Wojciech Zamecznik Collection at Archeology of Photography Foundation
Wojciech Zamecznik's collection represents the early stage of Polish school of poster design. Zamecznik himself has an interesting biography - ex-Auschwitz prisoner, active member of Association of Polish Artists and Designers, who created posters for artistic and political purposes. The collection shows the tension between the official language of socialist posters and private photographs, more intimate and portraying the everyday life.
The Istrian Fighter Digital Collection is available at the University Library of Pula website. It is the collection of the first Croatian youth journal Istrian Fighter/IBOR, which was published in Pula from 1953 to 1979 (with two minor interruptions). The journal was published by the Istrian Fighter Literary Club with the objective of preserving the Croatian language in Istria. The journal developed a reputation as a critical media in the 1970s, covering more and more cultural, local and social themes whose tone was not well-received by the socialist authorities, so the financing of the journal was cancelled in 1979 after which it ceased publication.
In a cooperation with other artists, the song theatre group “Karl’s Enkel” performed their programme “Hammer-Rehwü” for the first time in 1982 in Berlin. Apart from countless buffooneries and poetry, it also contained “jaunty songs about the present” as Jürgen Schebera described it in his contemporary critique (http://www.hdjt.org/hammerrehwue/). Behind the scenes, there had been a back-and-forth between cultural officials because the performance was seen as disparaging the “values of socialism”. The Archive for Song and Social Movements has collected countless materials about it, including video recordings of the performance.
Kazimiera Zimblytė's Balta kompozicija (White Composition)
Kazimiera Zimblytė's Balta kompozicija (White Composition)
Kazimiera Zimblytė was one of the first creators of abstract paintings in Lithuania. She broke with the tradition of painting based on the figure and narrative. In her work, Zimblytė looked at the understanding, perception and feeling of what is outside material and actual things, beyond material existence. In this specific painting (1978), the artist created the feeling that the object has stopped and is hanging on.
Tomasz Konart's "Conversation and Photography" Documentation
Tomasz Konart's "Conversation and Photography" Documentation
In 1978, Tomasz Konart invited Tomasz Sikorski to have a talk about independent galleries. The condition of the talk was that both participants had to take ten photographies of the interlocutor. The very photographies are the only evidence of the conversation. Also, the time of the discussion was strictly fixed to 30 minutes.The documentation of the action Conversation and Photography was published in the catalog of the P.O. Box 17 Gallery. The catalog was edited by both Sikorski and Konart in 1979. It was made of the loose pages of A4 format. One of the pages showed exactly the action carried on by Konart. The work is a proper example of both the ephemeral nature of the neo-avant-garde art and its intellectual ambitions to analyze its own status.
National Film Archive - Audiovisual Institute Collection
National Film Archive - Audiovisual Institute Collection
National Film Archive - Audiovisual Institute is a state institution founded in 1955 and led by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Its main aim is to preserve the Polish cinematographic heritage and to disseminate the film culture. The National Film Archive consists of all sorts of materials of Polish and foreign cinema production: audiovisual materials, photographs, posters, screenplays, and reviews (both press reviews and censorship decisions).
Erdély, Miklós. Poetry as a Self Assembling System, 1973....
Erdély, Miklós. Poetry as a Self Assembling System, 1973. Work of art
Miklós Erdély’s work Poetry as a Self-Assembling System reflects on the question of self-organizational systems through the example of poetry which was first exhibited at the exhibition Szövegek / Texts organized at the Chapel Studio in 1973. The work, which consists of six photos and five sheets of texts (referring to poetry as a formal and semantical system which is capable of (re)creating itself and being formulated without human intervention), can be considered a message of a world concept or a lesson on the technique of living. “Objects and texts, etc. such as molecules […] find their »geometrical places« in a poetical meaning.” The concept of applying the idea of self-assembling to social systems and everyday processes became particularly important for György Galántai during the time of his retribution after the Chapel Studio was closed by force. In 1994, which was dedicated to the oeuvre of Miklós Erdély at Artpool, Galántai organized the event Self-Assembling Afternoons as an homage to Erdély.
A collection of works of naive art on political and socio-critical topics, created by the amateur artist Paul Kondas. Paintings depicting these themes in Estonian history were not allowed during the Soviet period.
The Sirje Kiin private archive was formed as the result of the professional and creative activities of the journalist, literary scholar and critic Sirje Kiin (b. 1949). It includes material from the early 1960s to the early 2000s. Its most valuable parts are the very extensive correspondence with many cultural figures of the day, and diaries in which, among other things, the cultural and political climate of the 'hot' autumn of 1980 is described. Starting with protests by youth against the russification policies, and the suppression of these protests by the security forces, it led to the writing of a famous letter by 40 intellectuals, an open letter from Soviet Estonian cultural figures protesting against the increasing russification.
Zoltán Kallós’s Ethnographic Collection constitutes one of the most successful individual attempts at saving folk culture. This collection of material and spiritual items was carried out with the purpose of preserving not only the Hungarian cultural heritage, but also the ethnical diversity of the Transylvanian Plain (CâmpiaTransilvaniei in Romanian; Mezőség in Hungarian), as well as the collective identity of the Roman Catholic population of Moldavian Csángós. The collector successfully defied the political practice of the Romanian communist regime that aimed at socially and culturally homogenising Romania.
This ad-hoc collection comprises a series of archival materials relating to the activity of the musical band Noroc (officially known as the Noroc Vocal-Instrumental Ensemble). This group of young musicians reached the peak of its popularity during the period 1968–1970. Noroc represented one of the most important examples of an alternative musical style and subculture not only in the Moldavian SSR, but also at the all-Union level. Its members practised an original genre mixing local folkloric elements and Western influences (mostly jazz, rock, and beat). Due to the ”subversive” character of their music, the band was dissolved by the Soviet Moldavian authorities in September 1970. The materials in this collection were selected from Fonds No. 51 (Fonds of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Moldavia), which is currently held in the Archive of Social-Political Organisations (AOSPRM) of the Republic of Moldova. These documents reflect the emergence of a mass youth subculture in the USSR in the late 1960s and the ideological constraints placed by the regime on such displays of an alternative lifestyle.
The Pavao Tijan Collection is deposited in the Archives of the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts in Zagreb. It demonstrates the cultural-oppositional activities of the Croatian émigré Pavao Tijan, who lived in Madrid after the Second World War. There, Tijan organized anti-communist activities against the Yugoslav regime and also against global communism during the time of the Cold War. This collection is very important to the little known Croatian cultural history of the émigré colony of Spain.
Jan Zahradníček Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
Jan Zahradníček Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
The Jan Zahradníček Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature is an important resource documenting the literary and Catholic opposition to the communist regime in post-war Czechoslovakia. It includes Jan Zahradníčekʼs poetry manuscripts, written illegally in the 1950s, in Pankrác Prison.
Photo series of spontaneous actions at the chapel: Once we went, May, 1972 (Photo: Dóra Maurer, participants: Miklós Erdély, György Jovánovics, Tamás Szentjóby, Tibor Gáyor)
“There was a grid put across the chapel door, originally from a fence, but applied horizontally and not vertically. Jován stood on it, and the others automatically began to find their places, too. Szentjóby lay down on a branch and stuffed his long hair into his shirt, so his hair was not floating like Jován’s in the photo. Erdély placed himself in the door, bent over, as if he had been glancing out from there, while Tibor lay on the ground, as if that had been another direction, too, and only the smoke of his cigarette revealed which direction was up. Erdély held up a poppy and said that if we photographed it, it might look as if it were the chapel bell. Then they were jumping down from a bench, Erdély, Tibor, and I think Jován, too, as if they were jumping on top of the Badacsony, i.e. as if they had been touching the mountain with the shape of their bodies.” (Dóra Maurer, 1998)
The rich family collection of photos, papers, books, videos, and other documents left behind by Árpád Göncz provides extraordinary insights into the long history of democratic and patriotic movements in Hungary. The collections play an important role in preserving the memories of the 1956 Revolution and the democratic and liberal traditions of Hungary.
The painting dates back to the approximately ten-year-long existence of the Zugló Circle, specifically, to the years when its members were influenced by the French abstract expressionism. This period is a brief but important manifestation of Art Informel in Hungary. The trend emphasizing the freedom of expression had special significance in the Hungarian context in the early sixties because it opposed the socialist realist aesthetic principles prescribed by the cultural policy of the Kádár regime. Taking sides with the autonomy of art had a political undertone, which was an important feature not only of the neo-avantgarde endeavours in Hungary but also in other parts of Central and Eastern Europe.
The painting is also important from the perspective of exhibition history because it was displayed at the Zugló Circle's exhibition ÚT – Új Törekvések in 1966, which was banned by the Lectorate of the Fine and Applied Arts immediately after the opening. The exhibition was organized at the airport (MALÉV KISZ Club) and included works by Imre Bak, Pál Deim, Tamás Galambos, Endre Hortobágyi, László Lakner, Sándor Molnár and István Nádler. The unusual site was chosen because it would not have been possible to organize an exhibition at an official venue, especially after the group’s banned exhibition at the Academy’s KISZ Club in 1963.
The founder of the Folk Dance House Movement was Béla Halmos. Halmos, as a musician, a folklorist, an instructor, an organizer and the leader of the Hungarian revival movement, supported the Hungarian folk culture and Dance House Movement. The Folk Dance House Archives started to function in 1999. The root of the Archives was the private collection of Béla Halmos, and it continuosly grew thanks to gifts and donations.
The collection presents photos and other documentation of the annual activity of Gallery P.O. Box 17, run by Tomasz Sikorski and Tomasz Konart from the beginning of 1979 to November of the same year. This gallery was a continuation of the activities of the Mospan Gallery, closed in December 1978. It had no localization - it only had a mailbox. Gallery, by courtesy, were using the space of Dziekanka Students' Art Center and Stodoła Club. At the same time, Sikorski and Konart planned to use the form of mail art. The collection, preserved and developed by Sikorski, is a unique testimony, characteristic for neo-avant-garde art in Poland in the late 1970s.
Ladislav Mňačko Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
Ladislav Mňačko Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
The collection of Ladislav Mňačko (1919–1994), a Slovak writer and former prominent Czechoslovak journalist, consists of unique correspondence, manuscripts, prints and clippings which help to describe the life of this significant writer, who after August 1968 was a critic of the communist regime and a representative of Czechoslovak exile literature.
For the Democratization of Art Collection at the Museum o...
For the Democratization of Art Collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb
The For the Democratization of Art Collections contains six photographs representing the activist work (i.e. performances) of the Croatian conceptual artist Marijan Molnar from 1979 to 1983. The work consists of a series of performances in which the author drew graffiti and hung banners with the message "For the Democratization of Art" in Zagreb, Belgrade and Ljubljana, collected signatures for a 'petition' on Republic Square in Zagreb, had his picture taken dressed as a terrorist for the student newspaper and presented an installation at the Koprivnica Gallery. Through this work, Molnar tried to point out the influence of politics on art in socialist Yugoslavia, at the same time seeking freedom of action for artists.
By means of the concert posters that he kept, Mihai Manea’s collection documents the coordinates of alternative musical culture in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly the jazz, rock, and folk genres. In communist Romania, these Western-inspired genres were permitted in the public space with considerable reservations and suspicion, given that they contravened the “Theses of July 1971” by which Nicolae Ceauşescu had imposed the re-autochthonizing of culture and the arts.
The Nelu Stratone collection is one of the most impressive collections of rock, jazz, and folk records created in communist Romania, as a result of the happy combination between its owner’s exceptional passion for alternative music and his ability to acquire records that were not imported officially. The collection is important not only for its size, but even more for the significant number of albums of Western provenance, which were unavailable in shops in Romania but could nevertheless be obtained due to the existence of an alternative market for such products. The creation and preservation of such a collection were activities regarded with suspicion by the communist authorities in Romania, because they proved the younger generation’s fascination with Western cultural products, in contravention of the spirit of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Theses of July 1971.
“An Open Letter to the Yugoslav Public” was sent on 12 February 1971 and was signed by individual members of The Group for New Arts – February and KÔD from Youth Tribune: Branko Andrić, Slavko Bogdanović, Čedomir Drča, Janez Kocijančić, Vladimir Kopicl, Božidar Mandić, Miroslav Mandić, Mirko Radojičić, Ana Raković, Dušan Sabo, Slobodan Tišma, Vujica Rešin Tucić, Peđa Vranešević and Miša Živanović. A copy of the letter is in the possession of Slavko Bogdanović.This event was followed by strong media repression. Authorities in the cultural sphere who were party functionaries were ordered to criticize the artists in the sharpest possible manner. In Pantelić’s opinion, some of the artists of the time even repressed their memories of these events to such a degree that they do not even remember being a part of avantgarde groups.
Concert of the rock band Azra in Gospić, 1978. Photo
Concert of the rock band Azra in Gospić, 1978. Photo
The photo shows the first line-up of the band Azra in Gospić in October 1978. The concert was part of the first tour of Azraorganized by Polet. The first line-up consisted of Branimir Johnny Štulić, Jura Stublić, Marino Pelajić, Branko Hromatko and Mladen Max Juričić. In 1979, Jura Stublić, Marino Pelajić and Mladen Max Juričić left Azraand founded the group Film. With Azrasoon reformed by Johnny Štulić, the group Filmbecame one of the leaders of the new wave scene not only in Zagreb but also throughout Yugoslavia.
After the strike in Gdansk in August and September 1980 and the establishment of the Solidarity trade union, which meant the beginning of the fall of communism in Poland, Štulić wrote the song "Poland in my heart." It expresses explicit support to events in Poland, and mentions Wojtyla, i.e. Pope John Paul II. Among the young people in Yugoslavia, this song was perceived as a call to freedom from communism and cultural disagreement with the older generation who were in the Party.
After one concert and eight studio albums, Azra broke up in 1990. After several changes in the original line-up, group Filmcontinued to perform and still plays today under the name Jura Stublić & Film.
The temporary collection "Forms of Resistance" is dedicated to the artistic opposition against the communist regime in Bulgaria from 1944 to 1985. The exhibition highlights different forms of repression against particular artists at particular moments during the period of state socialism. It also shows the active role of some painters, as well as their forms of resistance against the dogmas of Socialist Realism and against ideological guidance. The upper time limit is the beginning of the perestroika in the Soviet Union, which marks the beginning of the final disintegration of the system of state socialism, also with regard to the political control of arts.
Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Litera...
Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Literary Language, 1967. Typescript
The Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Literary Language was proclaimed by Croatian linguists published in the weekly Telegram on March 17, 1967, with the signatures of eighteen Croatian scholarly and cultural institutions. Croatian linguists and writers gathered around Matica hrvatska and the Association of Writers of Croatia were dissatisfied with published dictionaries and orthographies in which the language, according to the Novi Sad Agreement (1954), was called Serbo-Croatian. In late 1966 and early 1967, they had decided to write an amendment to the new Constitution which was being prepared in the late 1960s. They secretly prepared a text about the name and status of the language that was officially used in the Socialist Republic of Croatia (SRH) as part of the then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). The text of the Declaration was drafted in Matica hrvatska's premises by a group of academics, literary and cultural workers (Miroslav Brandt, Dalibor Brozović, Radoslav Katičić, Tomislav Ladan, Slavko Mihalić, Slavko Pavešić, Vlatko Pavletić). The Steering Committee of Matica hrvatska approved the content of the Declaration on March 13, 1967, and sent it to other Croatian cultural and academic institutions. In the next few days, the Declaration was signed by a total of eighteen Croatian academic and cultural institutions which directly dealt with the Croatian language, and by a significant number of prominent intellectuals.
The publication of the Declaration was not only a cultural but also a political affair. It had additional weight because of Miroslav Krleža, probably the most prominent left-wing intellectual not only in Croatia but all of Yugoslavia, was one of the intellectuals who signed the document. Despite the fact that the writers of the Declaration were cautious in attempting to avoid any boundaries set by the League of Communists (they used the usual communist phraseology and the style of "self-managing socialism" and the Yugoslav slogan of "fraternity and unity"), the publication of the Declaration triggered strong political reactions and set the repressive apparatus in motion. The Croatian language was a litmus test through which the overall economic, political and cultural subordination of Croatia within Yugoslavia was revealed (Kovačec 2017), and the appearance of the Declaration is considered the practical beginning of the Croatian national movement – the Croatian Spring.
The Matica hrvatska Collection at the Croatian State Archives contains the original document of the Declaration with accompanying materials (the manuscript of the Declaration, multiple typescript versions with and without signatures and stamps, Dalibor Brozović's telegrams, letters of the signatory institutions of the Declaration that give their support to its contents).
Fulgosi, Nikša, dir. Romantic Problems of Pepek Gumbas an...
Fulgosi, Nikša, dir. Romantic Problems of Pepek Gumbas and Marijeta Buble, 1970s.TV series
In the period from 1969 to the end of the 1970s, Nikša Fulgosi, as to do so in Yugoslavia, recorded a television series on sexuality for TV Zagreb (today HRT) under the title of Ljubavni jadi Pepeka Gumbasa i Marijete Buble [The RomanticProblems of Pepek Gumbas and Marijeta Buble]. The Monty Python-approach revealed "a master of common humour, avant-garde direction and promoter of liberal attitudes"; a filmmaker who – in times of "ideological eligibility" – mocked all manner of religious, political, and sexual hypocrisy. The provocative contents of the sketches showed women holding banners such as "We are being denied by kilometres of penises" and "Our right to be sexually exploited," along with a multitude of other "diversions," such as photographs of politicians who behave like sheep. According to sociologist Alexander Štulhofer, Fulgosi "used sex to criticize the bureaucratized political system" (Danko Volarić 2014).
Fulgosi shot and completed 13 episodes, of which only two were aired. Despite the end of the broadcast, Fulgosi continued to shoot new episodes (37 in total) which were also never aired. This unusual relationship between the creator and the "censor" illustrated the peculiarities of the Yugoslav socialist model, in which creative freedom was possible, but at the same time disproved as inadequate.
Artistic Archive of the Studio Theatre and the Jerzy Grzegorzewski Section contain all the materials created by the theatre group since 1972 until today (the archives created before 1972 are deposited at the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw). This collection is a unique testimony of how the theatre functioned in the 1970s and the 1980s, trying to stay artistically and politically independent in the times of great cultural divisions in Poland. Especially the documents from the 1980s, during Jerzy Grzegorzewski's mandate as a director of the Theatre, provide a particularly interesting overview of the life of the institution at that point. Each play has its own dossier, containing different versions of scripts, notes of the theatre group, as well as video and audio recordings, which give an insight into the process of working on domestic and foreign plays at the dynamic times of political transformations and the martial law in Poland.
The Mihai Stănescu collection illustrates the portfolio of the most corrosive critic of the communist regime in Romania to come from the community of cartoonists. In the last decades of the Romanian communist regime, cartoons were an efficient weapon of social and political criticism, and Mihai Stănescu was one of the most daring and most well-known exponents of this type of critical discourse.
The Hungarian Soros Foundation (HSF), founded in May 1984, was George Soros's first pilot enterprise in the one-time communist bloc, years before he opened his similar Beijing, Moscow, and Warsaw offices in the late 1980s or establish his foundation network in the early 1990s throughout Central and Eastern Europe. During its 23 years of public operation, the HSF spent more than 150 million dollars by providing grants, stipends and other means of support for artists, writers, scholars, and students, and it ran several new cultural and educational, social, and health projects and remained the main supporter of NGOs and civil society in Hungary. By breaking many taboos before and after 1990 with its challenging new policies, especially in the cultural field, the HSF was strongly opposed by both the communist and nationalist protagonists of state-controlled culture. Its grantees and supporters saw its main mission as the preservation and nurturing of the spirit and values of ongoing cultural resistance.
Frantisek Starek was one of the leading figures of the Czechoslovak underground movement and culture. Due to his long-lasting activity, he has built a very rich and interesting collection. In this collection, a lot of material – often unique – about Czechoslovak counterculture and personal resistance can be found. The collection covers the time period from the seventies to the nineties.
Samizdat Collection at Petőfi Literary Museum (PLM)
Samizdat Collection at Petőfi Literary Museum (PLM)
This collection is one of the most important samizdat collections in Hungary. The Museum's Library and Archive started systematically to collect samizdat materials in the 1980s. The materials were kept in closed stacks not available to the public until 1989. The Museum held one of the first exhibitions on samizdat in Hungary after the change of regimes.
The periodical “Student” was one of the most important magazines in socialist Yugoslavia. The magazine was published by students of Belgrade University and dealt with student problems as well as with broader social and political issues. It was often critical towards the regime and the communist party authorities, which resulted in its being banned several times. The collection is kept at the National and University Library in Belgrade.
The Edvard Kocbek Collection is located in the depot of the National and University Library in Ljubljana. It is actually his personal bequest to that same library. Kocbek was the greatest Slovenian poet and writer of the 20th century, who, as a Christian Socialist, joined the Slovene National Liberation Front under the control of the communists during the Second World War. Due to his divergent opinions about the war and the policies of the new communist regime, immediately after the war he was placed under the surveillance of the secret police (known as the UDBA). After that, he was very soon placed under a kind of public isolation, which implied limited movement and restricted access to intellectual life.
The photo presented Ewa Partum making her performance Stupid Woman in the Dziekanka Workshop, November 20, 1981. The performance was acknowledged as one of the essential pieces of women's art or even feminist art in Poland. Ewa Partum was one of the prominent female artists of the neo-avant-garde in the time of late socialism in Poland, alongside with Natalia LL, Maria Pinińska-Bereś, Izabella Gustowska, Teresa Murak, Zofia Kulik, and Barbara Konopka. Partum exercised the performativity of gender many times, conducting in her works deconstruction of the femininity and features associated with it. The question of gender and femininity was the subject of the Stupid Woman performance as well. On the picture taken by Tomasz Sikorski, naked Ewa Partum is performing with only chains of lights on her body.
Unknown author. Concert poster, in Romanian, 10 May 1985
Unknown author. Concert poster, in Romanian, 10 May 1985
The poster gives details of two extraordinary concerts held on 10 and 11 May 1985 by some of the most appreciated rebel artists and rock groups of that period. Among the participants were the bands Roșu și Negru (“Red and Black”), Hardton, Post Scriptum, Celelalte cuvinte (“The Other Words”), Compact, Progresiv TM, Vali Sterian și Compania de Sunet, (“Vali Sterian and the Sound Company”), and the soloists Florian Pittiș and Alexandru Andrieș. All these participants were in the grey zone of tolerance admitted by the communist regime in Romania, and numbered among those that the younger generation considered nonconformist in comparison with the musical landscape of the period. The poster is not spectacular: on a white background, the text is printed in two colours, red and blue. The rock concerts announced by this poster were held in the Polyvalent Hall. Completed in 1974 and inaugurated under the name of “Palace of Sport and of Culture,” this hall was the largest performance space in Romania at the time, with a capacity of over 5,000 places. At both concerts, the auditorium was completely packed, due to the fact that they brought together an unusually large number of stars of nonconformist music. Such concerts with a very large audience posed a particular problem for the communist authorities, who were afraid that any crowd gathered at a performance might turn into a collective protest against the economic crisis, which was weighing more and more heavily on the population of Romania. The moment at which the concerts took place is also significant, because 1985 marked a turning point. On the one hand, for fear of revolt, such shows with large numbers of stars were not organised again after this event. On the other, the years that followed up until 1989 were the most difficult for the majority of people in communist Romania, who saw the growing discrepancy between their daily lives and those of people not only in the West but also in all the other communist countries.
Invitation for the IHF Cultural Symposium, Budapest, 15-1...
Invitation for the IHF Cultural Symposium, Budapest, 15-18 October 1985. Manuscript
Invitation and program schedule for the IHF Cultural Symposium, Budapest 15–18 October 1985
Although the plans and practical preparations for the alternative programs of the Budapest Cultural Forum 1985 had been started more than a year earlier, it was this invitation letter and program schedule sent to all Western participants by the International Helsinki Federation from its Vienna Office, an invitation signed by Chairman Karl Joachim Schwarzenberg on 1 September 1985, that proved the success of devoted efforts made by the IHF staff to organize a three-day East-West Cultural Symposium in Budapest in parallel with the official opening session of the CSCE European Conference.
The main subjects of the alternative forum were much more challenging. They included “Writers and their Integrity” and “The Future of European Culture,” and they offered a good opportunity for free and stimulating exchange of ideas for participants from both East and West. The list of authors invited seemed quite imposing, as it included prominent figures such as György Konrád, Susan Sontag, Per Wἃstberg, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Derek Walcott, Timothy Garton Ash, Alain Finkelkraut, Danilo Kis, Jirzi Grusa, Ed Doctorow, and Amos Oz. This forum was perhaps the first chance since 1945 for writers from both East and West to enter free public debates on sensitive cultural and political issues such as exile, censorship, self-censorship, the role of national identity in literature, the rights of minorities, the right to history, or the basic question of whether European culture is separate from world culture. And is European culture really one indivisible culture? These questions and issues represented an utterly new approach which regarded cultural freedom as a vitally important and integral part of the overall realm of human rights.
How did the Budapest “Cultural Counter-Forum” manage to implement the promising plans made by the IHF? Not quite as was expected. Apart from Hungarians, no other participants from Eastern Bloc countries could attend the symposium, either because they could not get passports or because of the were forced to live under police surveillance or under house arrest, or they had been interned or jailed, like many Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Romanian writers at the time. They were partly represented by some Western writers with Eastern origins, e.g. Jirzi Grusa, Danilo Kis, and Amos Oz, and Timothy Garton Ash, who came from Warsaw to Budapest, spoke for the Polish writers who at the time were still suffering from the harsh measures of martial law. Things were similar in the case of writers who belonged to ethnic minorities. Hungarian participants, like poet Sándor Csoóri and philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás, spoke on their behalf, as did two of the most harassed writers and samizdat makers, Géza Szőcs, who was originally from Cluj / Kolozsvár / Klausenburg, and Miklós Duray from Bratislava / Pozsony / Pressburg. Szőcs and Duray addressed open letters to the participants in the Counter-Forum
How many people took part in the forum? As many people (120–150) as could fit in the crowded private Budapest flats provided for the event by poet István Eörsi and film director András Jeles. These people were IHF representatives, writers, journalists, Western diplomats, Hungarian intellectuals, and students. This constituted an unanticipated change which gave the Counter Forum a fairly informal and non-conformist feel. The Hungarian authorities refused to allow the group to hold its gathering in any public place, and the reservation made by the IHF for a conference room in a downtown Budapest hotel was cancelled at the last moment by the Hungarian secret police. On the very first day of the six-week-long official Forum, this scandal, which was reported on by the world press and some Western delegates, all of a sudden drew attention to the Counter-Forum, highlighting the fact that cultural affairs are still sensitive political issues in the eastern part of Europe.
The private collection of musician, DJ, radio journalist, and educator Attila Koszits is the primary source on rock and underground (especially New Wave) culture of the last half century in Pécs, a city in southern Hungary. The collection contains periodicals, photo documentation, literature of music, bootleg recordings, and music recorded on discs and cassette tapes.
Krzysztof Skiba's archive is a private collection of photos, movies, zines, books, articles, and leaflets documenting the alternative culture phenomena that Skiba participated in during the 1980s. The majority of the collection covers the street happenings created by the Gallery of Maniacal Activities in Łódź, the activities of anarchist Alternative Society Movement in Gdańsk, the very first years of the punk cabaret Big Cyc, and the first exhibition of the third circuit papers and magazines co-organized by Skiba in 1989.
Fulgosi, Nikša, dir. A Hundred Beauties per Day, 1971. Film
Fulgosi, Nikša, dir. A Hundred Beauties per Day, 1971. Film
In some film and television works, director and screenwriter Niksa Fulgosi developed a subversive critical discourse that has the features of opposition. Sto ljepotica na dan [A Hundred Beauties per Day] is one of three films from his critical- feuilletonist trilogy of 1971 (which also includes Sto kletvi na sekundu [A Hundred Curses per Second] and Sto zaduženja Betike Gumbas [The Hundred Duties of Betika Gumbas]). It was broadcasted in abridged versions "approved for presentation." Sto ljepotica na dan is a satirical and multi-layered presentation of Yugoslav society, which presents the novelty of beauty contests in a humorous way. The film is characterized by the sharp social and political satire of socialist society; under the guise of an event, the author critically interprets the current social problems such as faulty administration, social differences, backwardness, low standards and so forth. The original film is held in the Documentation Centre of Croatian Television in Zagreb.
Velid Đekić Collection of Rock and Disco Culture in Rijeka
Velid Đekić Collection of Rock and Disco Culture in Rijeka
The Velid Đekić collection covers beginning of rock and disco culture not only in Rijeka but also in the former Yugoslavia. While working on the books 91 decibels (2009) and Red! River! Rock! (2013), Đekić collected materials on many of Rijeka's bands that have existed from the late 1950s until the early 1980s, and on the places where young people gathered. That is why this collection testifies to the unique history of rock 'n' roll behind the Iron Curtain.
Zbigniew Dłubak Collection at Archeology of Photography F...
Zbigniew Dłubak Collection at Archeology of Photography Foundation
Zbigniew Dłubak collection consists of photographs, sketches, and notes, and was one of the first collections to be digitalized, catalogued, and managed by the Archeology of Photography Foundation. The objective of the Foundation was twofold. Firstly, the Foundation aimed to present the heritage of one of the most prominent Polish visual artist working in the socialist time without oversimplifying and putting him into official – dissent culture dichotomy, but to show his place in the wider context of European visual arts. Secondly, the Foundation digitalized and presented various parts of Dłubak’s collection using newest methods of archival preservation and created a fully researchable content. Part of the photographs included in the Dłubak's collection was never shown before to a wider public and was kept in the Dłubak’s private archive.
This private collection contains the works of the composer Srđan Hofman, from the late 1960s to the present. Hofman is a representative of post-modernism in music, prominent as a composer of electro-acoustic music in Yugoslavia. Because of the nature of his music, the collection includes different media such as notes on Hofman’s compositions, audio recordings of their performances (both in electronic form and on records and tapes), together with the author’s publications and publications by others on his music. As the collection reflects Hofman’s entire oeuvre, we can trace its beginning from the end of 1960s and witness his continuing creative development.
The collection exists thanks to Kolář’s friendships with artists and reflects his personal taste. Kolář bought works directly from the artists and thus he supported them. Along with works from the second half of the twentieth century, Kolář also collected older works, which are part of the collection.
Fulgosi, Nikša. Screenplay for the movie “The Late Handsh...
Fulgosi, Nikša. Screenplay for the movie “The Late Handshake," 1965. Typescript
The screenplay for the feature film Kasni stisak ruke (The Late Handshake) from 1965 was the subject of a complex background of human drama based on stories from the Second World War, set in Dalmatia in 1943.
Faced with wartime circumstances and inspired by the universal human aspirations for overcoming the conflict, Fulgosi made a brilliant study of the controversy surrounding the war. However, the film was never made. There is no specific information about the reasons for the screenplay’s rejection. It can be assumed that Fulgosi's unconventional approach and choice of themes had come to the attention of censors as in the case of the making of his first film Mala Jole.
The bookwork-catalogue documenting the first Hungarian rubberstamp action (Young Artists' Club, Budapest, 1982)with photographs, original rubberstamps, and texts explaining the event in Hungarian and English.
Erdély, Miklós, Jovánovics, György, Major, János. János M...
Erdély, Miklós, Jovánovics, György, Major, János. János Major’s coat, 1973. Work of art
The three artists’ main concept was to problematize the characteristics of avantgarde art by raising the question in the title of their work What is Avantgardism? Can it be considered an avantgarde act that Miklós Erdély, György Jovánovics and János Major exhibited a coat? As they state in the text accompanying János Major’s coat (exhibited on June 24–July 7 1973, together with other artworks by Miklós Erdély, György Jovánovics, János Major), their aim was to liberate the avantgarde from its charges, as it indicated prohibitions from the beginning of its history. The coat considered as a symbol of the bureaucrat referred to the state officials, the only people who came to the Chapel in a coat. Questioning if exhibiting the coat is an avantgarde act is at the same time a concept artwork, as the coat can be considered both a readymade object and the illustration of the idea of the act of exhibiting that. Tamás Szentjóby reconstructed and exhibited the coat in 1995 at the Víziváros Gallery as his own artwork, thereby appropriating the work from his partner contributors and contextualizing the meaning of avantgarde on a new level.
Kántor, István (Monty Cantsin). Ámen!: Filliou séance, 2 ...
Kántor, István (Monty Cantsin). Ámen!: Filliou séance, 2 June 1998, Artpool P60. Performance
István Kántor performed in the reconstructed space of Robert Filliou’s Poipoidrom. His performance was a ceremony in which he incorporated the props of neoism (a hanger placed on his head, clocks all showing 6 o’clock, the installation of texts which involved the use of his blood, and the use of a megaphone) and made use of repetitive rhythms similar to the atmosphere of a barbarous ritual, with the added effect of burning magnesium from time to time. At the end of the performance, the performer (who wore a stylized mask covering his entire head throughout the performance) handed out hangers to the audience who could place them on their own heads, thus becoming members of the neoist community, even if only for a while.
The collection reveals the life and work of the famous Lithuanian theatre director Jonas Jurašas. He was expelled from the position of director of the Kaunas State Drama Theatre in 1972. Jurašas did not agree to work under the proposed conditions of ‘Soviet theatre director’. He expressed his own view of what kind of working conditions and rights artists, and specifically theatre directors, should have. His terms were rejected by Soviet cultural administrators. Jurašas became unemployed, and had to endure poor living conditions. He and his family were among the first people in Soviet Lithuania to request permission to emigrate to the West, and received it from the Soviet government.
Manuscript magazines at the Estonian Cultural History Arc...
Manuscript magazines at the Estonian Cultural History Archives
The collection of manuscript magazines at the Estonian Cultural History Archives reflects the samizdat activities of writers and other cultural figures during Soviet times. It was formed in the 1990s after several donations, mostly from Jaan Isotamm. Nevertheless, the ‘almanac movement’ had numerous authors, outsiders as well as those recognised by the authorities whose works are now available in this collection. The collection contains manuscript magazines, poetry written in refugee camps, and material about religious movements and groups dealing with esoteric issues, etc. It also includes underground almanacs from Soviet times. These handwritten journals were not censored, and contain literary essays and poems, as well as socio-critical writings.
Although the Chválospevy I [Hymns I] collection of hymns for choirs of the Unity of the Brethren Baptists was released in 1989, congregations in Slovakia used the music circulated in hand-copied and photocopied version, as the title page of the collection states on p. 5: “The hymns are collected in various ways and the choirs then lend them to each other and exchange them, they translate, transcribe and reproduce them, or only copy them.” (p. 5) The anthology was published officially. Its preparation took several years, and it represented a compromise between what the Baptist choirs used in practice and what the scope of the possibilities of the Ecclesiastical Publishing House in Bratislava was.
The Family of Clear Streams (Porodica bistrih potoka) art commune was established by Božidar Mandić in 1977 in the village of Brezovica under Rudnik mountain and is still in existence today. The principles of the commune are the “Philosophy of Soil”, “Open Home”, “Poor Economy” and “Art” and it claims to value honesty, bravery, modesty, truth, love, goodness, peace, labor and happiness.
The exhibition BACK: Božidar Mandić and The Family of Clear Streams (1969 – 2015) (NATRAG – Božidar Mandić i Porodica bistrih potoka [1969 – 2015]) presented the life and work of Božidar Mandić, one of the most prominent representatives of avantgarde art practiced by members of Youth Tribune (Tribina Mladih) in Novi Sad during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The exhibition took place in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina (Muzej savremene umetnosti Vojvodine) in Novi Sad from 17 September to 18 October 2015. Movies and artwork dating from Božidar’s Novi Sad period and photo-documentation were shown at the exhibition, as well as a range of artwork made from natural materials in the commune. In the words of Božidar Mandić “The Family of Clear Streams is a small utopia. The opportunity for humankind is in small, rather than big utopias.”
The collection is important proof of the activities of a left-thinking historian, a "spiritual father" and co-founder of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS), a co-publisher of unofficial periodic Dialogy, who was imprisoned several times and forced to go to exile, where he collaborated with dissidents from other socialist countries.
Bondy, Egon. The Invalid Siblings, 1974. Manuscript
Bondy, Egon. The Invalid Siblings, 1974. Manuscript
The novel “The Invalid Siblings” (Invalidní sourozenci, 1974) is one of the most important works by the Czecho-Slovak poet, novelist, playwright, philosopher and “guru” of the Czechoslovak underground, Egon Bondy (real name Zbyněk Fišer, 1930–2007). Marcel Strýko, a Slovak philosopher and dissident, compared the dystopian novel to “a catechism of the Czechoslovak underground”. The novel, which was completed in February 1974, presents a vision of the moral and ecological crisis of a totalitarian society in the distant future. The plot takes place around the year 2600 on the last piece of land surrounded by rubbish. After this last area is also flooded, only the “invalids” (intellectuals, outcasts from totalitarian society, reminiscent of underground dissidents) survive on an improvised raft. The sequel to “The Invalid Siblings” was Bondy’s novel “Afghanistan”, written in 1980. At first “The Invalid Siblings” was published in 1974 as a samizdat volume. The novel was also published in exile by Sixty-Eight Publishers in Toronto in 1981. After 1990, the novel was published several times in (the former) Czechoslovakia. The novel has also been published abroad.
A manuscript of the novel was bought by the Museum of Czech Literature (PNP) in 1986 and is now part of the Egon Bondy collection deposited in the Literary Archive of PNP.
Ladislav Mňačko (1919–1994), a Slovak writer, poet, playwright and journalist, is well known mainly as the author of the famous book Jak chutná moc (The Taste of Power; 1967), which describes the practices of Communist functionaries, as well as several other works which were published in Czechoslovakia before 1968. His works written in Austrian exile after 1968 are less well known. This also applies to the play Tschistka (Purge). This satirical play describes the practices of an omnipotent secret police in a totalitarian state, which in the end becomes the victim of its very own terror. It was produced by the Austrian broadcaster ORF as a radio play in 1983 and directed by Fritz Zecha. The play was also produced by the Slovak National Theatre in 1993. The Austrian edition of this play from 1980 is held in the Ladislav Mňačko Collection in the Literary Archive of Museum of Czech Literature.
Mattis-Teutsch, Hans. Forestry Worker, n.d. Painting
Mattis-Teutsch, Hans. Forestry Worker, n.d. Painting
Although it is not officially dated, Muncitor forestier (Forestry Worker) was probably painted in the late 1940s or early 1950s, when its author was trying to adapt his artistic creation to the new cultural policies. From the point of view of the technique used, the painting combines tempera and oil painting on plywood. According to the art historian Radu Popica, the painting Muncitor forestier (Forestry Worker) illustrates the “difficulties” encountered by Mattis-Teutsch in the process of adapting to socialist realism (Popica 2015, 12). The artist tried to combine techniques of his art from the 1930s with the precepts of socialist realism. However, this synthesis, called by the artist “constructive-realism,” failed to convince the authorities (Popica 2015, 13). As has been observed by Dan-Octavian Breaz, although Mattis-Teutsch’s art in the 1930s suggested the “new man” of socialist realism, the modernist techniques used by Mattis-Teutsch were in fact incompatible with socialist realism, because they were unsuitable for the purpose that art was supposed to serve in the new society (Breaz 2013, 124). This explains the negative reception of Mattis-Teutsch’s artistic creation in the 1950s, despite his honest attempts to integrate into the new cultural context.
Everyday life East. A digital guide to everyday life in t...
Everyday life East. A digital guide to everyday life in the GDR
This digital guide to everyday life in the GDR is a project initiated in 2017 by Kooperative Berlin, a Berlin-based media association, in collaboration with the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship. The aim of the project is to create a digital guide to everyday life in the GDR by focusing on various places throughout the GDR. The project sheds light on a myriad of locations associated with activities tolerated or banned by the regime, which eventually impacted everyday life. The interactive platform was created with the purpose of providing tourists a tool to guide them to lesser-known places, which nevertheless provide broad insights into the stories and histories which made up everyday life in the GDR.
Imre Baász: Bar breaker [A rácstörő/ Spărgătorul de grati...
Imre Baász: Bar breaker [A rácstörő/ Spărgătorul de gratii], linocut, 1976
Bar Breaker is one of Baász’s most iconic works, compressing his virtuoso graphic world and his oppositional attitude into one piece of art. Although now famous for his workshops and performances, Imre Baász was primarily a graphic artist. His aim of destroying familiar forms in art is paired with a constant search for new forms. He only kicks the rules if he has news to offer. Bar Breaker dates back to the period right after he moved to Sfântu Gheorghe from Cluj-Napoca. The county first offered him a house in Arcuș/Árkos, a nearby village. This was the period when he discovered objects which later become key elements in his work, like the clapper, the nelson, and the loudspeaker.
Bar Breaker features a standing figure with a clapper in his hands disrupting a grid. On the other side of the grid, there is another figure sitting on a crowned chair, holding a loudspeaker. The abstract style and the geometrical figure perception are very typical of the Baász’s early period.
Vilnius University Party Committee Collection (1945-1986)
Vilnius University Party Committee Collection (1945-1986)
The Vilnius University Party Committee collection reflects the official policy and attitudes towards teachers, researchers and students. The university administration and Party Committee tried to control the educational process and the creative expression of scholars and students. On the other hand, documents from the collection help us to better understand the creative ambitions of Lithuanian researchers and even students, which did not always comply with the official ideology.
According to very early notes and recordings, István Darkó began work on Macskarádió (Cat radio) while at high school, in the early 1970s, using stories from his home-made paper Bendzin and his comic-experiment Utazás a világ körül (Journey around the world) together with other writings, and it continued to grow until the end of his university years, in 1978. Darkó's first tape recorder was the famous Hungarian Mambó, acquired from his parents; later he used a SANYO. He was very inventive, because he knew the technical possibilities of the poor-quality tape recorders. He worked not with the switch cabinet but with his hand, manually touching the tape to the recording head during recording. He did everything with one tape recorder and one microphone.
The audio recordings of Cat Radio are preserved on East-German-made tape with the series mark ORWO TYP 120/360 m Double Play, 5/482. The box is labelled “A MACSKARÁDIÓ különműsora” (Special programme of CAT RADIO). MacskarádióI. (Cat radio I.),the full story itself, is on the first track, and Macskarádió II. (Cat radio II.), which is looser in its structure, composed as an evening music programme, is on the second. On a second tape Darkó stored the various sounds needed for the radio play, for example the clacks of train wheels and animal noises.
Cat Radio is not only a studio, but a spiritual place, where things come together, meet, or break up, an occult place, where the arrangement and matching of the stories takes place. All the characters speak through the voice of Darkó, with the bon ton (mannered, polite) Hungarian movie voice of the 1940s. But these are experienced voices; the performer only ever spoke in the sanctuary of Cat Radio when sufficiently aroused. He made the audio recording in stages. The elaboration of each detail, each sequence is mental. According to Péter Egyed, the fact that Darkó created it over such a long period made it an endlessly complicated story. There are at least three levels, though this is hard to realise after hearing it once or even two or three times. Because of its metaphysics and because of its complicatedness it is obvious that the radio play was not made for a broad public audience. The constant element in the events is persecution. The characters are divided mainly in three groups. As a matter of fact there is a battle of intentions going on, in which the secret service type of deception is crucial. It is a matter of make-believe, gullibility; who is capable of reconstructing the true reality in virtual sound fields?
In Cluj and in Târgu Mureș the world, or rather worlds, constructed by István Darkó became known. When wanted to be in his element among his acquaintances and friends, he got out Cat Radio and let them listen to it. They listened to it, word leaked out, and the notoriety of Cat Radio exceeded theoretically and also practically the narrower circle of his friends. There was a mystical quality about it. It did not spread samizdat-like, because there was only one original tape, of which a copy was never made. But the fact that this tape was listened to by 10–20–50–100 people and so on made it a semi-public production. What runs on the tape is a continuous analysis of being. In Darkó's world there is a bit of the Orwellian, the hereafter, the world of passing, of things that have not come yet, that cannot be experienced by living people. In his view of life there is also an extraordinary closeness of death. Let's be careful, because we live in a world in which the other one is contained too, even if we don't want to acknowledge it!
When interpreting Cat Radio, Péter Egyed could not ignore the space and time parameters of its appearance. He believed that the material of Cat Radio could not exist independent of what István Darkó had experienced. Why did he not write something else? According to Egyed the Securitate, the state Party and other official agencies were not well-intentioned administrators of humanity, but people following orders and those orders were not about serving the good of civil society. They – contemporaries – were actually playing something according to the script of the multilaterally developed socialist society. It had to be played that things were all right, but everyone knew that it was actually about something else than what they were playing. In the script there is not real life, but Nothing – but where was real life then? Egyed thought that real life was located in what they experienced in intimacy, and what came up in intimacy, real friendships, love relations etc. Society had a life that supported this, as opposed to that which wanted to destroy it. In the army their officers told them that they, the intellectuals, were not needed for the country, either as intellectuals nor as soldiers. They were the "negligible quantity" and they were made to understand that they did not count from the point of view of the socialist future.
Veljo Tormis' manuscript collection at the Estonian Theat...
Veljo Tormis' manuscript collection at the Estonian Theatre and Music Museum
Veljo Tormis (1930–2017) was one of the most important Estonian composers in the second half of the 20th century. His most active period of creation was during Soviet times. After 1960, the original manuscripts of his works were given to the Estonian Theatre and Music Museum after they were finished and approved. These manuscripts, and others donated after the restoration of independence, today form a large collection of manuscripts of hundreds of different works. They give us an insight into the work and legacy of Tormis, including his struggle with Soviet censorship and the absurd working conditions for creative people.
Raša Todosijević, Was ist Kunst, Marinela Koželj?, 1978, ...
Raša Todosijević, Was ist Kunst, Marinela Koželj?, 1978, video
The work is a video recording of one of a series of performances entitled ‘Was ist Kunst?’ (What is Art?) conducted by Todosijević between 1976 and 1981 in various cities, situations and surroundings. In each performance, the artist addresses a female model, repeating the same question in German: ‘Was ist Kunst?’ The artist’s raised voice is commanding and recalls repressive techniques of police interrogation, evoking the traumatic experience of those members of the Yugoslav public who at that time still remembered scenes of Gestapo torture and the brutality of German occupation in the Second World War. The artist repeats the same question until he reaches a point of total exhaustion and loses his voice. The passive female model stoically enduring the torture triggers associations with the passive and masochistic attitude of citizens in a totalitarian order who lose their will, thus aiding the unimpeded operation of the repressive apparatus. This kind of aggressive behaviour and provocation of the public appears in other works by the artist. ‘Was ist Kunst?’ is an emblematic work by Raša Todosijević and at the same time represents one of the most significant works of Serbian art in the twentieth century.
“The performances entitled ‘Was ist Kunst?’ are political performances in the broadest sense of the word. Not art in the service of politics but rather art that sublimates the social performance into an artistic performance, emphasising in that sublimation some of the characteristics of social occurrences, the phenomenon of mass psychology, of the demagogy of language, of continual repetition – through cathartic emphasis.” (Published in 'New Art in Serbia 1970–1980’, Museum of Contemporary Art, 1983). The work ‘Was ist Kunst, Marinela Koželj?’was purchased and integrated into theMuseum’s Collection of New Art Media in 1988.
Imre Baász: Step by step [Lépésről lépésre], 1983, mail art
Imre Baász: Step by step [Lépésről lépésre], 1983, mail art
Step by Step is a mail artwork from the beginning of the 1980s which Baász made for a Hungarian exhibition. The stamp depicts a pair of legs tied together, which obviously carried ambiguous meanings at the time. Baász made it for the International Mail Art Exhibition curated by Antal Vásárhelyi and organized by the Young Artists’ Association in Budapest in 1984. The work was highly celebrated and published the same year in Élet és Irodalom [Life and Literature], a Hungarian weekly, as an illustration for János Bencze’s article Szabadlábon [At Large]. The artwork provoked a conviction from the Romanian embassy in Budapest and ultimately served as a pretense for the interrogations to which Baász was subjected by the Romanian political police between October 3 and 8, 1984. It was during this interrogation-series that Baász formulated his ars poetica.
The real importance of the selected work is actually of another nature. The genre merits emphasis, as it is is the key to the whole piece. In the 1980s, when communication was entirely supervised, mail art served as a perfect transmission tool among artists. The aim of creating a web of radical artists throughout Europe was a purely aesthetic and apolitical goal.
Ivan Blatný Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
Ivan Blatný Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
Ivan Blatný (1919–1990), an important Czech poet, lived and died in exile in the United Kingdom after 1948. Upon arrival in the UK, he applied for political asylum and became a “banned” poet in Czechoslovakia as a result of his emigration and openly talking on BBC radio about political pressure against artists in Czechoslovakia. Despite being banned, his work circulated in Czechoslovakia through both samizdat and official printings.
Artists' Archives of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
Artists' Archives of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
Artists’ Archives gather private collections of artists, documenting the most significant phenomena in post-1945 Polish art, including those which opposed the system or were criticised by the authorities. Many of these, are the work of creators and milieus engaged in the critique of the authorities and the cultural mainstream of Polish People's Republic. The Archives, designed as an integral part of the new Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, collects artzines, manifestos, private and official letters, as well as documentation of artistic activities. Its collection is being digitised and published via Internet portal. The unveiling of every new collection is treated as an exhibition marked by a series of panels and meetings.
Manuscript of poetry book "Seed in Snow" written in impri...
Manuscript of poetry book "Seed in Snow" written in imprisonment in Mordovia
During his detention in Mordovia in 1963-1969, Knuts Skujenieks wrote several hundred poems. He was allowed to send two letters a month, and sent poems in letters to his wife which were read by his colleagues. After his release, he composed a collection of poetry, but it could not be published until 1990, and was only published in its entirety in his complete works in 2002. As Skujenieks said, this poetry ‘is not "gulag" poetry, but poetry written in the gulag [...] The initial shock and protest gradually turned into a fight in prison within myself' (Bitite Vinklers. Introduction. In: Seed in Snow. Poems by Knuts Skujenieks. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, 2016, p. 9).
The Museum of Lies was founded by Reinhard Zabka, the Dadaist artist also known as Richard von Gigantikow, in 1990 during the political changes of the GDR. It came about by the private initiative of the artist, who was active in the non-conformist and avant-garde art scene during the GDR period. Its origins lie in an art house established by the artist during the GDR in Babe, in the state of Brandenburg. From its very beginning, the museum has been a non-conformist project that has aimed at breaking taboos of content just as those of institutions. After relocating to a rural area of Saxony, the art house was transformed into its current form of the Museum of Lies.
Concerning the censorship of Lucian Pintilie’s film De ce...
Concerning the censorship of Lucian Pintilie’s film De ce trag clopotele, Mitică? (Why are the bells ringing, Mitică?), November 1981. Report
Lucian Pintilie’s second film project De ce trag clopotele, Mitică? (Why are the bells ringing, Mitică?) was presented for the first closed screening before the censoring committee in June 1981. After the screening, the cultural authorities decided to stop financing its production. Consequently, Lucian Pintilie protested against this decision in meetings with the highest Party leaders and wrote a letter signed by him and the film crew to complain about the situation (Pintilie 2003, 320–328). The report chosen as a featured item of the collection records what happened after the first screening and details the circumstances and the reasons that led to the banning of the film. Probably due to Lucian Pintilie’s protest, a second screening was organised on 25 October 1981. The decision-makers gathered to make recommendations about the film and on the basis of these to grant their approval for it to be finished. The report underlines the fact that the audience had different opinions about the film. While the censoring committee and other cultural activists agreed that Pintilie should be allowed to complete his work, his fellow directors spoke about “inappropriate aspects” of the film. Despite these optimistic assessments, the management of the studio for which Lucian Pintilie produced the film handed him an official address on 4 November 1981. The document contained critical evaluations made by the censoring committee about his film, concerning his directorial perspective and elements that were not included in the original script. Moreover, he was required within an interval of ten days to remove eighteen sequences that were outlined as inappropriate (lines with double meanings, ribaldry, sexual acts, etc.). After the implementation of these changes the film would undergo another closed screening in order to get approval. The report records the reactions of the Romanian director regarding the censorship of his movie. He declared bluntly that he would not make any of the suggested changes. and threatened the management of the film studio and the cultural authorities that he would protest publicly about the unfair treatment and censorship of his work. His intransigent position and threats of public protest influenced the Romanian authorities’ decision to give Pintilie’s film a new chance in 1982. As he again refused to implement the changes requested by the censorship, the official premiere and public screening of De ce trag clopotele, Mitică? did not occur until after the fall of the communist regime (ANCAS, Informative Fonds, file 235, f. 12 f-v).
Šavrda, Jaromír. The Prisoner No. 1260, 1982. Manuscript
Šavrda, Jaromír. The Prisoner No. 1260, 1982. Manuscript
Jaromír Šavrda, a writer, poet, journalist and dissident from Ostrava, was, because of his samizdat activities, twice held in the custodial prison in Ostrava and later imprisoned in Ostrov nad Ohří, first from September 1978 until March 1981 and then from September 1982 until October 1984. During his second stay in prison, Šavrda wrote two books reflecting his experiences as a political prisoner; they depict his personal experiences from police persecution and describe the lives of people that Šavrda met in prison. The first of the books was “Vězeň č. 1260” (The Prisoner No. 1260), written between September and November 1982 and published as samizdat, followed by “Ostrov v souostroví” (The Island in the Archipelago), written by Šavrda between November 1982 and January 1983. After his return from prison, this two texts were published in 1987 as an omnibus called “Přechodné adresy” (The Temporary Addresses), at first in samizdat edition Popelnice and then in edition Expedice. “Přechodné adresy” was first officially published in the 1990s (Ostrava: WMCG 1991, 1993). Both texts were also published separately with original titles in 2009 (Prague: Pulchra, 2009). “Přechodné adresy” (2009) is also a name of a documentary film about Jaromír Šavrda directed by Petra Všelichová.
This collection contains the original issues of ARS – Review of Culture, Art and Science, a literary journal first published from 1986 to 1989 in Montenegro. The circle of intellectuals associated with ARS anticipated many of the social and political issues that escalated into the worst forms of nationalism in the early 1990s, leading to the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Because of their non-conformist attitudes, members of ARS, and its publisher, the Literary Municipality of Cetinje, found themselves under pressure by the communist regime. Consequently, the journal was forced to cease publication in 1989.
The collection includes documents (archival material) stored in the archive of the "Commission for the Disclosure of Documents and Announcing Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens with the State Security and the Intelligence Services of the Bulgarian People's Army", commonly called "Commission for Dossiers" (Comdos) in Bulgarian.
The collection documents developments among the Bulgarian intelligentsia during the communist regime through the perspective of the secret police and reveals their strategies of observation and persecution of critical intellectuals.
Tomasz Sikorski Collection on the Biennial of Spatial For...
Tomasz Sikorski Collection on the Biennial of Spatial Forms in Elbląg
The collection stores about 250 photos made by Tomasz Sikorski during the Fifth Biennial of Spatial Forms known as Kino Laboratorium (Cinema Laboratory), in 1973. The pictures documented the 1973’s sculptures, objects, and performances, as well as artworks created in the earlier years. There are also some photos from 1972 when Sikorski came to Elbląg to document the preparations for the event. The Biennial, organized in Elbląg from 1965, was one of the crucial neo-avantgarde events in Poland. Cinema Laboratory was the last edition of Biennial in Elbląg; soon after its end Gerard Blum-Kwiatkowski, initiator and founder of the event, moved abroad to Germany.
The Milovan Djilas collection is deposited at the Hoover Institute Library & Archives, located at Stanford University in the United States. It offers an important insight into the life and work of the first and most prominent dissident in Yugoslavia, who was also one of the most notable dissidents anywhere in communist Europe. Djilas had been the main ideologue of the Yugoslav Communist Party and one of the Tito's closest associates when he confronted the Party and Tito in the mid-1950s.
(The reconstruction of Robert Filliou’s Poipoidrom (1976) made in 1998, in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Hungary)
The reconstruction was made after the Poipoidrom done by Robert Filliou and Joachim Pfeufer at the Young Artists’ Club (Fiatal Művészek Klubja) between September 7-17, 1976. The first version of the Poipoidrom was made by Filliou in 1975, while the idea itself origins from 1963. The title of the artwork comes from the greeting “poipoi” used by the ethnic group dogon people – referring to the relevance of communication. Robert Filliou identifies the Poipoidrom as the space of the creative act originnaly constructed of wood, strings, bottles and eggs, but can also be developed into an architectural complex. Also called “the hallway of permanent creation,” the installation at the Young Artists’ Club was supplemented with photographs, texts and objects, serving as a model for common knowledge and communication. After the exhibition, the installation was given to the Museum of Fine Arts in Hungary as a deposit. Artpool initiated the restoration of the work on the occasion of the exhibition Installation Project at Artpool P60 in 1998. On this occasion, István Kántor (Monty Cantsin) performed in the reconstructed space of the Poipoidrom.
Securitate. About Herta Müller’s Niederungen (Nadirs), March 1982. Note
Herta Müller’s informative surveillance file (dosar de urmărire informativă) contains several informative notes given by the Securitate’s German-speaking sources about her first book Niederungen (Nadirs). These notes are important as the arguments put forward by their authors were used by the Securitate’s officials to begin their informative surveillance of her. The note chosen as a feature item of the collection was signed by the source “Voicu” on March 1982 before the opening of informative surveillance against Herta Müller. He focuses on three of the short stories contained in Niederungen (Nadirs) to underline their “hostile” content towards the communist regime. Stating that Müller’s prose lacks any “positive, optimist elements,” “Voicu” shows that “Das schwäbische Bad” (The Swabian bath) and “Meine Familie” (My family) picture the moral degeneration of the Swabian family in the countryside. Moreover, according to his opinion “Dorfchronik” (The chronicle of the village) sheds a negative light on the local administration and living conditions in rural areas. Müller, he says, underlines that the local officials are all related and support each other to maintain their domination over the village. The mayor holds mandatory meetings but their participants not only ignore him and smoke carelessly but also arrive drunk and continue to drink even during meetings. Public buildings have also lost their officially ascribed meaning, so that, for example, the local house of culture hosts weddings instead of cultural activities. Things are no better in the local agricultural farms, where one of the engineers instead of focusing on his job takes pictures of the surroundings and enters photography competitions.
Ha minden jól megy [’If everything goes well’. A literary...
Ha minden jól megy [’If everything goes well’. A literary anthology of the authors supported by the Soros Foundation–Hungary], 1994. Book
From the outset, one of the main aims and preferred profiles of the Soros Foundation Hungary (HSF), was to provide support for contemporary Hungarian literature through the numerous grants and prizes offered for writers and literary scholars as well as the largescale system of support for book publishers, periodicals, and libraries following 1989–1990. The jubilary anthology of works by 58 writers, which enjoyed the support of the Foundation, was launched to mark the 10th anniversary in order to represent the versatile values of this literary heritage, with a forward by novelist Miklós Mészöly and the title by Péter Esterházy: Ha minden jól megy / If Everything Goes Well on Its Way. It was published in 1994, more or less at the halftime of Soros Foundation Hungary’s support for Hungarian literature, by a new Budapest scholarly publisher, the Balassi Publishing House.
In fact, this special project of literary grants and other forms of support was originally intended to be but a modest experiment to determine whether an alternative patronage system based on private donations by George Soros could work more or less independently outside the prevailing system of communist cultural policy. The call for grant applications was announced, and in early 1985, an advisory board was formed of four devoted middle-aged experts: Miklós Almási, Mátyás Domokos, Ottó Orbán, and Endre Török, chaired by a widely respected senior poet and essayist, István Vas. It was quite clear from the outset that the process of selecting the grantees required considerable attention to detail, and results could only be achieved step by step. Therefore, most of the successful applicants were recruited from among authors who had not been banned or supported by the regime, but rather had simply been tolerated. Dissident writers, who by that time published their works mostly in samizdats, or writers who were more radically critical (such as intransigent poet György Petri) were repeatedly denied support by the party through the co-chairman of Soros Foundation Hungary, an apparatchik who represented the Hungarian Academy of Science. Still, some dissidents were able to secure support later, such as György Berkovits, Zsolt Csalog, János Kenedi, and Sándor Radnóti.
1989 and 1990 brought major changes. The advisory board was renewed and divided into two separate juries: one responsible for belle lettres, another for literary scientific support. Instead of grants, a system of literary prizes was established named after Hungarian nineteenth-century and twentieth-century classic authors, like Endre Ady, Lajos Kassák, Dezső Kosztolányi, Gyula Krúdy, Imre Madách, Sándor Weöres, etc. Furthermore, a set of new projects was launched to provide direct support for literary publishers, periodicals, and libraries throughout the country. During the first ten years (i.e. up until 1994) of the Soros literary patronage program, altogether 330 grantees and 50 prize-winners were given support. Most of them were original, middle-aged talents, including several Hungarian poets and novelists from Romania, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, such as Lajos Grendel, Elemér Horváth, István Szilágyi, Ottó Tolnai, János Székely, Árpád Tőzsér, and László Végel.
The Mihajlo Mihajlov collection gives an overview of his life and work as a Yugoslav dissident who lived in exile in the USA since 1978. Due to his efforts to democratize Tito's Yugoslavia and introduce political, economic and cultural pluralism, he became a political prisoner, first in the period from 1966 to 1970 and later from 1974 to 1977. After the “Mihajlov case” in Yugoslavia in 1966, a wave of dissident movements emerged in the Eastern bloc countries. Together with Milovan Đilas, Mihajlov became one of the most famous figures of the dissident movement in the Cold War world in general. The collection is stored at the Hoover Institution, located at Stanford University in the USA.
Imre Baász: The Burial of the Suitcase [A bőrönd elásása]...
Imre Baász: The Burial of the Suitcase [A bőrönd elásása], 1979, performance
Before the fall of the communist regime led by Nicolae Ceaușescu in December 1989, performance art appeared only sporadically in basements and in private apartments. The birth of Romanian and Transylvanian performance art is closely linked to the artistic work of Imre Baász. The Burial of the Suitcase is one of the earliest of the very few performances carried out in Romania before 1989. Its message is linked to Chances of Survival, prompting people to discover the possibility of staying in Romania, softly accusing those who had left, but without pointing fingers.
The performance was carried out in 1979, near the town of Sfântu Gheorghe. Baász used his grandfather’s old suitcase, which he had taken with him when he had moved to America. He did not make a fortune and he did not stay there though: he returned home and continued his life where he had left off. This story showed that the time spent in a foreign place can more easily turn out to be wasted than time spent at home, even if it is spent struggling. Baász put everything in the suitcase which would be necessary for a real emigration, walked out of the town, asked for a saw, and buried the suitcase. In a way, the performance had a double goal: to symbolically protest against leaving the country and to give final peace to the ancestor’s suitcase in the soil of his homeland.
Polja (Fields), magazine for culture and art collection
Polja (Fields), magazine for culture and art collection
Polja magazine [Fields in English], is one of the longest running periodicals in the former Yugoslavia, and was first published in 1955 in Novi Sad. Throughout 506 issues, Polja has covered important periods in Yugoslav cultural history and has featured young authors in the fields of literature, cultural theory, and literary and film criticism. The magazine has a history of providing a platform for social criticism, as it became inseparable from the youth-led organization Tribina mladih [Tribune of Youth] which criticized the social and political situation in the country and the culture of its time.
The FV 112/15 Group Collection is a blend of artistic materials representing the time, social movements, and lifestyle of young people in Slovenia in the 1980s. It documents a central part of Ljubljana’s subculture and the alternative youth movement through the work of an amateur theatre group called the FV 112/15 Theatre and through the activities of three alternative clubs. The group cultivated an ironic attitude toward socialism and deconstructed bourgeois stereotypes.
Seifert, Jaroslav. All Beauties of the World, 1970/1975. ...
Seifert, Jaroslav. All Beauties of the World, 1970/1975. Manuscript
The collection of the prose memoir “Všecky krásy světa” (All Beauties of the World) originated from the initiative of the photographer Ondřej Rakovec, who asked Seifert to accompany his poetic pictures of Prague in the winter with words. Seifert’s memoirs were commissioned by the publishing house Albatros at the beginning of 1970s, but the manuscript was removed from the publishing schedule on request of Ministry of Culture in February 1972. Even after the rejection of his manuscript, Seifert continued writing his memoirs and offered them to publishing house Odeon in 1976. In the same year, his memoir’s texts were recited by the actress Vlasta Chramostová in front of three dozen guests in her flat. Extracts of Vlasta Chramostová’s recitation with Jaroslav Seifert’s introduction were later released in Stockholm on gramophone records by the Charter 77 Foundation with support of the publishing house Šafrán in Uppsala. “Všecky krásy světa” was also printed in exile, in 1981, to mark Seifert’s eightieth birthday. The book was published by Index in Cologne and by Sixty-Eight Publishers in Toronto. In the same year, the memoirs were also published in samizdat edition Kvart. “Všecky krásy světa” was later officially published also in Czechoslovakia, in years 1983 and 1985 by the Československý spisovatel (Czechoslovak Writer) publishing house. This “official” version was, however, censored – some chapters or names of “undesirable” people were left out. When Jaroslav Seifert was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1984, the manuscript of “Všecky krásy světa” was, with both exiled and official Czechoslovak editions as well as a list of the censored erasures, put on display in the hall of the Royal National Library in Stockholm. The third official Czechoslovak edition was published in 1992 and was based on the uncensored exile version of the memoirs. The book was later published several times in the Czech Republic, as well as translated into many other languages.
The manuscript of “Všechny krásy světa”, written between 1970 and 1975, is currently in the Literary Archive of the Museum of Czech Literature; the manuscript was officially bought by the Museum from the antiquarian bookshop on Wenceslas Square 41 in Prague in 1978.
The Foreign Croatica Collection is the largest collection of books and periodicals published by Croatian authors in foreign countries. The Collection includes publications in many languages covering numerous issues on Croatia and the Croatian people, including those related to the socialist period. It is the most important collection in Croatia containing books by Croatian émigrés banned during the time of socialist Yugoslavia.
The Lajos Vajda Studio was officially established in 1972 as a circle of visual artists interested in experimental practices. The origins of the cohesiveness of the group lie in the spirit of the place and the group’s attachment to Szentendre and its artistic traditions. At the end of the 1960s, a vital, informal counterculture-cell came into existence in Szentendre in part because of the activities of young artists who inspired one another. The archive documents the history and the activities of the studio and its members.
Artpool Art Research Center collects, archives, and makes available documents for researchers regarding marginalized art practices of Hungary in the 1970s and 1980s and contemporary international art tendencies. Topics in the archive include progressive, unofficial Hungarian art movements (such as underground art events, venues, groups, and samizdat publications between 1970 and 1990) and new tendencies in international art beginning in the 1960s.
In addition to functioning as a research center, Artpool considers itself an active archive. It organizes events in search of new forms of social activity, participates in the process in a formative way, and simultaneously documents and archives these process in order to promote the free flow of information.
Drábek, Jaroslav. A Contribution to the History of the Be...
Drábek, Jaroslav. A Contribution to the History of the Beginning of the Czechoslovak Resistance (in Czech), 1960. Manuscript
Jaroslav Drábek Jr (1901–1996), a Czech lawyer, journalist and member of the Czechoslovak resistance movement during the Second World War, was the author of a lecture entitled “A Contribution to the History of the Beginning of the Czechoslovak Resistance”, which was presented on 9 December 1960 as part of the series “Contributions to the Development of the Idea of the Czechoslovak State” organized by the Czechoslovak Society for Arts and Science. The 33-page article includes descriptions of Drábek’s memories of his resistance activities, his escapes, interrogations, the Gestapo, and his colleagues in exile in London. Drábek also described other experiences from the postwar period, such as the arrest and torture of his colleague after the Communist coup. After February 1948, Drábek emigrated from Czechoslovakia. The document also includes a letter from the Czech scientist and prominent member of the anti-Nazi resistance, Professor Vladimír Krajina, who also emigrated after 1948. In his letter, Krajina mentions the fact that it was Jaroslav Drábek Jr who persuaded him to be active in the resistance during the Second World War.
Jiří Lederer Collection of the Czechoslovak Documentation...
Jiří Lederer Collection of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre
Jiří Lederer (1922-1983) was a Czech journalist and publicist, one of the most prominent journalists during the "Prague Spring" in 1968. In the 1970s he participated in the work of the Czechoslovak opposition and was one of the first signatories of Charter 77. During the 1970s he was imprisoned several times. In 1980 he went into exile. The collection mainly contains materials and notes from the period around the Prague Spring.
(Miklós Erdély: Newspaper Cake, 3×4, Artpool, Budapest, 1993)
The first realization of Miklós Erdély’s idea of the Newspaper Cake was made by Gábor Altorjay in 1967. The version in the Artpool’s collection was done on the occasion of the exhibition 3×4 in 1993 by the organizers following the original concept. Regarding Erdély’s idea in the 1960s, the “cake” is constructed of round newspaper cut-outs glued to one another and sliced up as a cake. Tamás Szentjóby referred to the cake as a dish that is “eaten by everybody every day,” interpreted as a metaphor, for “stuffing” society with information.http://www.artpool.hu/Fluxus/3x4/Erdely_ujsagtorta_en.html
The painting in water-colors named by Kurts Fridrihsons "25 kilometres from Omsk", depicts a scenery from the Gulag camp or its closer environments. Although there are no typical attributes of the camp scenery such as wired fence, watchtowers (probably, because such paintings were not allowed to keep and to send home), mood of the painting is gloomy and full of desperation.
The Jaromír and Dolores Šavrda Collection consists mostly of materials documenting the life and work of Jaromír Šavrda (1933–1988), a Czech journalist, writer, political prisoner and significant representative of dissent in Ostrava. Parts of the collection are, for example, Jaromír Šavrda’s biographical documents, his literary work including poetry written in prison, samizdat editions of his works as well as works written by other authors, manuscripts and typescripts of books and magazines, materials documenting his activities in dissent and his correspondence.
Knuts Skujenieks (b. 1936) is a Latvian poet, a dissident who was sentenced in 1962 to seven years in prison for anti-Soviet activities. The collection holds manuscripts from all his creative life, but the most powerful are the manuscripts he created during his imprisonment: poems and other literary texts, correspondence with his wife and colleagues, and many other documents that reflect the development of his poetic language and political consciousness.
The Public Art Class was a ‘happening’ which was performed on the Danube Quay in Novi Sad on 18 October 1970 by members of local cultural groups: Slobodan Tišma, Mirko Radojičić, Zoran Stojanović, Bogdanka Poznanović, Slavko Bogdanović, Vladimir Mandić, Božidar Mandić and a guest from Zagreb, Goran Trbuljak. Vladimir Mandić and Božidar Mandić painted a 4 square meter piece of public space white, including asphalt, grass, a bench and a garbage bin. They subsequently carried out the intervention in space by filling bottles that were floating on trees along quay with water from the Danube. In the end they placed a long line of newspapers on the river’s surface, letting them float towards Belgrade. (Milenković, 2015, p. 23)
The picture shows a man with his back to the observer. He is leaning slightly forward over a scene representing an unsupported table on which stand several houses of cards that may fall down at any moment. One has already collapsed. The picture is a metaphor for the tragic fate and existence of the human being, his uncertain plight in the modern world, as well as a utopian view on socialist society. He gazes at the houses of cards as though trying to read his fate, his future. The artist himself may be recognised in the man’s depiction, hiding his face from the observer in a state of speechlessness given the forlorn and tragic image of modernity before him.
‘Književne novine’ [Literary News] was one of the leading cultural and literary journals in Yugoslavia. It was often the target of criticism due to views that were not always in line with the communist party, causing it to be banned several times. The available editions are kept in two libraries in Belgrade: the National Library of Serbia and the University Library "Svetozar Marković".
This collection consists primarily of the items confiscated by the Securitate on 1 April 1977, on the occasion of the house search and arrest of the driving force behind an emerging movement in defence of human rights in Romania, Paul Goma, a writer censored in Romania but successful abroad. A particular feature of this collection is that the confiscated items were not destroyed, but were preserved by the Securitate and finally transferred to CNSAS in 2002, from where they were returned to Goma in 2005. Thus, the collection is one of the few which travelled after 1989 from Romania into exile and is now to be found in Paris, where Goma was forced to emigrate a few months after his arrest and the confiscation of the collection.
During the 1960s, the SED (the communist party in power in East Germany) regime engaged in covering the gap of contemporary socialist theatre performance on GDR stages. Consequently, in 1963 the German Theatre (Deutscher Theater) in Berlin commissioned Heiner Müller to stage the novel Spur der Steine by Erik Neutsch. Müller’s critical adaptation of the novel as Der Bau (The Construction), which departed significantly from the original novel, was met by fierce criticism from the SED. Following seven revisions of the play, Müller was still unable to stage his work. It was only in September 1980 when the adaptation found significant success with the Volksbühne Theater in Berlin under the guidance of director Fritz Marquardt. However, censors forced the creators to change the play’s title and the names of the characters. The controversy around the performance was linked to the play’s subtle critique of the GDR shown as detached from reality, dominated by a rigid bureaucracy, with citizens alienated by socialism, and the overemphasising of ‘development’ and ‘modernisation’. The play was greeted with praise by audiences, although the East and West German media reacted differently. West German press generally responded that the themes touched on in the play should have discussed years earlier, whereas the GDR press thought that the delay from real events was appropriate, such as discussion around the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The subtle staging of the political event, such as the construction of the Berlin Wall, created space for debate within the play’s audience. The play was staged twenty-nine times within a year of the opening night, and further performances were organised throughout the GDR. However, the fall of the GDR also meant the end for the play, which was staged only another two times, and only alongside other plays of Heiner Müller. Currently, documents related to the play are preserved as part of the Theatre Performance Documentation collection of the Archives of Performing Arts of the Academy of Arts in Berlin.
Established in 1992, the First Slovak Investment Group´s collection focuses on twentieth-century Slovak fine art. The core of the collection consists of works from the relatively free 1960s as well as the period of “normalisation,” and includes also works created beyond the framework of the official doctrine of socialist realism.
The Soft Geometry Archive was built up by Géza Perneczky in Cologne, Germany. The archive consists primarily of publications by artists since the 1970s and works from the art movements of late Fluxus, Mail Art, and visual and experimental poetry. The collection includes works by artists from all over the world, for instance Latin America and Japan. Works by East-European artists constitute about 25 percent of the content.
The pirate records of Led Zeppelin’s first concert constite a special part of the holdings of the music collection. Péter Hont acquired the recording as private property when the collection was eliminated in the early 2000s.
The Andrei Pandele private collection is the most significant testimony in pictures, mainly black and white, to the demolition of historic monuments and districts in the Romanian capital in the period of late communism. Together with photographs that are essential for the preservation of the memory of a mutilated city and a vanished cultural heritage, the collection also includes a series of images capturing aspects of the degradation everyday life throughout the profound crisis of the 1980s. These suggest both the absurdity of the policies of the Ceaușescu regime and the grotesque mutations in the everyday routine of ordinary people to which these policies gave rise.
Collection of the Ideological Commission of the Central C...
Collection of the Ideological Commission of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Croatia (1956 - 1965)
In the collection of the Ideological Commission of the League of Communists of Croatia (IC LCC) (1956-1965), a number of documents illustrate the IC LCC's view of ideologically inappropriate occurrences in cultural creativity (art, literature, film), the media (the press, radio and television), education and science in Croatia. This commission had the task of monitoring, analysing and directing overall activity in these areas, issuing its directives and establishing staffs in all major institutions and organizations. In this way, it also reacted to ideological currents that did not align with the accepted direction, and it thereby became the deciding factor in cultural policy in Croatia.
"Vidici" [Horizons] was one of the most prominent Yugoslav magazines for literature and culture. During the socialist period the journal was often targeted by the authorities and repeatedly banned, due to its criticism of the Communist party’s social and cultural policies. The magazine "Vidici" is kept as part of the collection "Periodicals", and does not represent a separate library unit. All the available numbers are kept in two institutions - the National Library of Serbia and the University Library of Belgrade.
Tamás Szőnyei worked as a music journalist in Budapest in the 1980s, and his poster collection documenting the underground music scene, especially new wave and punk, is one of the largest in Hungary. Posters were designed in a large part by the contemporary artists playing in the bands. This is a private collection that was digitized by Artpool Art Research Center, and the originals are regularly borrowed for thematic exhibitions in Hungary and elsewhere.
Video and Audio Library of the Literary Archive of the Mu...
Video and Audio Library of the Literary Archive of the Museum of Czech Literature
The video and audio library of the Literary Archive of the Museum of Czech Literature consists of audio and video recordings of Czech poets and writers from 1932 until 2013; the collection also covers the literary scene in Czechoslovakia before 1989, including the activities of unofficial or “banned” writers and artists and their work in exile. One important part of the collection are recordings made between 1990 and 2013 as part of the Authentic project, which focused on recording videos and audios from various spheres of the Czech literary scene.
The private collection, established in 2016, presents the life and work of Sevdalina Panayotova. It shows this literature teacher, theater director, public figure, and citizen daily and consistent opposition to the hypocrisy of the structures of state socialism and against the status quo. Sevdalina Panayotova, a teacher and cultural activist, was neither a well-known writer, director, nor a popular dissident, but her whole life and creativity was a rebellion against the attempt of the socialist state to impose narrow standards and norms on everyday life and thinking, a rebellion against pseudo-morals and pseudo-arts, against the principles of socialist realism in literature and theatrical art.The collection of books, scripts, photos from theatrical productions, interviews given by Sevdalina Panayotova and interviews with her, published articles, among others, shows an "ordinary" life of civil and cultural opposition. Sevdalina Panayotova pursued opposition through critical themes in literature and theater as well as through the use of innovative means of expression by resisting against imposed artistic forms. The collection highlights individual estrangement from the socialist state, the dynamics of criticism, and the risks criticism entailed for "ordinary" people. The collection shows the attempt of a "life of truth" and of repeated defiance borne out of a strong moral stance. It is also a good example of a small family collection that maintains personal memories without having a grand political agenda.
20 x 34 cm (29 x 43 cm framed), photos, cardboard, velour, acrylic, pearls
Three photos underlie the composition, arranged onto one surface, decorated with paint and pearls. The main members of the circle of friends are shown in the photos: Prince January (János Baksa Soós) in the upper section, Zuzu (Lóránt Méhes) and his girlfriend, Kriszta Kecskés, in the middle, and János Vető below.
The composition evokes an ideal situation where companionship is complete. Prince January lived in Berlin, visited Budapest only once a year, mostly in autumn, stayed usually for a month. He sent the featured photo by mail, an intentionally decomposed snapshot made with an instant camera; only half of his face is seen in the frame.
Zuzu and Kriszta are in synch with each other in terms of clothes and attitude. The selection criterion for the photo was that it emanates the atmosphere of the era. Zuzu smokes on his joint, Kriszta embraces him, as the love seat embraces them too.
The photo of János Vető is dramatic, not only because it is black and white: the image was taken after a serious car accident (a couple of years ago), his shoulder, chest, and left arm are in cast. Appropriate to the situation, his face is serious, and he is the only one looking into the camera.
According to the author’s comment, it is a spontaneously created, handcrafted composition. First the photos were attached to the cardboard, then the paint, pearls, glass, and velour were added. “I felt like a folk artist during production,” commented Zuzu, “like a shepherd, decorated as much as possible.”
The finished picture was then hanged in the hall of his apartment. January was moved a bit by seeing it. Later he also made a composition in response, with an image of Zuzu also sent to him in the mail. He too cultivated a craftsman’s attitude. They were following the work of each other. He even depicted Zuzu as a duke for his drawing series, “Primeval Light – Pathway.”
Maróthy, János. Zene és polgár, zene és proletár [Music a...
Maróthy, János. Zene és polgár, zene és proletár [Music and Bourgeois, Music and Proletar], 1966. Book
There were changes in the history of Hungarian scholarship on music in the 1960s. Researchers started to analyze the personal and collective dimension of the reception and to think about how the historical past could be interpreted through popular music.
The two symbolic dates were 1962 and 1966. In 1962, József Ujfalussy’s book A valóság zenei képe [The Musical Image of Reality] was published, in which he examines the texture of the music and the places and ways in which it was presented. In 1966, János Maróthy’s major work, Zene és polgár, zene és proletár [Music and Bourgeois, Music and Proletarian], was published. In his book, he elaborated on the different types of music in the twentieth century. He studied the relationships between the bourgeois worldview and bourgeois music, as well as connections between the folk song and bourgeois music forms and historical types of the folk song. In his book, Maróthy dedicated a section to the relationships between folk and mass music, emphasizing the music of the workers and trying to examine the effects of folk music on workers’ culture. Maróthy turned away from the main directions of the local discussions on jazz. He was interested in the social roots of this type of music, its relationships to folk music, and its labor movement backgrounds. This book is one of Maróthy’s publications which had effects on later research methods.
Personal notes of the Founder, In: ’Yearbook of Soros Fou...
Personal notes of the Founder, In: ’Yearbook of Soros Foundaton–Hungary 1984-1985’, 1985. Publication
“The Founder’s personal notes”
In: The Yearbook of the Soros Foundation, Hungary 1984–1985
“It was not my choice that I was born in Hungary in 1930. However, it was my own deliberate decision, one of the most important ones in my life, that 17 years later I left this country. And my return with this foundation is but a late consequence of this early age choice.” These opening sentences are the most “personal” notes in the founder’s preface to the first yearbook of the Soros Foundation, Hungary (HSF) 1984–1985.
Soros used this opportunity to address the public freely (i.e. without much risk of being censored) and share authentic information and assert the principles on which his recently established foundation was based.
The was important in part simply because in the first few years the foundation was given hardly any press coverage in communist Hungary except for some short official statements published in dailies, according to which a New York stock investor had signed a contract with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS) and opened a small office in the Buda Castle district to receive applications for grants and other forms of support. Apart from this, no reports were printed and no interviews were done in the print and broadcast media. Even in 1987, Soros and his secretary staff still had to fight for the right to publish lists of successful grantees at least in HVG (the three-letter abbreviation used for an earlier title of the same periodical, Heti Világgazdaság, or “Weekly World Economy”), an economic weekly. The first principle Soros insisted on, thus, was the importance of free and permanent control by the pubic (instead of by the party and the secret police) of the operations of his foundation. Similarly, he asserted a number of other safeguards as a founder. He maintained the right to choose his personal colleagues, to decide on his own on the amount of his yearly donations to be spent (which began at one million dollars and grew to nine million dollars by 1990), and to exercise a veto in all strategic or personnel decisions, i.e. decisions concerning curators, projects, grants, prizes, etc.
As for the applications and projects, Soros readily informed the public about ongoing practice and plans for the future. The foundation wished to maintain the individual system of both dollar-based and forint-based grants and support. The Literary and Social Science grant systems were running successfully, but they also planned to test and introduce some new projects which offered support for study abroad and research grants and support for conferences, as well as funding for filmmakers, theater groups, and artists active in the fine arts. Applicants who fell in other categories were equally welcome to submit inventive workplans and new, creative initiatives.
Finally, Soros sought and offered a confident partnership to all: “We need the help of the larger public, after, all the success of our foundation can only be ensured by the applicants’ talent and inventiveness, and the reactions of Hungarian society.”
In 1963 the painter and graphic artist Roger Loewig was arrested following his first privately organised exhibition in East-Berlin. Throughout the regime, Loewig denied socialist realism artistic forms of production, while his artworks were considered subversive. After almost one year of imprisonment, Loewig was released in the GDR with the support from the Protestant Church from West Germany. Loewig’s release on three years probation could not be prevented. It was only 1972 that the artist could leave the GDR and settled in West-Berlin. Following his death in 1997, Loewig’s private fine-arts collection was bestowed by the Roger Loewig Association. This was founded in 1998 in Frankfurt Oder. Since 2000 the fine-arts legacy of the artist is preserved by the Federal Foundation for Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship. This aims at facilitating the scientific documentation and preservation of Loewig' artistic legacy. The literary and biographical works are currently on hold at the Academy of Arts in Berlin.
Mala Jole (Little Jole) from 1955 is the first feature film by Nikša Fulgosi, produced by Jadran Film. The film was shot in Hvar, in black and white technique. The recording of this comedy about the female captain of a ship who became a "boss" to men was aborted after direct intervention by Ivo Vrhovac, the new general director of Jadran Film.
According to the testimony of actress Ksenija Urličić, the official explanation for the cessation of production and the ‘lock-down’ of the film was an interpretation according to which a "socialist sailor was shown in the wrong light" (Tko je taj Nikša Fulgosi? Who is that Niksa Fulgosi?).
The Berlin Archive "Song and Social Movements" collects reports from the GDR singer- and songwriter movement from the 1960s onwards. The materials that are managed by a non-profit organization show how difficult it can be to investigate cultural opposition between the extremes of supporting and opposing the state.
Costina, Sorin. How I became a collector, in Romanian, 19...
Costina, Sorin. How I became a collector, in Romanian, 1989. Unpublished manuscript
In May 1989, Dr Sorin Costina decided to sum up on paper the principal steps by which his passion for collecting art had developed. The result of this effort of memory is an eleven-page text, typed single-spaced, in which are mentioned the most important landmarks of an unusual and spectacular passion. “Also in the years 1962 to 1963 I had my first contacts (as Paul Neagu puts it) with thevisual, or the visual arts. A first shock, an exhibition from the Dresden Galleries seen at the Museum of the Republic (I still remember the reviews, my favourite magazine in those years: second-rate works and rather weak with the exception of Titian’s Lady in White). For what I was then, it was a great festive event,” recalls Sorin Costina, speaking of one of his first encounters with the visual arts. He places his first encounter with contemporary art two years later: “Finally, my first contacts with contemporary art took place in Iaşi in 1965.” According to his notes, on 16 August 1969 he bought his first picture, The Bridge of the Turk, a scene in the old town of Sibiu by Ferdinand Mazanek. The price was 138 lei. His records of his purchases of items of visual art were kept in detail until 1989. According to this unpublished document, Sorin Costina bought most of the works that today make up his private art collection from galleries and studios in Bucharest. The last sentence of this testimony is particularly relevant for the way in which Sorin Costina conceived his own collection: “The marginalisation of all that is best in Romanian culture explains my ability to approach these figures of great value while unfortunately not rising to their level.” Small extracts from this document (which is also an account of the life of Dr Sorin Costina) have been cited in various texts about Sorin Costina’s life or within several autobiographical texts by the author himself. The text has never been published in its entirety. The manuscript is to be found in Sorin Costina’s private collection.
Jan Čep Collection of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre
Jan Čep Collection of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre
Jan Čep (1902-1974) was one of the most prominent representatives of modern Czech prose. His collection contains his manuscripts of radio reflections, which he wrote for Czechoslovak Radio Free Europe. Through his reflections, he tried to face totalitarianism and spiritually strengthen people "at home".
Blatný, Ivan. Old Addresses, in Czech, 1979. Typescript
Blatný, Ivan. Old Addresses, in Czech, 1979. Typescript
In 1977, English nurse Frances Meacham began to collect Ivan Blatný’s manuscripts of poems. She also sent some poems to Josef Škvorecký, a Czech writer living in exile in Toronto, Canada. Škvorecký decided to publish Blatný’s poems and thus, the collection of poems Old Addresses (Stará bydliště) was issued by the Czechoslovak exile publishing house Sixty-Eight Publishers in 1979. The collection was compiled during years 1978 and 1979 by Czech poet Antonín Brousek, who emigrated to West Germany in 1969. In accordance with Josef Škvorecký’s request, Brousek intentionally did not include multilingual and “modern” poems. On the contrary, he chose rather lyrical poems that resembled Ivan Blatný’s texts from the beginning of the 1940s. Josef Škvorecký justified this decision stating that their clients (readers of books issued by the publishing house Sixty-Eight Publishers) are usually “elder emigrants, who already had preconceived notions about poetry”. Although Old Addresses did not reflect Blatný’s modern style, the issue of this collection in 1979 was crucial. It resulted in better knowledge of Blatný and his work in exile, and Blatný was rediscovered by Czechoslovak readers, mainly those in exile and dissent circles. This book circulated in Czechoslovakia, where it was disseminated through illegal typescript copies. As Czech literary historian Jiří Rambousek stated later, it “created a small literary sensation.” Thus, it was not surprising that Old Addresses was also published by the Czechoslovak samizdat edition “Czech Expedition”. Moreover, it encouraged Blatný himself to continue in his literary work. Since 1989, this collection has officially been published in Czechoslovakia, and later in the Czech Republic, four times (1992, 1997, 2002 and 2014).
The Museum of Czech Literature possesses a copy of the typescript of the collection Stará bydliště (Old Addresses) with handwritten notes.
Đekić, Velid. Interior of the Husar Club in Rijeka, 2010....
Đekić, Velid. Interior of the Husar Club in Rijeka, 2010. Photograph
The Husar Club was founded by the Club of Friends of Popular Music Rijeka in 1957. In the Husar, young people gathered to "dance to music from LP records." Beginning in 1962, the first rock bands in Rijeka performed in the club. The club operated until 1964 and is considered as the first disco club in Croatia and one of the first in Europe. The establishment of this club heralded the creation of the rock and disco culture movement as a counterculture in socialist Yugoslavia.
The Doina Cornea Private Collection is an invaluable historical source for those researching the biography and especially the dissident activities of the person labelled by the Western mass media as the “emblematic figure” of the Romanian resistance to Ceauşescu’s dictatorship. This collection comprises manuscripts of her open letters of protest, her diary, samizdat translations, correspondence, drafts of her academic works, photos, paintings, video recordings, and her personal library. This private collection is by far one of the most significant and valuable collections reflecting the cultural opposition to the Romanian communist regime.
“After the reaction of the state apparatus, Slobodan Tišma cancelled his public art practice and, together with Čedomir Drča, created several works and staged several performances that focused deeply on the death of utopian projects and the end of modernism. It was interesting that after the state’s reaction most of the artists, sooner or later, reduced their presence within the cultural scene, some amongst them stopped working or started to symbolically respond to the new situations that surrounded them. There were works like Invisible Art, Invisible Band and Invisible Artist that were part of a time-based performance called The End that took place between 1972 and 1977. During this period Slobodan Tišma and Čedomir Drča drank American Coca-Cola and Russian kvass every day with friends in front of a local store. This performance presented an ideological and political dimension for the desired autonomy of art; declaring the avantgarde’s artistic acknowledgment of the defeat of art in the battle with the ideological state apparatus.” (The Continuous Art Class, 2005, p. 19 – 20).
This took place during rehearsal breaks of the bands they formed during these years. There is very little photo documentation of this period both because photography was expensive and because the participants themselves did not give too much importance to these performances. One of the few photographs from this period is in the possession of Čedomir Drča, and it depicts him wearing a T-shirt with the inscription The End.
Era Milivojević, Taping the Artist, 1971/2007, performanc...
Era Milivojević, Taping the Artist, 1971/2007, performance, Student Cultural Centre
Era Milivojević first carried out the work ‘Taping the Slave’ in 1969, followed by ‘Taping the Mirror’, while his first performance, ‘Taping the Artist’, was staged at the exhibition in 1971. In the words of the artist, a performance is created by including the person in the work itself. This is a photograph of the performance enacted in the Student Cultural Centre in Belgrade. The photograph records the creation of a living sculpture produced by the artist himself, Era Milivojević, in collaboration with another artist, Marina Abramović – the taped artist.
The work was incorporated into the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2007 thanks to funding provided by the City Assembly of Belgrade.
Cassette covers of unofficial Czechoslovak music groups from the 1980s, 1988. Book
The Audiovisual Section of Libri Prohibiti contains three “books” – sheaves of paper – made from covers of cassettes of unofficial music groups from 1980s Czechoslovakia. The sheaves were made by the State Security (StB) from items confiscated during the prosecution of Petr Cibulka, a political activist and collector. During the 1980s, Cibulka recorded both concerts and amateur studio recordings, which he then produced and distributed in his samizdat record label S.T.C.V. (Samizdat Tapes & Cassettes & Video). Cibulka’s collection – hundreds of recordings and covers – was probably the biggest private collection before 1989. Cibulka was, because of these activities, sued in 1988 and imprisoned for “unjust enrichment” and his collection was confiscated by StB. The sheaves should have been evidence of his activities. A lot of original cassette covers were made from photo paper. The “books” therefore testify to the originality of producers of samizdat recordings. The item was presented on the travelling exhibition COURAGE “Risk Factors: Collections of Cultural Opposition” between 21 September and 28 October 2018 in the National Monument in Vítkov, Prague.
Mihajlov, Mihajlo. “Moscow Summer” (in English), 1965. Ma...
Mihajlov, Mihajlo. “Moscow Summer” (in English), 1965. Manuscript
The manuscript of Mihajlov's travels, “Moscow Summer,” written in English is in the box 28. The text was the fruit of Mihajlov's visit to the Soviet Union in the summer months of 1964. Mihajlov supported Nikita Khrushchev's reforms and the program of de-Stalinisation, and he criticized the changes in the Soviet leadership after Kruschev’s fall. This criticism alarmed those in charge of Yugoslavia’s foreign policy, since it could once more undermine Soviet-Yugoslav relations, which had normalized in the mid-1950s.
Referring to the publication of the first two essays of this book, Tito himself called out Mihajlov in February 1965 as a result of pressure from the Soviet ambassador due to his criticism of the new political course following the fall of Khrushchev in the autumn of 1964. Despite censorship of Mihajlov’s essays in Yugoslavia, American politicians and the public were interested in Mihajlov's case precisely because of his stance on the Soviet Union during the political upheavals in the upper echelons of the Soviet party in those years.
The Alternative Theatre Archive is a research and archival project led by the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw with support of the KARTA Center Foundation. Its aim is to collect, gather in one location and digitize documents, prints, recordings, photographs and all other archival materials on the alternative theatre movement in Poland in the 1970s and the 1980s.
The beginnings of the Video Studio Gdansk are connected to the I National Congress of “Solidarity”, organised in Gdansk in 1981. At first, the independent “Solidarity” filmmakers documented the union’s most important events, however soon the first documentaries were produced. Video Studio Gdansk has been operating for almost 40 years, and its archive today consists of several thousands of video materials. It mostly comprises own videos, created by the Studio: raw footages (of the most important oppositional events, like strikes, clashes, protests), documentaries, reportages, few feature films, and numerous recordings of television theatre, public debates, cultural events, etc.
Mattis-Teutsch, Hans. Manual workers and intellectuals, [...
Mattis-Teutsch, Hans. Manual workers and intellectuals, . Painting
The work belongs to Hans Mattis-Teutsch’s constructivist period. According to the art historian Gheorghe Vida, constructivism was assimilated by Mattis-Teutsch at the time of his involvement in the Romanian avant-garde during the 1920s and at the beginning of the 1930s (Vida 2009, 80). During this period, Mattis-Teutsch collaborated closely with groups of avant-garde artists formed around the cultural publications Contimporanul, Integral and Alge, sharing the artistic vision of these groups, as well as their socialist views. His artistic vision marked by constructivism was theorised in his work Kunstideologie. Stabilität und Aktivität im Kunstwerk published in interwar Germany (Mattis-Teutsch 1931). This vision, which sees art as a “messenger” of the “new man” in the “technological era without traditions,” is marked by the mobility and rhythm of modern life (Mattis-Teutsch 1977, 76–79). The work and rhythms specific to modern man are also central themes in this painting from the end of the 1920s, and the title of the work is a direct reference to the relationship between intellectuals and the proletariat in Marxist ideology. As with all the works of Hans Mattis-Teutsch created during the interwar period, this item could not be displayed during the 1950s due to the fact that the avant-garde techniques were in contradiction with socialist realism.
Lebel, Jean-Jacques. Hommage a Robert Filliou, 4 April, 1...
Lebel, Jean-Jacques. Hommage a Robert Filliou, 4 April, 1998, Artpool P60. Performance
Performing in the space of Filliou’s reconstructed Poipoidrom, Jean-Jacques Lebel (one of the first European happeningers), informs the audience of the installations history to music performed by a live Roma band. (Many foreign curators and art collectors were present in the audience, as they were enjoying a short visit to Budapest). Lebel pointed to the freedom of art and the ineffectiveness of museums (the installation was kept in storage in a museum between 1976 and 1998 without being displayed on a single occasion). Lebel drew attention to the ability of the Galántai-Klaniczay partnership “to make things happen,” and he also expressed his deep appreciation of the underground era of Artpool.
Unknown author. Jazz festival poster, in Romanian, April ...
Unknown author. Jazz festival poster, in Romanian, April 1969
The concert poster giving details of the concerts that were to be held as part of the first Jazz Festival in communist Romania is one of the earliest in the Mihai Manea collection. It is almost half a century old; it dates from 1969 and is preserved in very good condition. The poster provides concert information for the days of 4, 5, and 6 April 1969, when a series of jazz performances took place in the Philharmonic Hall in Ploieşti. Among the participants were a number of prestigious groups and artists in the genre from various places in Romania, who gathered for an exceptional show at a jazz festival that was very well-known and appreciated in communist Romania. Among them were the Richard Oschanitzki quartet and the Ștefan Berindei sextet, both from Bucharest, Jazz Club from Roman, Big Band from Cluj-Napoca (at the time simply named Cluj), the Choralys octet from Constanţa, the Robert Kovacs trio and the Robert Movsessian trio, both from Ploiești, the Free Jazz trio from Timișoara, and the soloists Elena Constantinescu and Aura Urziceanu. The concert poster is printed on thick paper and has a white background on which horizontal yellow lines are discretely traced. The text is placed within a well marked frame and is in the two colours that are most common in the Mihai Manea collection: red and blue. The quality of the poster, even if it is not extraordinary, contrasts with that of those from later years, which were printed on paper of worse and worse quality and became less and less elaborate from an aesthetic point of view.
Materials of the 5th Congress of the Latvian Soviet Write...
Materials of the 5th Congress of the Latvian Soviet Writers' Union in 1965
At the 5th Congress of the Latvian Soviet Writers' Union in December 1965, the younger generation of writers and the more liberal section of the older generation managed to oust from the Union's Executive Board the five most notorious defenders of Socialist Realism and the Communist Party line in literature. A more liberal leadership of the Union was elected. In speeches at the congress, the younger generation of writers spoke out in favor of more creative freedom, against censorship, for the rehabilitation of the pre-Soviet literary heritage, and about the possibilities of getting more information about Latvian exile literature and world literature in general, and protested against the ban on the Jāņi midsummer festival. Although the Latvian Communist Party Central Committee was unhappy with the results of the congress, it had to put up with them. The congress was an important turning point in Latvian literature, and in the history of the Writers' Union, which changed from being an obedient follower of the Communist Party into an organization which was willing and able (although within certain limits) to defend creative freedom and the national culture.
The Balys Sruoga collection holds various documents, including notes, manuscripts and correspondence with other Lithuanian writers. The documents illustrate well the situation of intellectuals and writers in Soviet Lithuania under Stalin. The manuscript of Sruoga’s novel Dievų miškas (The Forest of the Gods), written in 1945, is especially valuable. The manuscript was very severely criticised by the authorities and heavily censored. It was only published in Soviet Lithuania in 1957.
Molnár, Gergely and István Rész. Anna Frank Memorial Even...
Molnár, Gergely and István Rész. Anna Frank Memorial Evening by Spions, 1978. Poster
This offset poster represents a significant event both in the history of the Hungarian new wave and in Tamás Szőnyei’s personal story. This was the first item of Szőnyei’s collection. He received it as a present from his painter brother, György Szőnyei. The poster advertised an art-punk act by a certain “Anton Ello” and “Pierre Violence,” who are Gergely Molnár and Péter Hegedűs of the band Spions. They used pseudonyms and their band’s name, Donauer Video Familie (that eventually turned into the not less ironic Spions), was not displayed either. The potential audience would have had little clue of what to expect.
The event was entitled Anne Frank Memorial Evening, and the name Anne Frank appeared on the poster as well. One of the band’s songs was “Anne Frank’s Dream,” which is a violent apocalyptic vision: it is initially about a coercive sexual act with Anne Frank before the Nazis discover her. The text is also open to a variety of figural meanings, one being that the perpetrator is the totalitarian political power itself and listeners of the song are all Anne Franks whose best chance for gratification is to be assaulted before the quickly approaching death. “No future?”—the poster questioned with an homage to the Sex Pistols.
The band Spions had a huge impact on the new wave in Hungary, despite the fact that they could not release an album, and performed no more than two (!) times in Budapest and on one single occasion in the city of Pécs. The band grew out of a lecture series on the history of rock music that was held under the auspices of the Society for Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge (TIT), an institution of public education supervised by the Ministry of Culture. The lecturer was Gergely Molnár, who analyzed texts by Lou Reed, David Bowie, Roxy Music, and the Kraftwerk in an event at the Ganz-Mávag factory, House of Culture in April 1977. The opening and closing acts were songs performed by students of the Music Academy, Péter Hegedűs and György Kurtág Jr. Hegedűs approached Molnár to start a band, and they wrote a bunch of songs together. The event advertised on the poster was their first performance. It happened at the University Stage (Egyetemi Színpad) that was founded in September 1957 by the Loránd Eötvös University of Budapest. The Stage was one of the few official spaces where alternative performing acts and concerts could be held. The proto-Spions was the first art-punk band on this venue. The audience was small, but the songs had a greater impact than they ever imagined. These were formative experiences for such cult bands as Kontroll Csoport, Európa Kiadó, or URH, and their inspirational, witty songs were played throughout the 1980s.
The performance at the University Stage, however, was interrupted by the director of the venue, who went to the stage and explained that the concert had to be cancelled because of “technical reasons.” There is no clear evidence that the disruption was politically motivated, though witnesses say that it did sound bad. Nevertheless, it was made into a political issue by the artists when the next concert was advertised with a poster that used the image of the director of the University Stage interrupting the first performance. The poster contained another direct provocation to the officialdom of the regime. It featured the song “Ungvári Tamás” that bears the name of a famous public intellectual of the Kádár regime as its title. Ungvári was notorious for committing large numbers of factual mistakes in his works, which was noticed by many at the time; but this alone, perhaps, would not have provoked Molnár to devote an entire song to him. But Ungvári also aspired to write on popular music and counterculture with no fewer mistakes: fans, for instance, counted over 3,000 factual mistakes in his bestselling book on The Beatles. Such things, and Ungvári’s antipathy towards the alternative scene, inspired the lines by the Spions: “you mixed up, Tamás / Lennon with Lenin, Tamás / alliteration, Tamás / not politika, Tamás / but poetica, Tamás.”
The Spions provoked the interest of the political police, and there is extensive reporting on Molnár and his circle’s activities in the Historical Archives of the State Security Services (ÁBTL). For instance, Molnár’s private English teacher regularly informed on him, and the agent was instructed to provide a lot of homework for the musician in order to keep him busy and prevent him from “subverting” the system. Extensive practice of verb conjugation paid off well for Molnár: he emigrated to Canada in 1978 and never looked back. Hegedűs also left Hungary, coming back only after the regime change. The memory of the short-lived Spions and their songs, however, remained in the country and inspired an entire generation of new wave artists.
The central part of the painting shows artist Mića Popović with his back turned, looking onto a dynamic scene. A group of agitated animals, apes, is depicted in front of him, which he is passively observing. The ape is a frequent motif in this series of scenes. The ape is the animal closest to the human being. According to Darwin’s theory, ape and man can be traced to a common ancestor. Apes often imitate human movements. The picture reproduces Popović’s pessimistic relationship to the world and modern society. The expressions of the agitated animals suggest approaching danger, alluding to society and the despair and uncertainty looming in the modern world. This is a metaphor for social management in late socialism. Both people and society may be likened to apes. It is a pessimistic fable of the present and the future. Here, the artist is the observer and witness of events. The work presents a realistic image of the modern world.
Knížák, Milan. Attacks: Book on the "Aktual" group activi...
Knížák, Milan. Attacks: Book on the "Aktual" group activities (happenings), 1962-1969. Manuscript (object)
Milan Knížák is a significant Czech action artist. Since the beginning of the 1960s, he started with performance art – happenings, that were realised mostly in the streets of Prague. Their goal was to connect art and common life. Participants, that were, according to Knížák, the main and irreplaceable bearers of actions of these performances, were engaged in the game while the happenings interfered their lives. The events, according to Knížák’s interpretation, therefore could not have been fictive but had to be what they really were. Knížák also realized several installations – short-term exhibitions – in the streets of Prague, some of them were photographically documented. Knížák and his friends founded a group called “Aktuální umění” (Actual Art), later known as “Aktual”, in 1963. At the end of the 1960s and during the 1970s, Knížák’s actions got more ceremonial and ritual character. Some of the actions of the group Actual from 1962–1969 were documented by Knížák in a unique documentary book “Útoky" (The Attacks) with original and nonconformist artistic concepts; he sold the book, together with another one – “Hry a obřady” (The Games and the Ceremonial) – also documenting actions of Aktual during the 1960s, to the Museum of Czech Literature in March 1971. Similar documentary books were created by Knížák starting in 1964 and became a medium of the artist’s expression and documentation of his work, thoughts and feelings. The books used to have impractical covers (made of cement, wires or nails) to “not die in a library”. They contained original documents, scripts of the actions, texts, photos, drawings, collages, personal belongings or pieces of art works. Knížák’s documentary books (he created dozens of them) were therefore documents and pieces of art at the same time. “Útoky: Kniha akcí Aktualu 1962–1969” is a part of the Literary Archive of the Museum of Czech Literature until today and together with Knížák’s book “Hry a obřady Aktualu 1963–1969” forms the Milan Knížák Collection.
The “Sixtiers Museum” Collection is located in a small museum in Kyiv, Ukraine in a building belonging to the Ukrainian political party Rukh. Nadia Svitlychna and Mykola Plakhotniuk founded this museum as way of honouring and documenting the struggles of a cohort of Soviet Ukrainian dissidents during the 1960s-1980s. Included in the permanent exhibition are paintings, graphics, sculptures, embroidery and other artworks produced by artists affiliated with the sixtiers movement. The museum also displays the poems, letters and literary works of the writers in their midst, as well as their typewriters, handcrafted items made while in the GULag, or clothes worn while living in exile, like Svitlychna’s own camp uniform. Also figuring prominently are posters for events and exhibitions organized by this group. The guided tour is a moving, concise rendition of their struggle, aimed at the museum’s target audiences, young students, scholars, and the general public.
These materials depict the lives of a dynamic group of Soviet Ukrainians engaged in a principled creative and ideological struggle with the Soviet regime in the 1960s and 1970s. They were poets, artists, graphic designers, historians, doctors, and even a Soviet army official, all of whom became deeply involved in human rights activism under late socialism. Many were members of large Soviet institutions—like the Ukrainian writers and artist unions, the Literary Institute in Kyiv, the Soviet armed forces. The Soviet government’s ideological retrenchment after Khrushchev transformed these dissidents, who had worked hard to try and reform the system and make it more humane, into individuals in open conflict with the authorities.
The Radostné srdce band recorded the Malý Dávid 1 [Little David 1] album in an illegal studio in the basement of a private house in Bratislava. The album was released on cassettes and distributed to the youth.
György Kemény, Catalogue of Pál Deim's Exhibition, 1974
The Irina Margareta Nistor Private Collection includes a series of written documents, together with a few dozen VHS video cassettes preserving a small part of the Western films that were introduced clandestinely into Romania between 1985 and 1989, to be translated and dubbed and then distributed on video cassettes (semi)clandestinely. This collection epitomises a popular culture phenomenon without any equivalent in Eastern Europe, which emerged in Romania as a reaction to the reduction of the official programme broadcast on television channels to just two hours per day and to news broadcasts about the activity of Nicolae Ceauşescu and the leadership of the Romanian Communist Party.
The Libri Prohibiti’s collection of foreign samizdat monographs and periodicals contains mainly Slovak and Polish samizdat literature. Russian samizdat and periodicals from the former German Democratic Republic are marginally represented.
The collection is about the life, work and activities of the famous Lithuanian humanist Meilutė Lukšienė. Although she is well known in Lithuania as the initiator and creator of the concept of the Lithuanian National School, and as an active member of Sąjūdis (the national movement) in the late 1980s, Lukšienė was also involved in cultural opposition during Soviet times. She was a key figure who promoted lithuanianisation at Vilnius University as early as the 1950s. Accused of 'bourgeois nationalism', she was dismissed from the post of head of the Department of Lithuanian Literature in 1958.
The case of “Rock Compass” is a typical example of how a music brochure in the 1980s could be published semi-legally or as a quasi samizdat. A Rock Club hosted by the Youth Club of Pécs since 1983 gave an opportunity for this kind of publication by publishing a kind of information bulletin (or franzine) for its members. The “program guide” printed in 1984 presented, for instance, Laurie Anderson and the second album of the band Bikini (“Twentieth-Century Newsreel”), and it also published an article by Koszits on the local event Art Rock New Wave Festival, which included a concert by the band Trabant. It is astonishing that printed material like this could be published at the time with neither preliminary and nor after-the-fact permission from the censors. The afterlife of ’Rock Compass’ was nevertheless strange, since there was also a survey published on club members’ interest in the bulletin, which, for some reason, caught the attention of the local police. Koszits was interrogated some secret agents responsible for “the protection of youth.” They asked him several questions about new trends in music, including punk, new wave, hard rock, and especially black rock, which the authorities regarded, because of its name, as somehow the most dubious novelty. Koszits eventually managed to calm them and reassure them that the Rock Club in Pécs was not a meeting place for Satanist kids. Still, this remained the one and only issue of “Rock Compass,” and Koszits and friends could not publish any more issues.
(Presented at Fluxus Flags on the Liszt Ferenc square, Liszt Ferenc square, Budapest, September 25-October 11, 1992)
The flags as Fluxus objects were realized as responses to the announcement in which Artpool invited 100 artists to participate in the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Fluxus. Artpool received responses from 42 artists from 18 countries, whose flags were presented in the open-air exhibition on Liszt Ferenc square. Flags by Eric Andersen, Anna Banana, Vittore Baroni, Reid Wood, Július Koller, Bálint Szombathy, Endre Tót, etc. were being shown.http://www.artpool.hu/Fluxus/flag/index.html
The Jan and Meda Mládek collection is the core of Museum Kampa exhibition. Besides works by František Kupka, an “undesirable artist” during the communist era, there is a broad collection of other works by artists from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland that do not follow the official socialist style.
The informal group of the Six Artists consisted of Raša Todosijević, Era Milivojević, Marina Abramović, Zoran Popović, Neša Paripović and Gergelj Urkom. The work of these artists began with the establishment of the Student Cultural Center in Belgrade in 1971. It lasted to 1973, when each of them started working independently. Their artistic activity was above all a resistance to the existing practice that was being taught in the framework of school programs at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade. They advocated the establishment of a modern approach to the reconstruction and functioning of artistic institutions, as well as to redefining the effects of art. The accent started to be set on the artist as a subject and to his authorial speech, "speech in the first place". The artists began to introduce new media into art (installation, bodybuilding, photography, film, text ...).
The Memory of Nations is an extensive online collection of the memories of witnesses, which is being developed throughout Europe by individuals, organizations, schools and institutions. It preserves and makes available the collections of memories of witnesses who have agreed that their testimony should serve to explore modern history and be publicly accessible. The collection includes testimonies of communism resistance, holocaust survival, artists of alternative culture and underground and many others.
Letter of Petru Lucinschi to the Central Committee of the...
Letter of Petru Lucinschi to the Central Committee of the CPM (in Russian), 11 December 1970
Following the official decision to disband Noroc in September 1970, the members of this group found a temporary job at the Tambov Philharmonic Orchestra in Central Russia. This provoked a swift reaction on the part of the Moldavian Party establishment. Three months later, in December 1970, the leader of the Moldavian Komsomol (and future high Party dignitary and later president of the Republic of Moldova in 1997–2001), Petru Lucinschi, sent an official letter to his superiors in the Central Committee complaining about Noroc’s continued existence and frequent tours organised in various Soviet cities, despite its harmful ideological impact on “Soviet youth.” It is rather doubtful that this initiative came from Lucinschi himself. It was probably a move orchestrated by the Party leadership in order to legitimise its further actions and claim that it had support from below, i.e., from the representatives of the republic’s youth. In his letter, Lucinschi uses the customary Soviet jargon, claiming that Noroc “deviated more and more from the generally accepted norms of behaviour” expected from a Soviet musical group. The band is directly accused of ignoring the officially approved “programme, which suffered significant changes, especially in those cases when Noroc had tours beyond the republic’s borders.” Lucinschi does not fail to mention the “discontent” regarding Noroc’s “repertoire and behaviour” expressed in various letters sent to the Komsomol and local newspapers, invoking the public’s reaction as a legitimising strategy. The main grievance against Noroc and its musical style, in the Komsomol leader’s interpretation, concerns “the ethics of behaviour during the concerts and the quality of the repertoire.” In a revealing phrase deciphering these cryptic remarks, Lucinschi openly states that the band’s condemnation by the authorities derives from its “performances of musical pieces mainly authored by various English, French, Italian, and American Beatles” (sic!). This letter is also interesting due to Lucinschi’s parallel between Noroc and a similar Soviet musical group – the Leningrad-based band Poiushchie gitary (Singing Guitars), which also featured Western beat and rock music in its repertoire, coupled with modern arrangements of traditional Russian songs. Referring to a recent concert by the Poiushchie gitary held in Chișinău, Lucinschi hints at the danger represented by such musical trends, qualifying the Leningrad band’s music as “even more condemnable” that Noroc’s. This is due, on the one hand, to the “agitation among a certain part of our youth” (note the striking similarity to the language used by the letter from the Odessa party leadership). On the other hand, almost half of the songs performed during their concert “were borrowed from a different, foreign repertoire, completely alien to Soviet youth.” The real purpose of this letter becomes obvious from the seemingly innocuous conclusion, which states: “the republic’s youth is perplexed by the fact that this disbanded musical group was hired… by the Tambov Philharmonic orchestra and continues to tour the country… under its old name, Noroc.” The effect of this letter was immediate and radical: the members of Noroc were fired from the Tambov Orchestra and had to seek new employment in a small Ukrainian city. Lucinschi’s role in the whole affair was somewhat ambiguous: while playing the role of an ideological vigilante in December 1970, he was instrumental in assisting Noroc’s leader, Mihai Dolgan, to recreate the group under a new guise and name, Contemporanul (The Contemporary), in 1974. However, it is clear that Noroc’s deviation from the official ideological norms and its openness towards (and propagation of) Western musical trends were the real cause of the band’s demise. In an ironic twist, Lucinschi himself admitted, in a later interview, that the Noroc phenomenon became so popular due to its resonance with the wider youth subculture: “However hard the system tried, it could not control and curtail fashion, music, dances… i.e., the most elementary and necessary attributes of the young generation. Despite all the efforts made by the authorities, these things could not be stopped, because one simply could not stop the air we breathed. Two parallel worlds already existed in our society.” (Poiată 2013: 184).
KwieKulik is the name of an artistic duo formed by Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek. For twenty years they created performance, conceptual and process art, with politically engaged and critical undertones.Simultaneously, since the late 1960s, they regularly documented the artistic life of Poland, focusing on ephemeral phenomena. Currently the KwieKulik Archive is an enormous set of visual and film materials, publications, and works of art. By Zofia Kulik’s effort it was converted into an archive-piece, a collection which itself became a work of art.
The collection illustrates Adrian Marino’s intellectual evolution as a historian and literary critic who chose to pursue his activity outside the institutions controlled by the communist regime. The Marino Collection includes books, original manuscripts, and the author’s correspondence, which reflects a critical perspective on Romanian literary life in the period 1964–1989.