Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Bradley J. Nickels, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Wright, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Louis Marcus, M.A.

Committee Member

Andaluna Codruta Borcila, Ph.D.


Romania, Dracula, Exhibition practices, Post-communist condition, Archive


The focus of this research study is on major art works produced during the nineteen-nineties by the Romanian collective subREAL, composed of Calin Dan and Josif Kiraly. The thesis is an alternative to the literal-minded and politically biased Western view typified in two major exhibitions of art from Eastern Europe: Beyond Belief: Contemporary Art from East Central Europe (Chicago, 1995) and After the Wall: Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe (Sweden, 1999). Both exhibitions presented Post-Communist nations as a monolithic bloc, in which art was primarily a passive reflection of political and social events. It will be demonstrated that such exhibitions had consciously promoted this polarizing Western interpretation of the former socialist cultures of Eastern Europe.

By contrast, the argument presented here is that subREAL did not merely transmit information and facts from remote lands, but rather explored satire as the way to engage the world around them. It will be argued that an important satirical tactic employed by the artists was to juxtapose elements from ‘East’ and ‘West’ in order, first, to cope with bitter memories; second, to mock stereotypical images of Romanian culture; and finally, to disarm the ideological past and present by a critical distancing strategy. This analysis will iii entail the identification of specific social themes reflecting Romanian political and cultural changes of the 1990s.

The discussion of subREAL will reveal that the artists were very much aware of the Western conventions and realized that in order to enter the international scene they had to deliver works accessible to a Western audience. Operating within a specific satirical tradition, the artists negotiated a path between their artistic identity and the Western perception of that identity.