Use your widget sidebars in the admin Design tab to change this little blurb here. Add the text widget to the Blurb Sidebar!

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

Author:
Keywords: , , , , , ,

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.


No Comments »

Presence – performance by Ewa Partum

Author:
Keywords: , ,

Date: 17 November–17 December 1972

Participant and organizer: Ewa Partum

Location: Address Gallery, Łódź

Partum was one of not many women artists in the era of the People’s Republic of Poland interested in the critique of art institutions. The issue manifested itself emphatically in the context of the figure of the artist and of space in 1972, when, at Address Gallery run by her since 1971,[1] she showed Polish (Krzysztof Wodiczko, Zbigniew Warpechowski) and international Conceptual art (for example, Endre Tot, mostly in mail-art forms).

In the performance Presence, as the gallery was open only during the artist’s presence, Partum identified the object of art with its subject. The piece can be viewed as a woman artist’s response to the notions of space and the institution, as a proposal to perceive space through the aspect of the body’s materiality—one of the main elements of the subjective construction. In terms of Conceptual art, Partum’s strategy can be described as breaking with the institution as that which sanctions the object of art, and breaking with the object of art itself as an artwork.


[1] The gallery was functioning till 1977 first located in the Club of Creative Unions based at ZPAP [Association of Polish Artists and Designers], then since March 1973, in the artist’s apartment. In 1971 Partum published a leaflet gallery manifesto that was republished in 1972 in Robotnik Sztuki [Art Worker], an art magazine published by EL Gallery in Elbląg.


No Comments »

The Dialogue – street action for film by Anna Kutera

Author:
Keywords: , , , , ,

Date: 1973

Participant: Anna Kutera

Location: Wrocław

In wintertime the artist engages passersby and provokes very simple interactions with them in busy but not significant places in of Wrocław. The six-minute black-and-white 16 mm silent movie documenting this action is divided into five parts and every one of them is marked by a caption with a slogan describing the artist’s actions. The first étude, “Good morning!,” shows simple welcome signs. The second one, “Presentation,” introduces the viewer to longer conversations (that are not heard) between the artist and the chance acquaintances. We can assume, according to one of the captions, that the artist accosts them, saying, “My name is Anna Kutera. Here is my photo. I am a student of the Fine Arts Academy and just right now I am shooting a movie about how I am introducing myself to you.” After that she hands her portrait photo to everyone. Some of them laugh or smile, some have further questions, but all the interactions are absolutely friendly. Other études are entitled “What time is it?” and “Where is Anna Kutera’s street?” The latter one, the funniest, shows a group of passersby trying to help. The last episode is the most tautological one: it refers mostly to the medium itself. It is entitled “Goodbye!” and we see the artist herself in the similar frame as that of the photo. She smiles, laughs, saying something to the person behind the camera while saying goodbye by a gesture of nodding the head. After cutting, which gives the impression of some rehearsal, we see her now serious, just nodding and turning her back to the camera.

Through the simplest gestures and the category of a chance encounter, the artist asks here about the role of the artist in society and puts the accents not on the art piece itself, but rather on social interactions. Kutera was a member of the Polish group of Contextual artists who participated in the exhibition “Contextual Art” in 1976 in Lund with Jan Świdziński. She also represented the Polish Contextual movement in Toronto at the Center of Experimental Art and Communication, during the meeting and discussion with Joseph Kosuth in 1976.


No Comments »

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

Author:
Keywords: , , , , , , ,

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.


No Comments »

…Time I… and …Time II… – cosmological probes, futurological prognoses / discussion forums and conceptual interventions

Author:
Keywords: , ,

Date: June 1973

Participants: Ján Zavarský (b. 1948), Rudolf Sikora (b. 1946), Miloš Laky (1948–1975), Július Koller (b. 1939), Stano Filko (b. 1937) with Peter Bartoš (b. 1938), Michal Kern (1938–1994), Tomáš Štrauss (1931–2013)

Location: Moravský Kras / Moravian Karst and Studio of Rudolf Sikora, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia

Cosmological visions, meditations on the future of civilization, the implementation of information from the natural sciences, and inquiries into cosmic communications were of great importance for Bratislava-based conceptual artists. Using the medium of offset print, the artists also utilized visual signs, photography, diagrams, scientific ideas, codes, and numerals. In the beginning of 1970s, Rudolf Sikora became acquainted with a samizdat translation titled Limits to Growth, which was edited by Dennis L. Meadows. It was the first publication of its kind to highlight the effects of rapid population growth and limited natural resources. It was Sikora who brought together artists and theoreticians, organized closed discussion forums, and took responsibility for printing large posters of their collective that was composed as a somewhat pseudoscientific cosmological probe and future prognoses. The joint project was spurred by the upcoming congress of speleologists in Brno, and composed as a collection of conceptual interventions in the caves of Moravian Karst.

 


No Comments »

Symposion 74

Author:
Keywords: , , ,

Date: 28 February 1974

Participants and organizers: Peter Bartoš (b. 1938), Róbert Cyprich/Hervé Fischer, Stano Filko (b. 1937)/Miloš Laky (1948–1975)/Ján Zavarský (b. 1948), Vliam Jakubík (b. 1945), Juraj Meliš (b. 1942), Katarína Orlík, Rudolf Sikora (b. 1946), Dezider Tóth (b. 1947), Jana Želibská (b. 1941)

Location: Bratislava

“Symposion 74” was the outcome of meetings held between participants, and took the exhibition-as-poster format, juxtaposing both individual and collective works by “unofficial” Slovak artists. Contributing artists’ work appeared on a poster in a grid format. Often artists worked collaboratively. The contributing artists and the title of their artwork is as follows: Peter Bartoš: Zooparticipations (1974); Róbert Cyprich/Hervé Fischer: Ninnananna, Ružomberok-Paris (1973); Stano Filko/Miloš Laky/Ján Zavarský: A White Space in a White Space (1973–74); Viliam Jakubík, Many Greetings for Poster Collectors (1974); Juraj Meliš: We Think thus We Are (1974); Katarína Orlik: Love (1974); Rudolf Sikora:-5 000 000 000 ? +5 000 000 000 ?, (1974); Dezider Tóth: Realization of Reality (1974); Jana Želibská: The Taste of Paradise, Galerie Jean-Gilbert Jozon, Paris (December 1973).


No Comments »

Natalia! – performance by Natalia LL

Author:
Keywords: , , , , ,


Date: 1975

Participant: Natalia LL

Organizer: Fourth Meeting Festival Art in Belgrade

Location: Turkish Hall, Belgrade

Natalia LL emphasizes the conjunction and disjunction of the work of art’s experience by the viewer and the artist-as-producer. During the performance, an actress read out a text—a “libretto”[1]—which was then repeated by a chorus of university students. LL played the role of the conductor of a spectacle taking place in a room with excellent acoustics: “The impression was extraordinary, because the chanted words were for me a message of the forgotten language of some unknown civilization. The energy of the words blasted in the historic interior.”[2] The gesture was based on a purely intellectual procedure, focused on the analysis of a word—the artist’s name, one of the components of subjectivity: “Treating letters as individual elements, ‘bricks,’ which form words, and changing the order of letters, I used them for constructing new words. In this way the building NATALIA! originated as a result of the multiplication.”[3] What is also interesting here are the games played on the author’s figure in the text, where the subject manifests itself and deconstructs itself through the interventions on its name, and the subjective position taken by the artist on a variety of levels.


[1] Natalia LL, “PERMAFO — SUMA,” in Prace Natalii LL 1970–1973 (Galeria PERMAFO: Wrocław, 1973).

[2] Natalia LL, “Natalia! (1),” trans. K. Bartnik, in Natalia LL, Teksty (Bielska Gallery: Bielsko-Biała, 2004), 290.

[3] Ibid., 285.


No Comments »

The Introduction – performance by Anna Kutera

Author:
Keywords: , , , ,

Date: 1975

Participants: Anna Kutera, Piotr Olszański, Lech Mrożek, Jerzy Olek, Kazimierz Helebrandt, Romuald Kutera (film documentation), Niels Lomholt (Denmark), and anonymous artists from Budapest, Prague, and Zagreb

Organizer: Festival of Students from Baltic Art Schools, “F-ART”

Location: Gdańsk

The performance was presented during the festival. Kutera sat behind a table. She provoked interactions between herself and the nine invited male members, whom she called by their names to take their places by her side. This performance is part of  cycle Stimulated Situations, and it was documented in a photo series and a black-and-white ten-minute 16 mm film (which were shown during the exhibition “Contextual Art” in 1976 in Lund, Sweden). The actions were presented to the viewers only by the mute gestures of Kutera herself or her partners (we always see a one-to-one relation), as well as by the accessories held by the partners. The pretext for this intercourse was the situation of creation portraits of Kutera and showing her through relations with people in different social and cultural roles. But in the images we see her every time in the same place, beside the table. The partners sat on her left. Every meeting lasted only around one minute in silence and action was introduced by Anna in these words: “I am happy to be together with a group who understands the meaning of being together in art and getting to know each other without words.” She describes it as a very difficult emotional situation of intimacy. All encounters seem to be similar, the changes are very subtle—which creates a large field for interpretation and calls the viewer’s attention to compare details and look for a significance, or even giving up when the most important—what happened in the immanency of the space and time in between the social actors—is no longer available to understand.


No Comments »

Exhibitions-Actions by the Group of Six Artists

Author:
Keywords: , , , , , , ,

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)


No Comments »

Event Harku ’75 – Objects, Concepts

Author:
Keywords: , , , , , , ,

Date: 6 – 14 December 1975

Initiators and organizers: Artists Leonhard Lapin (1947), Sirje Runge (1950, at that time Sirje Lapin), Raul Meel (1941), and physicist Tõnu Karu

Participants: Silvi Allik-Virkepuu, Villu Järmut, Toomas Kall, Kaarel Kurismaa, Leonhard Lapin, Raul Meel, Jaan Ollik, Jüri Okas, Illimar Paul, Sirje Runge, Silver Vahtre

Location: The Institute of Experimental Biology in Harku, near Tallinn

Scientific institutions often offered spaces for alternative art exhibitions. Two years earlier, in 1973, another exhibition was held at the Agricultural Research Center in Saku, near Tallinn.

This exhibition is considered to have been the last unofficial show in Soviet Estonia. The exhibition itself, like unofficial shows in general, was eclectic and presented such diverse trends as Pop Art along with the most influential developments in Estonian alternative art since the late 1960s—kinetic objects, concrete poetry, and geometric abstraction. The few surviving photographs documenting the exhibition show a lively, slightly chaotic environment: oversized packets of Georgian tea hang from the ceiling (Jaan Ollik and Villu Järmut); in the middle of the space Sirje Runge’s Altar displays a colorful geometric pattern; nearby is Kaarel Kurismaa “chamber fountain”—a round side table with a cubic basin mounted on its top: etc. At the opening, Mess performed—the first Estonian progressive-rock group, famous for their interdisciplinary approach and collaboration with the artist Kurismaa.

Although the Artists’ Union gave permission for Leonhard Lapin and Raul Meel to present and discuss their work with young scientists—the event was officially announced as a meeting of young artists and junior researchers—the show created a scandal as more artists, mainly graduates of the State Art Institute, were invited.[1]

On the last day of the exhibition a seminar was held with participating artists, physicists, and writers. Being the most relevant tendency in contemporary art, the main topic of discussion was Conceptualism. More generally, issues were raised concerning the role and function of art and artists in society. The significance of this exhibition differentiates it from previous unofficial art shows: rather than being simply the typical compilation of progressive works of varying focus, it aimed to relate art, the role of art, and the changing context of art production.

In his speech, Lapin presented the notion of “objective art” as the future of art practice. Lapin called for a new art of forms based on, and developed in accordance with, contemporary industrial reality and technological progress. For Lapin, changes in the environment (particularly industrialization) and developments in technology would introduce completely new environments and means of production and communication, and had fundamentally changed the concept of art and the role of the artist. The main goal of this new objective art was to create an integrated aesthetic environment. Art was to overcome the boundaries between the various disciplines of painting, sculpture, and architecture, and would encompass a variety of techniques, notably in multimedia and electronics. A year later a compilation of the exhibition presentations was edited and independently published in a typewritten manuscript by Meel titled Let a Man Be.

Only one review of the show was published, in the University of Tartu’s newspaper. The announcement of the opening was published in the weekly cultural newspaper Sirp ja Vasar, causing resentment from the Artists’ Union.


[1] See the records of the session of the Board of the Artists’ Union and the Communist Party unit.  Estonian State Archives (ERA), f 2477, n 15, s 17,1.83.


No Comments »

Appearance – action by the Collective Actions Group

Author:
Keywords: , , , , , , ,

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.


No Comments »

“Strike” by La Galerie des Locataires

Author:
Keywords: , , ,

Date: 1976

Concept by: Ida Biard & La Galerie des Locataires

Can an exhibition take the form of a postcard? For Ida Biard and La Galerie des Locataires (Tenants’ Gallery) postal communication was crucial for establishing networks among artists, critics and curators from Budapest to Canada. Founded in 1972 in the rented Paris apartment of the Zagreb art historian and critic Ida Biard, La Galerie des Locataires (Tenants’ Gallery) was a self-organized curatorial project dedicated to “communicating” the works of artists who, in line with the credo of the new, dematerialized art, privileged “ethics over aesthetics.”1 Artists from all over the world were invited to send their works by mail, to be exhibited in the window of Biard’s apartment, or realized, according to artists’ instructions, in public spaces of different cities, and in the framework of various exhibitions and projects.

La Galerie kept close ties with the Yugoslav art scene, especially through Biard’s collaboration with artist Goran Trbuljak on the French Window project, as well as different programs realized in collaboration with the Student Center galleries of Zagreb and Belgrade. At the same time, based in Paris, Biard collaborated with artists such as Daniel Buren, Annette Messager, Christian Boltanski, and Sarkis, who were to become among the most well-known protagonists of the international art scene.

La Galerie held a strong anti-commercial and anti-establishment stance, and believed in the potential of conceptual art to overcome the material and ideological confines of traditional, bourgeois, object-based art. However, by the mid-1970s, it became clear that the old patterns were only being re-affirmed, with conceptual artists becoming part of the mainstream institutional and commercial art scene. In order to protest this development, Ida Biard sent a card to all the artists she had collaborated with, specifically those in France, declaring a strike and announcing that La Galerie des Locataires would no longer “communicate the so-called works of art” in order to express its  “disagreement with the conduct of artists/so-called dissenters and the avant-garde within the current system of the art market.” 2 Inverting the logic according to which artists are expected to rebel against the system, while curators and critics secure their positions within its hierarchies, here it is the curator/gallerist who protests against the behavior of artists being integrated into the commodity system and betraying the ‘essence’ of conceptual art and their own earlier practice. 3

This gesture of a curator’s strike, of a refusal to exhibit art if that implies perpetuating the status quo, was also an experiment with the form of curatorial communication — the exhibition. Strike could be interpreted as a mail-exhibition, a translation of artists’ usage of post and the emerging “genre” of mail art. Crucial for establishing and maintaining networks, postal communication here served to declare a dissolution of the network, as an expression of protest and, implicitly, a declaration of the failure of “dematerialized” art to radically transform the art system.

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


No Comments »

We Buy and Sell Souls – art action by Komar & Melamid and the Nest Group

Author:
Keywords: , , , , , , , ,

Date: 19 May 1979

Participants: Vitaly Komar (b. 1943), Alexander Melamid (b. 1945) in New York; The Nest Group – Mikhail Roshal (1956-2007), Victor Skersis (b. 1956), and Gennady Donskoi (b. 1956)

Locations: The action took place simultaneously in the studio of Mikhail Odnoralov on Dmitrievskogo Street, Moscow and at the Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York.

The event was initiated by Komar and Melamid, the founders of Sots Art in the early 1970s and teachers of a number younger Moscow Conceptualists, including members of the Nest, who emigrated from the Soviet Union to New York in 1977. One of the newly emigrated artists’ first projects was to establish a company that would buy and sell human souls. They launched an advertising campaign which included posters and print ads. They also took out an advertisement on the Times Square video display, sponsored by the Public Art Fund of New York. Komar & Melamid, Inc. purchased several hundred American souls, including that of American Pop artist Andy Warhol (1928–1987), who donated his soul for free. An advertisement in the New York Times announced “the first auction of un-official American art in the Soviet Union simultaneously in New York and Moscow on Saturday, May 19, 1979, 12:00 p.m. New York Time.” A heated auction took place in Mikhail Odnoralov’s apartment, where the soul of American collector of nonconformist Soviet art Norton T. Dodge (1927–2011) drew particularly heated bids; Warhol’s soul sold for thirty rubles. The customers who attended included the poet Genrikh Sapgir (1928–1999), art historian and collector Tatiana Kolodzei (b. 1947), and Anatoly Lepin (b. 1944). Artists who attended included Alena Kirtsova (b. 1954), Vadim Zakharov (b. 1959), and Yuri Albert (b. 1959).


No Comments »

Lines – exhibition curated by Branka Stipančić

Author:
Keywords: , , , , ,

Date: December 1979

Curated by: Branka Stipančić

Participants: Željko Jerman, Željko Kipke, Antun Maračić, Marijan Molnar, Goran Petercol, Darko Šimičić, Raša Todosijević

Location: Podroom—the Working Community of Artists, Mesnička 12, Zagreb

“Lines” was the second curatorial concept the art historian Branka Stipančić presented at Podroom (Basement)—the Working Community of Artists in Zagreb. Podroom, a self-organized artist space that existed between 1978 and 1980, brought together Zagreb artists associated with the “new art practice” (conceptual, performative, and process-based art of the late 1960s and ’70s in Yugoslavia).1 Most exhibitions and events were organized by artists. The two exhibitions organized by Stipančić in 1979—“Values” and “Lines”—were exceptional. They were the first two curated projects by Stipančić, a then emerging art critic and curator. For both projects, she was concerned with finding an appropriate mode of exhibition that would communicate the basic problems and meaning of the new Conceptual art to the public.

In particular, “Lines” was conceived explicitly as a didactic exhibition. In the introductory text of the accompanying catalogue, Stipančić states that she is exhibiting a “method,” a particular mode that would enable those unfamiliar with the “new art” to understand its radical departure from traditional ways of making art.2 By showing the exhibition in Podroom, the curator admitted that she was preaching to the converted, and that the exhibition would better achieve its didactic purpose in another space, such as a university.

But how was this lesson delivered (i.e., curated)? All works included in the exhibition involved a single element: a straight line drawn on a flat plane. This uniform visual identity was chosen, on the one hand, for its simplicity and the narrow range of metaphorical implications it potentially draws, and on the other, because it exposed the inadequacy and absurdity of the method of conventional formal analysis when applied to the new art. Stipančić elaborated, with humor, the likely results of such a conventional reading, if applied to the works she presented:

“By selecting artworks that resemble one another, what is revealed is the absurdity of the attempt to read the ‘new artistic practice’ by means of the existing formal, aesthetic, value-based criteria of traditional art criticism and theory. If we would proceed by such method, here we would find ten (and more, because these are merely examples) of the same visual contributions, i.e., a multitude of plagiarisms, pointing to a troubling tendency among young artists, who would seem to have found their expression in drawing and exhibiting lines.”3

Instead, new art required new tools of critical interpretation, as well as new methods of curation. Stipančić showed that the same visual element—a straight line—was in fact not at all the same, but acquired new meaning in each artistic iteration, with each change of idea, motivation, process, and context. Ultimately, what was revealed was not the work as a mere visual and aesthetic fact but “the work as a specific system within the system of art and society.”4 In order to make this as explicit as possible, Stipančić decided to exhibit each of the artworks with an accompanying text written by the artist to explain the particular concepts, processes, and intended meanings pertaining to the work. The most comprehensive and theoretical text “What Are Lines?” (1977) by Raša Todosijević explained the artist’s continuous engagement with the line-form since 1973, as a way to question “art by means of art.” Stipančić’s concept could be considered a translation of Todosijević’s artistic process into a curatorial one, into questioning the meaning and function of exhibition by means of exhibition.

Document: Branka Stipančić: Lines (1979)

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


1 For an account of Podroom, see Ivana Bago,  “A Window and a Basement: Negotiating Hospitality at La Galerie Des Locataires and Podroom—the Working Community of Artists,” ARTMargins, vol. 1, no. 2–3 (June–October 2012):116–46.

2 Branka Stipančić, Lines, exhibition catalogue (Zagreb: Podroom, 1979).

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.


No Comments »

New Art = New Tradition: The exhibition Against Art by Goran Djordjević

Author:
Keywords: , , , ,

Date: 29 January – 5 February, 1980

Participant: Goran Đorđević and the most famous artists and artworks presented within Short History of Art

Location: SKC, Belgrade

Exhibition Against Art is organized in Student Cultural Centre in 1980, a year after Goran Djordjević’s call for The International Strike of Artists “against art system’s unbroken repression of the artists and the alienation from the results of their work”, in which he suggested the radical halting of art production on an international level. The exhibition Against Art was opened with the following statement:

A work of art expresses, among other things, certain attitude towards art. The works showed at this exhibition are not works of art. They are only attitudes towards art. More precisely, they are attitudes against art. I think it’s high time to tear the powdered mask of freedom and humanism of art and reveal its proper face – the face of faithful and humble servant.

Against Art is one of first conceptual exhibitions (or artistic statement in the form of exhibition) in former Yugoslavia. It is composed as the collection of peculiar artifacts:

1. The painting Harbingers of Apocalypse (the first painting by artist Goran Djordjević from 1969, that one he was ashamed of for a long time);

2. Series of Preparatory Drawings for the Harbingers of Apocalypse (what is significant is that these are made 10 years after the painting itself);

3. Series of Marginal Drawings (scribbles over mathematical formulas that Djordjević wrote on his Technical Science Studies in Belgrade 1970s);

4. The Short History of Art – series of copies of famous art historical moments (pencil on paper), from cave paintings to Joseph Beuys performances;

5. Minimalist sculptural object with the kitsch reproduction on its back titled The Self-Portrait With The Model.

Exhibition Against Art can be interpreted as the project of liquidation of the last remnants of “transcendental” (imaginary and physical) experience of art, including the leftovers of representation, style, individuality, craft, even of the fetish of idea characteristic for the production of value in art itself. Reasons for this liquidation are many, and can be found in historical, institutional, artistic and personal domains of life and work. The exhibition is performed according to the philosophical strategy of “immanent critique” – as an analysis of cultural forms, which locates and presents contradictions in the rules and systems necessary to the production of those forms. Contrasted with “transcendental” observations of art (and including the recent Conceptual Art production among this “classical” forms of art), the exhibition plays with critical contextualization of both: of Art as the object of its investigation, and of the ideological basis of that object presented in the historical perspective.

Exhibition Against Art is also the first project of Djordjević’s “radical copyism”, based on idea that copy can become more significant that the original, since it contains all of the visual information as presented in the original, but also points to the story to which the original belongs and through which it was being made.

Exhibition Against Art have been reprised in the Gallery of Student Cultural Centre – Belgrade in 2011 as part of the retrospective exhibition “Against art – Goran Djordjevic: Copies 1979–1985” curated by Branislav Dimitrijević, Dejan Sretenović and Jelena Vesić, and produced by Museum of Contemporary Art – Belgrade.


No Comments »