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This book represents the first attempt to write a comprehensive account of performance art in Eastern Europe - the former communist, socialist and Soviet countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe - since the 1960s. It demonstrates performance art, which encompasses a range of genres, among them body art, happenings, actions and performance. In exploring the manifestations and meanings of performance art, the book highlights the diversity of artistic practice, moments and ways in which performance emerged, and its relationship to each country's sociopolitical climate. The book discusses 21 countries and over 250 artists, exploring the manner in which performance art developed concurrently with the genre in the West. It examines how artists used their bodies in performance to navigate the degrees of state control over artistic production and cultivate personalised forms of individual integration and self-expression of body, gender, politics, identity, and institutional critique. A comparative analysis of examples of performance art addressing gender-related issues from across the socialist and post-socialist East is then presented. The themes addressed provide local cultural and historical references in works concerning beauty, women's sexuality and traditional notions of gender. Artists' efforts to cope with the communist environment, the period of transition and the complexities of life in the post-communist era are highlighted. Artists during the communist period adopted performance art as a free-form, open-ended means of expression to give voice to concepts, relationships and actions that otherwise would not have been possible in the official realm of art.

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Fairground, cabaret, exhibition

6 Performance spaces: fairground, cabaret, exhibition The public needs to be violated in unusual positions. Francis Picabia (1978: 25) In Dada’s privileged spaces – the fairground, the cabaret, the exhibition, the cinema – from Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire to the Salle Gaveau in Paris, via the Cologne Brauhaus Winter brewery or Otto Burchardt’s Berlin art gallery, it is enlightening to consider dadaist activities in terms of performance rather than simply spectacle, process rather than product. Although the term ‘performance art’ was first used around 1970 to

in Dada bodies

11 Futurist performance, 1910–1916 Günter Berghaus Futurist performance Introduction In 1983, I was asked to contribute an essay to a Festschrift honouring the achievements of my colleague William Edward Yuill. I considered writing something on Dada performance (Bill, whom I directed on several occasions, could be a Dada actor in more than one respect!) and threw myself with gusto into the documents related to the Cabaret Voltaire. When I discovered that both Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara had conducted a correspondence with the Italian Futurists, it seemed

in Back to the Futurists
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Epilogue Artists working in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe during the communist period adopted performance art as a free-form, open-ended means of expression to give voice to concepts, relationships and actions that otherwise would not have been possible in the official realm of art or in the public sphere. In the post-communist period, artists continued to embrace the experimental nature of performance. They have likewise utilised performance art to articulate issues of concern, including those related to national and other forms of identity that have

in Performance art in Eastern Europe since 1960
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Introduction This book represents the first attempt to write a comprehensive account of performance art in Eastern Europe – the former communist, socialist and Soviet countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe – since the 1960s. It is indebted to groundbreaking studies on the subject such as Zdenka B ­ adovinac’s Body and the East: From the 1960s to the Present (1998), the first exhibition to examine body art practices in the region, which was accompanied by a catalogue that serves as a precursor to the present volume. As this book will demonstrate

in Performance art in Eastern Europe since 1960

Politics and identity They (art catalogue text writers, curators, journalists, etc.) always read my work in the geopolitical context of the country I represent. So no matter what my work was about – it was seen only in the light of this Balkan communism – post-communism, war-post-war, anti-modern tradition, weird local habits, and described in terms of cultural, social and political references related to the place I come from. – Vladimir Nikolić, 2007 Roselee Goldberg reductively characterises performance art from the former communist countries in Eastern

in Performance art in Eastern Europe since 1960
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1 Sources and origins Thank god for the so-called Iron Curtain … this perfect isolation meant that we did not degenerate as swiftly or as tragically as the rest of Europe. There, art became titillation, a delicacy, a topic of conversation. Our activities are not experimental art, but necessary activity. – Milan Knížák, 1966 Pre-history In Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present, Roselee Goldberg outlines the development of performance in Western Europe and North America, pointing to its origins in Futurism and Dada in the early years of the twentieth

in Performance art in Eastern Europe since 1960
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and existed to varying degrees across the East. In East Germany, either the Stasi infiltrated artist groups (Clara Mosch) or artists feared that they had (Autoperforatsions­ artisten) but never really knew. In places such as Romania or Normalisationera Czechoslovakia, public space was monitored to a similar extent. While in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s Milan Knížák was able to enact public exhibitions and performances on the streets, during the following decade, the next generation of Czech artists retreated to the private spaces of apartments, basements or to the

in Performance art in Eastern Europe since 1960
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the East. Speaking about conditions in the Soviet Republic of Latvia, Mark Allen Svede commented, one risks accusations of sophistry to propose that gender parity existed in a society in which washing machines were luxury items and food shopping required standing in queues, yet women were expected to perform these 3 166 Performance art in Eastern Europe since 1960 domestic chores even after working all day as a gallery director, all-Union legislator, or Artist Laureate of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. At best, a pyrrhic victory might be claimed.4

in Performance art in Eastern Europe since 1960

time that artists began to ‘expose the institution of art as a deeply problematic field, making apparent the intersections where political, economic and ideological interests directly intervened and interfered in the production of public culture’.1 In the 1960s, critics Lucy Lippard and John Chandler noted a shift in focus, from the creation of objects to the process of creation in Minimal, Conceptual and performance art.2 In foregrounding process and the experience of the artwork, artists aimed to circumvent the formal atmosphere of the museum, creating an ephemeral

in Performance art in Eastern Europe since 1960