Contested Spheres: Actually Existing Artworlds under Socialism

2016-05-27 - 2016-05-28

Kassák Múzeum


International conference. Kassák Museum, Budapest. 27-28 May 2016

The conference on Contested Spheres: Actually Existing Artworlds under Socialism provides a platform for fresh research into the art history of Eastern Europe that brings to light the varied solutions that artists and cultural workers found to living and working inside the socialist system in the period of the 1960s and 1970s. Like the majority of citizens of „actually existing Socialism”, artists, curators and art historians devised their own individual strategies for negotiating a haphazardly repressive system and actively participated in shaping a complex artistic landscape of alternative spaces, transitory gatherings and artist-run galleries which all functioned according to the unorthodox rules of the socialist art economy. Examining the variety of possible attitudes adopted by cultural producers to the socialist system that ranged from confrontation and withdrawal to conformity and compromise, this conference sets out to foster debate about the conditions of artistic production under Socialism and how these affected the individual trajectories, aesthetic choices and post-communist legacies of East European artists.  

Speakers include: Susanne Altmann (art historian and curator, Dresden), Hana Buddeus (Academy of Performing Arts, Prague), Mikolaj Czerwinski (University of Illinois, Chicago), Eva Forgacs (Art Center College of Design, Pasadena), Daniel Grun (Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava), Candice M. Hamelin (University of Michigan), Marko Ilić (Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Raino Isto (University of Maryland), Yulia Karpova (Central European University, Budapest), Zsuzsa László (, Budapest), Armin Medosch (artist, curator and scholar, Vienna), Helena Musilová (National Gallery of Art, Prague), Tomáš Pospiszyl (Academy of Fine Arts, Prague), Alina Șerban (National University of Arts, Bucharest), Sonja Simonyi (New York University) and Tomasz Załuski (University of Łódz).

The conference is co-organised by Kassák Múzeum – Petőfi Literary Museum and Translocal Institute of Contemporary Art and takes place within the framework of the Kassák Museum’s on-going research project into the art of the 1960s and 70s, led by Kassák Múzeum director, Edit Sasvári.

The conference board members are Dr. Maja Fowkes and Dr. Reuben Fowkes, Translocal Institute, Budapest, Dr. Klara Kemp Welch, Courtauld Institute London, Dr. Emese Kürti, ACB Research Lab, Budapest and Dr.Tomáš Pospiszyl, Academy of Fine Arts, Prague.


Conference programme

Friday 27 May

9.00     Registration

9.30     Introduction to Contested Spheres
Maja and Reuben Fowkes, Translocal Institute, Budapest

9.45     Edit Sasvári, Director Kassák Museum Budapest
The Goals of the Kassák Museum Research Project

10.00   Panel 1

Tomáš Pospiszyl, Academy of Fine Arts, Prague
Olbram Zoubek, Sculptor in Public Service: 
A Case Study in Art Making during Socialism

Raino Isto, University of Maryland
The Dictator Visits the Studio: Enver Hoxha's Letter to the 
"Monumental Trio" and the Politics of Socialist Albanian
Sculpture in the 1960s and 70s

Kassák Museum 1960s-70s Research Group: 5' Position Papers

Lóránt Bódi, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Deals and Positions: The Role of Western Emigré 
Artists in the Cultural Policy of the Kádár Era

Júlia Perczel, Kassák Museum Research Group
Working and Living in Connectivity: Intentions, Patterns 
and Strategies of Networking within the Cultural Field of
Hungary in the 1960s-70s

Gábor Dobó and Merse Pál Szeredi, Kassák Museum
Hungarian Culture ± Europe: Positions Between East and West 
in the Self-Image of Hungarian Art (1918-1979)

Sándor Hornyik, Institute for Art History, Budapest
Reforming Socialist Realism: Different Encounters of
Eastern Modernization and Western Modernism

11.30    Coffee break

12.00    Panel 2

Mikolaj Czerwinski, University of Illinois, Chicago
"An Intelligent, Complex, and Human Design Project":
Social Engagement in State Socialism during the 1960s

Armin Medosch, artist, curator and scholar, Vienna
Cutting the Networks - The Final Years of New Tendencies

13.00    Lunch break

14.00    Panel 3

Tomasz Załuski, University of Łódz
KwieKulik and the Political Economy of the Potboiler

Daniel Grúň, Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava
Amateurism under Socialism

Helena Musilová, National Gallery of Art, Prague
Jiří Valoch and the "Position" of Curator in Brno, Czechslovakia
in 1970s: the Official Curator and Unofficial Artistic Scene

15.30    Coffee break

16.00    Panel 4

Susanne Altmann, art historian and curator, Dresden
Geometry as Crime: Concrete Art, Geometrical Abstraction, 
Minimalism and their Strategies of Surviving in Eastern Germany

Eva Forgacs, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena
"Art Has Become a Character Issue", Péter Donáth, and the 
Price of Independence in 1960s and 1970s Hungary

Sonja Simonyi, New York University
Dark Angel, Secret Agent: Avant-garde Film Cultures, Artist
Communities, and Networks of State Control in 1970s 
Socialist Hungary

17.30    End


Saturday 28 May

9.30     Registration

10.00   Panel 5

Marko Ilić, Courtauld Institute of Art, London
"A Taster of Political Insult": The Case of Novi Sad's Youth Tribune

Hana Buddeus, Academy of Performing Arts, Prague
From an Open Hand to a Closed Fist: Petr Štembera's Artist Networks

Kassák Museum 1960s-70s Research Group: 5' Position Papers

Emese Kürti, ACB Research Lab, Budapest
Poetry in Action. Language as a Medium in the Hungarian

Katalin Székely, PhD candidate, Eötvös Loránd University
The Influx of Images. Photo, Experimental Film and Video Art
in the Hungarian Neo-Avantgarde

Dávid Fehér, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 
(Dis)figuring Reality. New Forms of Figuration in
Hungarian Painting

Dániel Véri, PhD candidate, Eötvös Loránd University
Conflicting Narratives. Jewish Identity and the Holocaust

11.30    Coffee break

12.00    Panel 6

Candice M. Hamelin, University of Michigan
Alternative Sites: East Germany's Illustrated Magazines

Yulia Karpova, Central European University, Budapest
Decorative Art as a Space of Personal Freedom: Creative 
Strategies within Official Soviet Institutions, 1960s-1970s

13.00    Lunch break

14.00    Panel 7

Zsuzsa László,, Budapest
Exhibition as a Diplomatic Tool 

Alina Șerban, National University of Arts, Bucharest 
Negotiating Spaces: From Art to Pedagogy and Back to Nature

15.00   Roundtable discussion

Moderator: Reuben Fowkes 

Participants: Maja Fowkes (Translocal Institute), Beata Jablonska (Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava), Klara Kemp-Welch (Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Zsolt Petrányi (Hungarian National Gallery), Tomáš Pospiszyl (Academy of Fine Arts, Prague) and Edit Sasvári (Kassák Museum, Budapest)

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