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Suzana Milevska // VIS VERITAS OBSES (Truth Is the Hostage of Force)

April 16, 2015

An open “teach and tell” letter from Dr. Suzana Milevska, Endowed Professor for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and a profound apology to the students for her resignation (the second request for a premature resignation sent to the Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna will follow.)

Dear Students of the “Central and South Eastern European Art Histories” course,                               

With this letter I want to inform you that I am no longer the Endowed Professor for Central and South Eastern Art Histories. A new professor was already appointed to the post. Although the legal procedures of my appeal to the Equal Opportunities Team and the Arbitration Commission, as well as the resignation are not yet completed, I am not in a situation to continue teaching the course as I have lost all trust and respect for the structures and individuals who initiated and provided for the realisation of this course and my position – through the official partnership between the Erste Foundation and the Academy of Fine Arts. The use of asymmetrical power relations, which included manipulation, intimidation, intrigue and contradicting exploitation, even some “editorial interventions” (read: censorship) of my work were some of the constant pressures which happened during the preceding period. It simply turned to be too much to handle, leading to my resignation (and even to the deterioration of my fragile health).

I will need some time to re-think the political positions regarding my curatorial and theoretical work. They were profoundly affected, in negative terms, during the last period of my teaching. I’ve lost this job and this is not a big deal for me, being independent most of my life. But, it’s important to know whether I’ve lost it because I was “too critical” and disobeyed or because I didn’t team up with “the powers that be”? Instead, I’ve devoted most of my time to preparing the lectures and seminars and discussing different topics and concerns with you, even outside of the classroom. We’ll probably never find out the answer to this, because “truth is the hostage of force.” One thing became certain, that on the stage of neoliberal systemic intervention within the educational structures whatever teaching “performances” I realised in the past and planed for the future were overwritten and became “infelicitous” – to use J. L. Austin’s analysis of “speech acts” in which the performative speeches turn into empty promises depending on the given context.

As you know I designed the course as a group PEN-PAL project. It was envisioned in order to continue the dialogue between the “East” and “West” (“North” and “South”). But my own case proved that such a dialogue, even twenty five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall (and eighteen years after the scepticism of Igor Zabel’s text Dialogue East-West: East Is East?), is still not possible, or at least not in this institutional framework and not on equal basis.

I will soon provide you with my resignation letters (the first was not accepted) and further information on the reasons of my adamant decision to resign. I’ve sent the first letter after the scandal with the schizophrenic selection process for the new call for my position (which revealed that the Rector made her decision opposite to the unanimous support of my application from the Institute of Art Theory and Cultural Studies that hosts the Professorship). I am sure that you could understand better my decision than the Rectorate because you were the only witnesses and the end recipients of the course content. A course that was based on certain beliefs which right now are only in the past, and which I cannot proceed to present without cynicism – a state of mind which I refuse as a kind of teaching and theorising framework.                                                                                                                              

Sincerely apologetic, 

Dr. Suzana Milevska,
ex-professor for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

12 April, 2015


Please also read and share the petition initiated by students from Milevska’s Central and South Eastern Art Histories course – “Free Suzana Milevska”



Drawing by ArtLeaks

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