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Direct Week

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Date: 6-9 July 1972

Organisers: Gyula Pauer (1941), Tamás Szentjóby (1944)

Participants: László Beke, Miklós Erdély, Gyula Gulyás, Miklós Haraszti, László Haris, Ágnes Háy, Tamás Hencze, Péter Lajtai, Péter Legéndy, József Molnár V., Gyula Pauer, Margit Rajczi, Tamás Szentjóby, Endre Tót

Location: Chapel Studio of György Galántai, Balatonboglár

Direct Week was an exhibition and event series that incorporated works and actions replying to Pauer’s and Szentjóby’s call, as well as lectures and screenings that were originally in the program of the “Avantgarde Festival” planned in April in a Budapest Club, but banned shortly before its scheduled date.

Documents:

Gyula Pauer, Tamás Szentjóby: Call for “Direct Week” (1972)

Gyula Pauer: II. Pseudo Manifesto (Advertisement) (1972)

Tamás Szentjóby:  Exclusion exercise – Punishement-Preventive Autotheraphy (1969-72)

Source: Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003):  126-135.

On the website of Artpool Art Research Center


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Today You Open the Exhibition – responsibility-taking action

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Date: 28 July 1972

Participants: György Galántai (1941), István Haraszty (1934)

Location: Chapel Studio of György Galántai, Balatonboglár

The action took place during the exhibition of the Pécs Workshop (Ferenc Ficzek, Károly Halász, Károly Kismányoki, Ferenc Lantos, Sándor Pinczehelyi, Kálmán Szíjártó, Katalin Nádor) and István Haraszty’s kinetic sculptures.

Documents:

István Harasztÿ – interview (1998)

György Galántai – manuscript (1998)

Source: Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003): 138.


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Meeting of Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian artists – exhibition, actions

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Date: 26 August 1972

Participants: Imre Bak, Peter Bartoš, László Beke, Miklós Erdély, Stano Filko, György Galántai, Péter Halász, Béla Hap, Ágnes Háy, Tamás Hencze, György Jovánovics, J. H. Kocman, Péter Legéndy, János Major, László Méhes, Gyula Pauer, Vladjimir Popović, Petr Štembera, Rudolf Sikora, Tamás Szentjóby, Anna Szeredi, Endre Tót, Péter Türk, Jiři Valoch

Organized by: László Beke (1944)

Location: Chapel Studio of György Galántai, Balatonboglár

During the two-day meeting an exhibition and various actions were organized by László Beke, who invited artists from Czechoslovakia and Hungary to create contacts with each other.

Documents:

Interview with László Beke (1998)

Interview with Gyula Pauer (1998)

György Galántai’s diary (1972)

Source: Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003):  141-3.


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László Beke, Miklós Erdély, György Jovánovics, Péter Legéndy, János Major, Gyula Pauer, and Tamás Szentjóby – exhibition and actions

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Date: 24 June 1973

Participants: László Beke (1944), Miklós Erdély (1928-1986), György Jovánovics(1939), Péter Legéndy (1948), János Major (1936-2008), Gyula Pauer (1941), Tamás Szentjóby (1944)

Location: Chapel Studio of György Galántai, Balatonboglár

This exhibition – presented two months before the Chapel Studio was occupied and closed by the police – did not have any title and was completed spontaneously with works and actions during two weeks. The works exhibited were used as props for theatrical performances in the next few weeks.

Documents:

Miklós Erdély: What is avantgardism? (1973)

Tamás St. Auby – interview (1998)

György Jovánovics – interview (1998)

Source: Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003): 150-5.


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Freedom Industry Broadcast, Channel 4 – reading action and happening by Tibor Hajas

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Date: 21 July 1973

Participant: Tibor Hajas (1946-1980)

Location: Chapel Studio of György Galántai, Balatonboglár

The text was read as part of an action performed in the Chapel Studio in Balatonboglár in 1973. While reading out the text Hajas tied the audience together, then burned the ropes according to a guestbook entry.

Documents:

Tibor Hajas: Freedom Industry Broadcast, Channel 4 (1973)

Miklós Haraszti: Guest-book entry about Tibor Hajas’s reading action (1973)

Source: Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003): 160-1.
On the website of Artpool Art Research Center

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Exhibitions-Actions by the Group of Six Artists

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Date: 1975-1979

Place: City of Zagreb (various outdoor and indoor locations); Mošćenička Draga beach; City of Belgrade, SKC Gallery, Belgrade

Concept by: Group of Six Artists

Participants: Boris Demur, Željko Jerman, Vlado Martek, Mladen Stilinović, Sven Stilinović, Fedor Vučemilović

In the period of 1975-1979 a group of artists and friends (later dubbed “Group of Six Artists”) — Boris Demur, Željko Jerman, Vlado Martek, Mladen Stilinović, Sven Stilinović, Fedor Vučemilović  — organized a series of twenty-one “exhibition-actions.” With the exception of Demur, who graduated painting at the Zagreb Academy of Arts, the group members were not trained as visual artists, but rather approached the “new art practice” from other fields, such as poetry (Martek), photography (Sven Stilinović, Vučemilović), amateur photography (Jerman), amateur film (Mladen Stilinović). This determined their shared anti-aesthetic, anti-programmatic and anti-professional stance to art production, resulting in experiments with photography, poetry, text, concepts, ephemeral interventions and actions, as well as exhibition experiments. The initial distance from academic and art institutions led them to the concept of “exhibition-actions,” a series of self-organized public presentations of their work, initially taking place in the open, public spaces of the city and its surroundings: the streets and squares of the Zagreb city center, residential neighborhoods, the river banks, beaches, university hallways.

In his chronology of the group’s activities, Darko Šimičić traces the group’s self-organized presentations to the action performed on the night of the 9th of October 1974, when three group members (Demur, Jerman, Martek) intervened on the advertising board under the railway bridge of Savska Street in Zagreb. In this action, Jerman presented his famous slogan “This Is Not My World,” written in hypo on photographic paper. According to Šimičić, “[t]his illegal exhibition in a public site was to become in somewhat modified form the prototype [of] the later group appearances.” 1 The first exhibition of the whole group took place on the 11th of May at the Sava River public bathing site: works were installed along the embankment, on sunbathing boards, and the grass. The term “exhibition-action” was first used to describe their second collaborative exhibition, which took place on the 29th of May, at the Zagreb neighborhood Sopot, part of the newly-urbanized zones of the “New Zagreb” built during the 1950s and 1960s. In their exhibition-actions, the artists exhibited paintings, photographs, installations, objects, as well as performed actions. For example, in the Sopot exhibition-action, Jerman showed two childhood photographs pasted on styrofoam boards: one in which he became member of the pioneer organization, and the other where he received his first Holy Communion. Mladen Stilinović showed paintings from the cycle Me, You, Mine, Yours, and performed an action of jumping up in order to appear higher than the skyscrapers in the background.

The group’s public presentations gained more visibility and attention with their October 1975 exhibition at the Republic Square, the central square in Zagreb. Jerman exhibited his “elementary photographs,” along with the slogan “Life, and not slogans”; Sven Stilinović showed a series of photos of a dead dog juxtaposed with photographs deemed to possess artistic beauty; Mladen Stilinović handed out photos of smiles to passers-by; Demur pasted the advertisement board with the poster on which only the word “Eto” [There you go] was written; Vučemilović asked the passer-by to take a photo of him. Judging from the reactions that the artists recorded and later published in one of the issues of their Maj 75 magazine, Zagreb citizens were not impressed, dubbing the exhibition “international idiocy” and seeing it as a symptom of disease, or simply students’ immaturity and idleness. Polemics in the newspapers ensued when a local art critic dismissed the artistic validity of the action. 2

An interesting twist to the form of exhibition-action was added with the May 1976 action City Walk, in which the artists walked through the streets of Zagreb, carrying their paintings, photographs and art objects. Demur carried a black painting with the text “I’m not crazy to paint bourgeois paintings” written in red. In June of the same year, they staged an exhibition-action on the beach of Moščenićka Draga. Jerman laid on photo-paper, leaving behind the imprint of his body; Martek performed an action of tearing banknotes: “In my opinion there is no greater contradiction than the contradiction between the sea as a reality and a the money as an abstraction.” 3 Sven Stilinović painted beach stones, while Vučemilović, who was not present, declared the movements of Jerman to be his own art (live sculptures). Several works testify to the centrality of the dematerialized idea of art for the group’s work: art — as well as collective and collaborative work — was conceived as a process, and a form of immediate sharing that cannot be reproduced or materialized. For example, Demur made a series of “mental works,” works that were not realized and that were forgotten: “I left my mental process of action in its original form without translating it into communication of any kind whatsoever.” 4 Similarly, Mladen Stilinović stated that part of the works conceived for the exhibition-action “was neither produced, noted down, now memorized. It was lived with friends.” 5

Starting from 1977, several exhibition-actions took place in gallery spaces. For the January 1978 exhibition at the Nova Gallery in Zagreb, the artists played with the idea of “oral tradition.” Keeping the tradition of their street presentations, the concept required a mandatory presence of the artists next to their work exhibited in the gallery, so that they could engage in conversations with the visitors and communicate their ideas about each particular work, as well as more general ideas on art. In June 1968, in the framework of the April Encounters festival in Belgrade, the group decided to organize a public working meeting at the SKC Gallery, making the very workings of the group and the plotting of their contributions to the festival transparent to the audience. This idea of openness, communication, and sharing was central to the group, and resonated with other artistic and curatorial practices that engaged in the conversations around the “democratization of the arts” that characterized the 1960s and 1970s. However, also crucial was the idea of self-organization and autonomy, and the freedom from institutional and ideological conditioning and censorship. Alongside the unique concept of “exhibitions-actions,” the group’s samizdat “catalogue-magazine” Maj 75, initiated in 1978, as well as their engagement in Podroom — the Working Community of Artists from 1978-1980, became additional platforms through which the group strove to achieve these aims.

DocumentComments of passers-by recorded during exhibition-actions at the Zagreb Republic Square (1975 and 1978)

Guide for the chronology (Ivana Bago: Something to think about: values and valeurs of visibility in Zagreb from 1961 to 1986)


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Appearance – action by the Collective Actions Group

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Date: 13 March 1976

Organizer-Participants: Andrei Monastyrski (b. 1949), Lev Rubinstein (b. 1947), Nikita Alekseev (b. 1953), and George Kiesewalter (b. 1955)

Location: Izmailovsky Field, Moscow

Appearance was the first action organized by the group of artists and poets who would later become the Moscow Conceptualist performance art group Collective Actions.[1] A group of around thirty fellow artists and friends received invitations to attend Appearance. These viewer–participants included: A. Abramov, M. Saponov, I. Golovinskaia, V. Chinaev, N. Panitkov, N. Nedbailo, R. Gerlovina, V. Gerlovin, N. Lepin, and twenty other people. As instructed, they traveled just outside of the city and gathered on the edge of a field to wait for the action to start. After a short time two figures—Lev Rubinstein and Nikita Alekseev—appeared from the forest on the opposite side of the field. Crossing the field to meet the audience, they distributed documents for viewers to sign as testimony that they were present at Appearance. In the following years, other actions were staged where viewers were invited to listen to a bell ringing in the snow (Lieblich, April 2, 1976), to pull a rope out of the forest for hours (Time of Action, October 15, 1978), or to have their pictures taken as they crossed a field (Place of Action, October 7, 1979). Inspired by the work and writings of John Cage, by Zen Buddhism, and by the philosophies of Kant and Heidegger, these actions explored the limits of viewer perception, while also serving as social meeting places for the Collective Actions group and the circle of Moscow Conceptual artists. Over time, hand-bound volumes documenting the actions were produced and called Poezdki za gorod (Trips Out of the City). The representational and aesthetic qualities of photographic and textual documentation themselves became subjects of the group’s further investigations.

[1] Rubinstein did not participate in in organizing actions following Appearance. Subsequent members of the group included Nikolai Panitkov (b. 1952), Igor Makarevich (b. 1943), Elena Elagina (b. 1949), Sergei Romashko (b. 1952), and Sabine Hänsgen (b. 1955).

Document:

Irina Pivovarova, viewer recollection from Lieblich (1976), The Lantern (1977), and Time of Action (1978), November 1980.


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The Old House – happening by Andris Grīnbergs

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Date: 1977

Participants: Irakly Avaliani, Džonītis (Jānis Silenieks), Laima Eglīte, Mudīte Gaiševska with son Dāvids, Andris Grīnbergs, Inta Grīnberga, Anita Kreituse, Māra Ķimele, Leonards Laganovskis, Ingvars Leitis, Po (Juris Brīniņš), Eižens Valpēters, and Māra Zirnīte

Organizer: Andris Grīnbergs

Photographers: Māra Brašmane and Jānis Kreicbergs

Location: House at 21 Elizabetes (formerly Kirova) Street, Riga

The actions organized by Andris Grīnbergs mainly took place in private locations and had no connection to the institutional art scene or Soviet reality. They were almost always collective, involving Grīnbergs’s friends, associates, and occasionally strangers, who turned the initial idea or impulse into situational spontaneity and made the narrative (characters, atmosphere) into a living fact. The actions were both provocative and romantic, with frequent displays of nudity as a manifestation of personal freedom.

The happening “The Old House” was held in a once-grand but now-abandoned house and served as both a farewell to the place and as a celebration of changing times. The participants, either naked or in clothes, visualizing the emotional narrative, enlivened the abandoned interiors with improvisations, music and poetry. These activities seemingly merged bygone times and existence outside of time through interpretations of various emotional stages and ambiguous identities.


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Models – Māris Ārgalis’s solo exhibition

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Date: November–December 1978

Participant: Māris Ārgalis

Location: Exhibition hall of the Republican House of Science, Riga

This was the first solo exhibition for 25-year-old Māris Ārgalis. At the time he was one of the most creative artists, who openly provoked the authorities both through his work and personal attitude.

Ārgalis came to the attention of the art world thanks to his surrealist and hyperrealist graphics. His visionary urban-environment plans, photo collages, and spatial objects were just as original, breaking boundaries and pointing towards collaborative art practices. In the “Models” exhibition, the artist playfully turned the surrounding environment into an equal partner in the artwork, involving the viewers and provoking spontaneous actions.

The various segments of the exhibition synthesized into a whole and the artworks “stepped out” from the illusionary world into the physical space. For instance, the graphic works were complemented by spatial-cube modules that the viewers could shift around, thus becoming coauthors of the work. The city landscape visible through the glass of the windows that the graphics were displayed on also became part of the artwork. The photomontage series Bizarred Riga by Ārgalis’s informal Emissionist Group was a rare example of unambiguously critical, ironic commentaries and interpretations of the urban environment in 1970s Latvian art.


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Conceptual Games

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Date: Autumn 1978

Participants: Kazimiera (Kazė) Zimblytė (1933 – 1999), Gediminas Karalius (1942), Petras Mazūras (1949), and Vladas Vildžiūnas (1932)

Organizers: Vladas Vildžiūnas and Marija Ladigaitė (1931)

Location: Vladas Vildžiūnas and Marija Ladigaitė’s studio and the Jeruzalė sculpture garden, Vilnius

In the late 1970s, the house and the studio of the graphic artist Marija Ladigaitė and the sculptor Vladas Vildžiūnas, as well as the adjacent sculpture garden they had founded in the Vilnius suburb of Jeruzalė (Lithuanian for “Jerusalem”), were popular meeting spots for art and culture personalities, who enjoyed the experimental atmosphere of the place. Ladigaitė and Vildžiūnas hosted informal get-togethers and discussions, during which the guests shared the latest news about the trends in Western modern art and new sculpture-casting technologies, exchanged books, and discussed the exhibitions on display in the studio. The core of the Jeruzalė garden consisted of young sculptors who were interested in avant-garde art trends and flocked around the Vildžiūnas couple; on various occasions, representatives of other spheres of culture visited as well. Several actions, known to their participants and viewers as “Conceptual Games,” were organized in the Jeruzalė garden in 1978. During one event, the textile artist Kazimiera (Kazė) Zimblytė and the sculptors Gediminas Karalius, Petras Mazūras, and Vildžiūnas created site-specific installations and presented them to their friends. “Kazė wrapped the old garden in strips of rice paper, Mazūras inflated a giant intestine, Karalius welded an impromptu constructivist figure, while Vladas weaved rope webs in the crotches of the trees,” recalls Ladigaitė.[1] The processes that took place in the Jeruzalė sculpture garden provided an impetus for the emergence of new artistic forms and ideas—primarily in sculpture—but also in other art fields.


[1] “Marija Ladigaitė, grafikė, Vladas Vildžiūnas, skulptorius. Pokalbis” [Conversation with Marija Ladigaitė, the graphic artist, and Vladas Vildžiūnas, the sculptor], in Quiet Modernism in Lithuania, 1962–1982, ed. Elona Lubytė (Vilnius: Lithuanian Art Museum, Contemporary Art Centre), 201-209.


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Čierne diery / Black Holes – situational drama

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Date: 1983–84

Location: Water treatment plant, Vrakuňa near Bratislava, Czechoslovakia

Participants and organizers: Peter Meluzin (b. 1947), Július Koller (1939-2007), Róbert Cyprich (1951-1996), Rudolf Sikora (b. 1946), Dušan Hanák (b. 1938), Radislav Matuštík (1929-2006)

In the early 1980s, Peter Meluzin found a number of different of locations in the urban socialist periphery for his situational actions and dramas. Venues included a gym, a water purification plant, and a bus stop. Meluzin was one of the founders of the Terén action group which was active between 1982–87. (Artprospekt P.O.P.: Ladislav Pagáč/Viktor Oravec/Milan Pagáč, Róbert Cyprich, Ľubomír Ďurček, Michal Kern, Július Koller, Vladimír Kordoš, Matej Krén, Radislav Matuštík, Peter Meluzin, Dezider Tóth, and Jana Želibská). As part of the Terén group, he staged several events between 1983–84 for a limited circle of Bratislava artists in found environments. He used locations such as the partially constructed concrete building that was part of a water treatment plant in the Bratislava suburb of Vrakuňa. By improving and perfecting original scripts for the play and adaptation of the events to the state of completion of this edifice, he created two situational dramas titled Black Holes (Čierne diery / Schwarzes Loch) and Sitting Bull. In the inhuman and desolate spaces of the building, Meluzin staged the drama for participants; the drama presented reflected people’s everyday lives. Participants were left feeling helpless, isolated, and controlled. Meluzin’s events were constructed through participation, often feeling like “out-of-town trips,” similar to events organized by the Moscow Collective Actions Group.

Document: Peter Meluzín: Comments on Black Holes


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