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 The themes addressed provide local cultural and historical references in works concerning beauty, women's sexuality and traditional notions of gender.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.
Artists working in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe during the communist period adopted performanceart 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 performanceart to articulate issues of concern, including those related to national and other forms of identity that have
This book represents the first attempt to write a comprehensive account of performanceart 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 Badovinac’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
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
In PerformanceArt: 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 century. From
’s equality both in the region and globally, and a desire to change that state of affairs. Finally, given that many artists in the region were exploring gender-related issues during the socialist period independently of one another, Jana Gerzova describes their work as ‘islands of interest in feminism’. 17 One of the aims of this chapter, then, is to connect these islands using performanceart as a bridge. While all the artists in this chapter were working in different sociopolitical contexts within the overall context of state-sponsored socialism in Eastern Europe and
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 performanceart. 2 In foregrounding process and the experience of the artwork, artists aimed to circumvent the formal atmosphere of the museum, creating an
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 performanceart from the former communist countries in Eastern Europe prior to the
and social circumstances surrounding it. 8 Her analysis of performanceart in Eastern Europe echoes arguments made by Amelia Jones around that same time: that body art ‘insistently pose[s] the subject as intersubjective (contingent on the other) rather than complete within itself (the Cartesian subject who is centered and fully self-knowing in his cognition)’. 9 Consequently, interpreting these performing bodies in their context yields insights into the sociopolitical factors underlying their actions. In other words, by examining the various uses and expressions
‘The Platonic differential’ and ‘Zarathustra’s laughter’
’s phantasy of
But if the reverse-Platonic performanceart of the
1960s concerns the ‘mask of these masks’, 18 what kind of mask
or persona might become the ‘worldly’ philosopher
– traditionally distinct from both artist and actor
(Nietzsche notwithstanding) – as a figure of and for their
‘voice’? Is it possible to ‘translate
(status-homophilous) interactions. Lady Gaga may be enjoyed for her dancefloor bangers or her performanceart, for example. It is a matter of how audiences approach and appreciate music; what they listen for; how they use music; the critical tools they bring to bear (or don't). Linking to Danto ( 1964 ) and Fish ( 1980 ), it is a matter of interpretive conventions oriented to background knowledge and assumptions (see Chapter 2 ). And linking to Peirce ( 1991 ), it is a matter of shared associations which bestow semiotic meaning (see Chapter 6 ). In all cases, the