Curator: Olivia Nițiș


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” Charles Dickens,  A Tale of Two Cities

Timișoara, Hala Faber
Period: 11 – 30 May 2024
Visiting hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12:00 – 20:00 (Monday closed)
Free entry
Opening: 11 May, 19:00
Prague, Pragovka Gallery
Period: 06 June – 29 August 2024

A Spring of Hope, A Winter of Despair creates a context for observations and reflections on a particular segment of the conceptual art of the 1970s and 1980s in the former Socialist Republic of Romania and Czechoslovakia as well as în the period following the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Starting from a quote from the introduction of Charles Dickens’ book A Tale of Two Cities published in 1859, the project aims to present insights into the tensions generated by political emergencies and deeply human needs in two geographical areas part of the former Eastern Bloc following an apparently contradictory structure based on the relationship between hope and despair.

By no means Romania and Cechoslovakia should be regarded as disconnected form a broader analysis on the conceptual art of the socialist East, but rather as a case study sample.

The project has the mission to illustrate the complicated design of inter-human conflicts, the despair, resistance and survival in various forms of political regimes from totalitarianism to capitalism and the practice of hope.

Presenting conceptual and aesthetic similarities the works by Romanian and Czech artists reflect the transition of hope and the process of its redefinition following a historical course with interconnected roots that recontextualize the understanding of conceptualism in Eastern Europe and the invisible connectedness between artists in spite of the limitations imposed by the political regimes. The exhibition brings together works that present a certain image of coexistence, which is a way to formulate a replica of simultaneous and transhistorical realities. (Olivia Nițiș)


  • Kamila B. Richter & Michael Bielicky
  • Irina Botea
  • Vladimir Havlik
  • Jiří Kovanda
  • Gabriela Mateescu
  • Iulian Mereuță †
  • Karel Miler
  • Delia Popa
  • Gheorghe Rasovszky
  • Marilena Preda Sânc
  • Decebal Scriba
  • Roxana Trestioreanu
  • Jiří Valoch
  • Eva Koťátkova
  • Iulia Stătică & Adrian Câtu

Sponsor: AFCN
Producer: Asociația Culturală Contrasens
Powered by: Constructim
Parteners: Experimental Project, Pragovka Gallery, Centrul Ceh
Media partners: Revista ARTA, Propagarta

Project co-funded by the AFCN. The project does not necessarily represent the position of the National Cultural Fund Administration. AFCN is not responsible for the project content or the way in which the project results may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the funding beneficiary.