Tagged: Czechoslovakia

An installation view of a museum with white walls and a glossy gray floor. We are looking into a broad corner of the museum, and in the space we see three-dimensional displays of textile works, some mounted on rectangular frames. The works are brightly colored, with a combination of organic, wavy patterns and (in the work furthest from us) silhouettes that recall rockets or spaceships. There is also a video monitor mounted on the raised floor section closest to us.

Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc 1960s-1980s

Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc 1960s-1980s, at Walker Art Center, November 11, 2023 – March 10, 2024; Phoenix Art Museum, April 17, 2024 – September 15, 2024; and Vancouver Art Gallery, December 14, 2024 – April 21, 2025

Thirty-two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the exhibition Multiple Realities offers a geographically expansive introduction to the creative autonomy that existed behind the Iron Curtain. To the average—which is to say non-specialist—viewer, Multiple Realities provides an intelligible, though not altogether nuanced, view of the Cold War East as a space ruled by ideological inflexibility. Nevertheless, … Read more

Photography: The Lingua Franca of Performance Art?

As Michelle Henning points out in her book Photography: The Unfettered Image (2018), “from its inception, photography was a means to set images free, to allow them to go traveling, to transfer, to be projected, translated, fragmented, reconstituted and reversed, to be reimagined and re-embodied.”(Michelle Henning, Photography: The Unfettered Image (New York: Routledge, 2018), p. xi.) How does this perspective contribute to understanding the medium beyond its treatment in art museums, which usually emphasize uniqueness and authorship? How does highlighting the concept of images as “migratory, journeying, wandering and vagabond”(Henning, p. 8.) alter our approach towards … Read more

We Do Not Know Ourselves: How Global South Filmmakers Exposed Racism in Czechoslovakia

The documentary film Black and White (1968) begins with a scene in which a small child marvels at the skin color of an adult African. The child asks: “Are you really so dirty?”, and concludes with the words, “You’re black. What’s your name?” The little girl is curious and in her ignorance she symbolizes the protagonist of the film – Czechoslovak society confronted with the racialized other. The voiceover in the film speaks on behalf of Czechoslovak society. However, the creator of this documentary is not a Czechoslovak citizen, but Krishna Viswanath. Born in Calcutta, Viswanath studied at university in … Read more

postcard image

Forms of Involvement: The Czechoslovakian Artists’ Union and Its 1964 Congress

During the past decade, contemporary artists in Central and Eastern Europe have renewed their interest in Artists’ Unions, and have begun to self-organize.(This article is based on a study by Johana Lomová and Karel Šima, “Sjezd Svazu československých výtvarných umělců v roce 1964. Poznámky k úspěšnosti performance,” (The Conference of the SČSVU in 1964. Notes on the Success of One Performance) in Umění a revoluce (Art and Revolution), ed. Johana Lomová and Jindřich Vybíral (Praha: UMPRUM 2017), 512–545.) After years of what scholar Piotr Piotrowski termed “anti-communism,”(Piotr Piotrowski, Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe (London: Read more