The significant international project by Ilona Németh EASTERN SUGAR has a publication
The Slovak National Gallery in cooperation with the Sternberg Press present a more than a 300-page richly illustrated book Ilona Németh: Eastern Sugar, which takes as its starting point the Slovak artist´s extensive research, and has been implemented as part of a prestigious international project.
Through critical texts, conversations, and artistic interventions, the book Ilona Németh: Eastern Sugar restores complexity to the history of the rapid decline of the Slovak sugar industry, and by extension the wider social and economic infrastructures of transition in Central Europe. This book takes as its starting point contemporary artist Ilona Németh´s extensive research into the history of sugar production in Slovakia and our region, from its beginnings in the early 19th century, when northern sugar beet emerged as a competitor to southern sugar cane, to the social impact of the rapid decline of the industry in the era of peak globalization.
Eastern Sugar was the name given to Juhocukor, the former largest Slovak sugar factory in Dunajská Streda, after a foreign trading company entered the Central European sugar industry in the 1990s following the fall of communism. In the first decade of the new Millennium, the company collected its investments through the European Union´s compensation scheme and permanently shut down its factories.
The book examines the fate of this company as a microcosm of mechanisms of the post-communist transition throughout Central Europe, from the opportunism of financial speculators to the widespread corruption of privatization. And, at the same time, it raises the question whether a neo-liberal market policy was really the only viable strategy to escape from state socialism. The contributions elaborating on the social and environmental heritage of the Caribbean sugar plantation economy put the history of the sugar industry in Eastern Europe into context of longer periods of the spread of the mono-cultural system based on (neo)colonial extractivism.