TRANSFORMATIONS: Living Room->Flea Market -> Museum -> Art

INTRODUCTION Words, images, and things can be turned upside down by crossing borders in time and space, and by traveling across cultures. A series of mostly peaceful revolutions culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in December 1991, effectively ending state socialism in Eastern Europe. This was not just a political watershed moment—it initiated a radical change in the material culture of daily life. Finally having access to a new world of consumer goods, many people living in formerly communist countries discarded the household and consumer items they had loved, hated, or simply taken as given. Objects associated with Cold War socialism ended up in dumping grounds and flea markets or were stored away in basements and attics. However, with passing time and an increasingly critical attitude toward the realities of life in post-socialist society, historical memory shifted and a new interest in the cultural heritage of socialism developed. Flea market items rose in value and prestige, and museums hesitantly started to acknowledge the significance and aesthetic value of Soviet Bloc artwork and artifacts. Once included in archives and museums, these materials became available for artistic appropriation and reinterpretation. Through a four-part passage from living room to flea market to museum to art studio, Transformations presents the metamorphosis of everyday objects in radically different contexts, highlighting how the ever-changing interpretations of the past are consistently informed by present-day views and concerns.

The Wende Museum thanks the participating artists Chelle Barbour, Ken Gonzales-Day, Farrah Karapetian, Richtje Reinsma & Daphne Rosenthal, Jennifer Vanderpool, and Bari Ziperstein. Thank you to Alisa Keegan for the mural. Special thanks to Odile Madden, Jeanine Koeppen, and the Getty
Conservation Institute for their generous loan of equipment.

Transformations is organized by Joes Segal and Anna Rose Canzano, with support from Sean Buchanan.
Cover image: mural of a composite Eastern Bloc cityscape by Alisa Keegan

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