, and author of novels, short stories, essays, poems and columns, was born in 1971 in Essen and lives in Bonn. He is publisher and literary editor of the online feuilleton, which features essays on and reviews of German-language literature of the 20th and 21st Centuries, comics, and pop culture. He is also editorial director of the SuKuLTuR publishing house and publisher of its “Schöner Lesen“ series of 111 works by young German authors that are sold through vending machines in the Berlin subway system. After living in Armenia for three years, where he curated the 2009 exhibit, “New German Newspaper Comics,” Degens was writer-in-residence in Novi Sad, Serbia as part of the “Little Global Cities” project before returning to Germany to co-conceive and moderate “The Enthusiasm Show,” a “feuilleton for the stage.” Degen’s collection of columns first published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, titled Unsere Popmoderne (2005), presents excerpts from 28 fictional works of contemporary literature with commentary on their fictional authors. His latest works are a new edition of Unsere Popmoderne (2010) and the novel, Das kaputte Knie Gottes (2011). 

POLAND: Agniesza Taborska (b. 1961) is reimagining the surreal for the postmodern era. A lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design since 1989, her main areas of interest are the image of women in fin de siècle Western art and literature, French Surrealism, the significance of women in the movement and the impact Surrealism has on contemporary art. Her contemporary experiments in surrealism with American collage artist Selena Kimball, The Dreaming Life of Leonora de la Cruz (tr. Danusia Stok, Midmarch Arts Press, 2007) and The Unfinished Life of Phoebe Hicks (tr. Ursula Phillips) join image and text in parallel narratives. She has taught at the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art, Pont-Aven, France (1996-2004). She has curated exhibitions of Surrealist art in France and Poland and written scripts for documentary films related to Surrealism. She is the author of 11 books published in Poland, US, France, Germany, Japan and Korea. Her works of fiction have received literary prizes in Germany and have been adapted for stage and brought to screen in form of award-winning animated films at International Film Festivals. Excerpts from, The Unfinished Life of Phoebe Hicks, have been published in The Saint Ann’s Review (Fall 2009, Fall 2010). Her books include Conspirators of Imagination. Surrealism (collection of essays published in Poland), The Whale, or Objective Chance (collection of short stories published in Poland), and The Dreaming Life of Leonora de la Cruz (published in Poland, France and the US).

SPAIN: Ricardo Menéndez Salmón is one of the most respected writers in the Spanish literary scene. Born in Gijón (Asturias) in 1971, he studied Philosophy and has written eight novels, a book of short stories and a literary travelogue. He regularly publishes articles in newspapers, and cultural and literary journals. His work has been translated into Catalan, French, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese, and he has received numerous literary awards. Praised unanimously by critics in Spain, his prose, rich and cultivated, has been described as having "a personal style, strong and close to expressionism" (El País); "a mature writer with the air of a classic" (ABC Cultural), "no writer today can compare to Ricardo Menéndez Salmón" (Qué Leer); "Goyesque imagery" (Revista de Letras), "the best of a generation of writers" (La Razón). His upcoming novel, Medusa, will come out in September.

ROMANIA: Dumitru Tsepeneag (born 14 February 1937) was a leading member and theorist of the Romanian “oneiricist” group in the late 1960s and early 70s, before the communist regime suppressed the literary movement. The regime viewed Tsepeneag as a troublemaker and in 1975 Ceausescu himself personally signed the decree stripping him of his Romanian citizenship, forcing him into exile. He settled in Paris, continuing to write in Romanian and later in French, as well as publishing extensively in the press. Since 1990, he has commuted between Paris and Bucharest. He has translated into Romanian books by Alain Robbe-Grillet, André Malraux, Albert Béguin, Robert Pinget, Alexandre Kojève, and Jacques Derrida. His short prose, novels, and collections of articles include Exercitii (Exercises, Bucharest, 1966);Frig (Cold, Bucharest, 1967); Asteptare (The Wait, Bucharest, 1972); Arpièges (the French translation of the then unpublished Romanian novel Zadarnica e arta fugii (Vain is the Art of the Fugue), Paris, 1973); Les noces nécessaires (Paris, 1977); La défense Alekhine, a book on chess theory (Paris, 1983); Le mot sablier, the integral French-language version of the bilingual Cuvintul nisiparnita(The Sandglass Word), the Romanian passages translated by Alain Paruit (Paris, 1984); Roman de gare (written in French, Paris, 1985);Pigeon vole (written in French, Paris, 1988); Inscenare si alte texte(A Staging and Other Texts, Pitesti, 1992); Nuntile necesare (The Necessary Weddings, 1992); Un roman la Paris (A Romanian in Paris, Cluj, 1993; definitive edition, Bucharest, 1997); Reintoarcerea fiului la sinul mamei ratacite (The Son’s Return to the Bosom of the Errant Mother, Jassy, 1993); Hotel Europa (Bucharest and Paris, 1996);Calatorie neizbutita (Abortive Journey, Bucharest 1998); Pont des Arts (Paris, 1998); Razboiul literaturii inca nu s-a incheiat (The Literature War is Not Yet Over, Bucharest, 2000); Prin gaura gheii(Through the Keyhole, Bucharest, 2001); Destin cu Popesti (A Fate with the Popescus, Cluj, 2001); Maramures (Cluj, 2001); Attente(Paris, 2003); Clepsidra rasturnataDialog cu Ion Simut (The Upturned Hourglass. Dialogue with Ion Simut, Pitesti, 2003); La belle Roumaine (Pitesti, 2004, Paris, 2006); Capitalism de cumetrie(Godfather Capitalism, Polirom, 2007); and Frappes chirurgicales(Paris, 2009)

MODERATOR: Dr. Marek Bartelik studied art at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris after moving from Poland to France in 1981. Bartelik holds a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Columbia University and a PhD in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been teaching modern and contemporary art at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York since 1996. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Yale and MIT.

Bartelik was a Graduate Critic-in-Residence at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore (2006-11). As an art critic, he served as President of AICA-USA (2008-May 2012) and currently serves as the XVth President of AICA International (International Association of Art Critics), which brings together 4500 critics in 63 national sections around the world. He lectures nationally and internationally, among other places, at MoMA in New York; the Boston Museum of Art in Boston; the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw; the Municipal Museum in the Hague and the Mondrian House in Amersfoort, Holland; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Pinacoteca, São Paulo, Brazil. His articles have appeared in, among other magazines and newspapers, CAA Art Journal, Art in America, and Artforum—for which he has written exhibition reviews from more than 20 countries on four continents. His books include: The Sculpture of Ursula von Rydingsvard (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1996), co-authored with Dore Ashton and Matti Megged; To Invent a Garden: The Life and Art of Adja Yunkers (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2000); Early Polish Modern Art: Unity in Multiplicity (Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2005)—for which he has received PIASA’s 2007 Wacław Lednicki Humanities Award; editor of POZA: On the Polishness of Contemporary Polish Art (Hartford, CT: Real Art Ways, 2008);and GDR/DDR: Contemporary German Painting from Portuguese Collections (Lisbon, Portugal: ARTing, 2008). His debut volume of poetry, East Sixth Street: 50 poems, was published by 7Letras in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in Dec. 2006. His first book in Polish, Łagodny deszcz (Gentle rain) was released by Fundacja Twarda Sztuka in Dec. 2010; the book’s English version is scheduled to be published in 2013.