Who If Not We…? had been a multifaceted project embedded in a tentative sketch of thoughts about aesthetical and political responsibilities of the time. The project had been proposed to a number of contemporary art curators and artists as an understructure from which to develop further elaborations. Through numerous discussions and in depth research of art scenes and their cultural contexts in the ⎼then⎼ new member states of the EU and the Netherlands, seven exhibitions had been developed. The subtitle 7 episodes on (ex)changing Europe is how we refer to what had evolved as a series of interrelated exhibits and had provided an impetus for a number of additional projects to develop around them. But most importantly, this phrase alludes to what had been a process of exchanging knowledge in search of new ways of thinking in that critical moment of changing Europe.

Within the framework of Who If Not We…? the curators identified works of art and themes that reflected both on developments of the time regarding aesthetic practices in Europe and the topics of major political consequence for the future. The exhibitions and the activities associated with them revolved around issues such as: migration and hospitality, social regulation and individual liberty, the question of border crossing and many others. The 7 episodes of Who If Not We…?: Surfacing, Time and Again, Cordially Invited, Out of the Shadows, Safety and Peace! Order and Freedom!, Olandu biuras – Vilnius and Edward Krasinski’s Studio, had taken place in different contexts throughout Europe parallelly, establishing a tangible web of meanings and positions.

This book can be seen as a vehicle that articulates the connections among the exhibitions and other projects in Who If Not We…?, and places them side by side as a comprehensive entity. The book is principally divided in two main parts. The main body of this publication reflects on what will become the exhibitions. It functions as a preview of the 7 episodes, presenting their visual and curatorial premises. In the second part of the book – the reader – we have included a number of texts discussing – for the time – urgent issues related to contemporary art and its immediate (mainly) European cultural and political contexts. Four of the texts have been written for this particular occasion and critically examine significant debates in Europe. The anthology section presents key texts that characterize the intellectual momentum established by a shift in discussions about, and awareness of, – then – emerging European reality, challenging settled stereotypes in our understanding of post-Cold War divide. In view of the fact that eight out ten – at the time – new EU member states belong to what we usually call ‘Eastern Europe’, it quickly becomes apparent that a significant part of the project provided a platform for these subjects to surface, and hopefully to trigger further discussions.