The project takes the year 1989 as its starting point: a critical landmark in our recent history and a catalytic moment in the move away from the three-world partitioning of the Cold War and towards the “new world order.” The so-called West, blinded by the (default) victory of neoliberal capitalism on a global scale, failed to recognize the impact of the massive shifts put into motion by the events of that year, and continues to adhere to its own claims of hegemony. The term “former West,” never articulated as a counterpart to the widely used “former East,” thus does not refer to the status quo, but is rather an aspired to, imagined “farewell” to the “bloc” mentality. It is a critical, emancipatory, and aspirational proposal to rethink our global histories and to speculate upon our global futures through artistic and cultural practice.
At present, the project is in its culminating phase (2014–2016), evolving through a series of Public Editorial Meetings held in various geographical and discursive contexts, and realized by means of a collaborative effort between the project’s densely knit web of individual and institutional partners from around the world. This process leads to a major publication, FORMER WEST: Art and the Contemporary after 1989, edited by Boris Buden, Maria Hlavajova, and Simon Sheikh (forthcoming, 2016).