This Week/Alumni Highlight | East Central European Symposium Featuring Amy Hughes (Ph.D., 2022)

This Friday, Assistant Curator at the Corning Museum of Glass, Amy Hughes (Ph.D., 2022), will be presenting during the symposium Lessons from the Revolutions of 1989 in East Central Europe at 2:00pm at the Pyle Center. Learn more here. 

Abstract: My lecture, “Affective Dissent and the Haunting of Modernity” mobilizes critical revaluation of the performative role of what I define as affective dissent—the public expression of feelings not publicly tolerated under the Communist regime—in the public monumental sculpture, Friendship of Nations (1970–1972) by glass artists Stanislav Libenský (1922–2002) and Jaroslava Brychtová (1924–2020) commissioned for the entrance to the former Federal Assembly in Prague. Building on Central European concepts of dissents as efforts to open spaces for critical thinking, I assert dissent was a migrated in objects and affective responses the works generate. Drawing on the artists’ formal language and contextualizing the artists within the political climate of the period, I identify the formal program in several of their works as revealing loss, grief and violence stemming from their experiences of living in the early years of normalization. Thinking with Gordon Avery’s work on haunting as a framework to identify ways in which abusive systems of power reenact unresolved social violence into the present long after the systems are gone, Marianne Hirsch’s work on transgenerational haunting, and trauma scholarship, I articulate ways in which Frienship of Nations’ affective legacies from traumatic experiences under the Communist regime still circulate in the present. As such, I reposition their monumental glass sculpture as haunted sites of modernity requiring a reparative reading of the complexities of living under Communism and its legacies still lingering in the present.