This seminar explores a diverse series of artistic practices from Eastern Europe and the USSR of the 1960s-80s in relation to arguments for the specificity of art produced in the context of ‘actually existing socialism’. We focus on the relevance of the category of the ‘conceptual’ to artistic developments in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Soviet Union. Seminar discussions will examine pathways to process-based work and ephemeral actions in Eastern Europe, artists’ international networks and the relationship of conceptualism to dissent and identity politics. We will consider the impact on culture of the Warsaw Pact troops’ invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and opposition to Soviet rule in the satellite countries in the 1970s, ending with a collective re-evaluation of Boris Groys’s classic account of ‘Moscow Romantic Conceptualism’.
Seminar 1: The Experimental Zeitgeist in Eastern EuropeTue, Oct 10, 20235:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Seminar 2: Conceptualism and DissidenceWed, Oct 11, 20235:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Public Lecture: Thinking Conceptual Art in Eastern Europe and the USSRThu, Oct 12, 20236:00 pm
Klara Kemp-Welch is Reader in 20th Century Modernism at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, where she teaches courses on East European art and Cold War culture. She is the author of Antipolitics in Central European Art. Reticence as Dissidence under Post-Totalitarian Rule 1956-1989 (London: IB Tauris, 2014), Networking the Bloc. Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965-1989 (Cambridge Massachusetts and London, England: MIT Press, 2019) and co-editor of A Reader in East-Central European Modernism 1918-1956 with Beata Hock and Jonathan Owen (London: Courtauld Books Online, 2019). She is currently writing a monograph on contemporary art, migration and mobility in the European Union.
Piotr Piotrowski, ‘How to Write a History of Central-East European Art?’, Third Text, Vol. 23, Issue 1, Jan 2009, pp. 5-14.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, ‘The Good Old Days’, London Review of Books, Vol. 25, no. 19. 9 October 2003.
Klara Kemp-Welch, ‘The Meeting of Czechoslovak and Hungarian Artists’ in Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965-1981 (Cambridge Massachusetts and London, UK: MIT Press, 2018).
Klara Kemp-Welch, ‘Autonomy, Solidarity and the Antipolitics of NET’, in Bozena Czubak (ed.), NET. The Art of Dialogue / NET. Sztuka Dialogu, Warsaw: Fundacja Profil, 2013, pp. 34-56.
David Crowley, ‘Consumer Art and Other Commodity Aesthetics in Eastern Europe under Communist Rule’ in Agata Jakubowska (ed), Natalia LL. Consumer Art and Beyond, (Warsaw, 2017), pp. 129-141.
Bojana Pejic, ‘Proletarians of All Countries, Who washes your socks? Equality Dominance and Difference in Eastern European Art’, in Bojana Pejic (ed.), Gender Check. Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe, Vienna: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, exh. cat., 2010, pp. 19-32