Dissecting Dissent and its Discontents
This review of Antipolitics in Central European Art: Reticence as Dissidence under Post-Totalitarian Rule 1956–1989 by Klara Kemp-Welch situates the book in the existing literature and discussions of post-war unofficial art in Central Europe and assesses the book’s significant contributions, which include a transnational approach, an extensive analysis of six oeuvres created by unofficial artists through their socio-political contexts, and a rigorous interpretive framework built around the titular concept of “antipolitics,” which Kemp-Welch borrows from the Hungarian dissident writer György Konrád. The review, however, also suggests that applying a framework rooted in the writings of political dissidents to unofficial art risks reducing complex and ambiguous works too much to local politics and thus reinforcing Cold War assumptions about art from the former East.
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