A look, through the work of Ilona Németh, at the transitioning social and economic infrastructure of Eastern Europe.
The dramaturgy of neo-liberal capitalism's spread throughout Central and Eastern Europe appears today in the wake of the financial and political crises of the last decade, refracted in a new light. Taking as its starting point artist Ilona Németh's multifaceted investigation of the de-industrializing history of Slovak sugar refineries in the post-communist period, this collective volume brings together critical and artistic reassessments of the processes of social and economic transformation, the dislocation and re-composition of labor relations and working practices, as well as the disintegration and rekindling of notions of community and social well-being. Challenging the inevitability of the adoption of the western capitalist system, it examines how, in the rush to uproot the institutions and structures of socialism, the communitarian, microeconomic, and ecological potentialities of non-capitalist modes of living have been lost or endangered. The literal and metaphorical ruins of Eastern Sugar also offer themselves as a site to extend and expand upon the discussion of economic forces to incorporate environmental and decolonial approaches, for example present in the parallels and discrepancies between colonial and neo-colonial histories in the disparate geographies of sugar beet and sugar cane production. Through newly commissioned texts, conversations and focused contributions by artists, critics and curators, the publication Eastern Sugar restores complexity to the history of the rapid decline of the Slovak sugar industry, and by extension the entire social and economic infrastructure of transition in Central Europe, while at the same time opening up planetary trajectories for post-capitalist alternatives.
copublished with Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava