Synopses & Reviews
Performance art in the West has developed in part as a response to the commercialization of the art object. But what are the roots of performance art in Eastern Europe and Russia, where there was no real art market to speak of? While Western performance artists of the late 20th century aimed to create works that could not be bought or sold, performances in the communist bloc in the absence of an art market, more often took the form of social critique. Instead of creations that questioned what the art object is, their work often related to local issues within the context of late- or post-socialism. By placing these performances both within a local and international context, this book pinpoints the nuances between performance art East and West.
Post-Socialist performance art in Russia, Poland, and Latvia is examined for the first time as agent and chronicle of the transition from Soviet states to free-market democracies. Drawing upon previously unpublished sources and exclusive interviews with the artists themselves, Amy Bryzgel explores the spontaneous theater of the period from Oleg Kulik's Russian Dog performances to Miervaldis Polis's The Bronze Man and Vladislav Mayhshev's Monroe. Bryzgel demonstrates that performativity in Eastern Europe went beyond the modernist critique to express ideas outside the official discourse, shocking and empowering the citizenry in the truest avant-garde tradition. Performing the East open the way to an urgent reassessment of the history, function, and influence of performance art.
Performance art has developed generally as a response to thecommercialization of art, in an attempt to create art objects that would exist beyond the possibility of being a part of the market. Butwhat about Eastern European/Soviet Bloc countries, in which art was defined as a non-commercial endeavor by its very nature, by thefundamental ideology of the state? One would think that performance art would not exist under such conditions, and yet it did, but in avery different context which determined its divergent purpose, if not form. This is the first study analyzing the phenomenon ofperformance art in Russia, Latvia and Poland in the late Brezhnev years and the transitional decade after. Three major works arediscussed, one from each of the countries, drawing on the previously unpublished sources and interviews with the artists themselves. Thecontext of such art in the Soviet bloc was political rather than commercial, and rather than rejecting the market, these works servedas criticisms of existing political--and cultural--practices, helping introduce previously unheard-of concepts into the cultural mainstream.
Distributed in North America by Palgrave Macmillan.Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
About the Author
Amy Bryzgel is Lecturer in History of Art, University of Aberdeen.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Performance Art and the East * Performance and the East: Artistic Production in Communist Eastern Europe and Russia * Afrika, The Russian Dog and Marilyn Monroe: Performing Identity in Post-Soviet Russia * The Bronze Man and the Homeless Man: Performing Appearance in Latvia * From Young Girls to Men in Bathhouses: Performing Gender in Poland * Conclusion: Performance Art East and West