This article contributes to a recent debate around the question “What Is Contemporary Art?” It brings into discussion certain key aspects of the activities of the Soros Centers for Contemporary Art (SCCA)—a network of contemporary art centers established by the Open Society Institute in Eastern Europe during the 1990s. The author draws upon distinctions between this new type of art institution and the Union of Artists (the organizations which represented the interests of artists under socialism), highlighting distinct artistic, aesthetic and economic characteristics of each institutional model.

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