Room 001.09
Art Apartment

On the other side of the Iron Curtain was a series of artists looking to distance themselves from socialist realism and rethink the policy of creating artworks, and how they were exhibited and circulated beyond institutions. Opposite the control and curbed support of public bodies, apartments, studios, streets and other outdoor spaces became stages of encounter, places to produce and disseminate artistic productions. Some of these provocative actions and “anti-exhibitions” with subversive overtones would not take long to clash with the authorities.

Images of the room

Room 001.09 Room 001.09 Room 001.09
Room 001.09 Room 001.09

Room 001.09

On the other side of the Iron Curtain was a series of artists looking to distance themselves from socialist realism and rethink the policy of creating artworks, and how they were exhibited and circulated beyond institutions. Opposite the control and curbed support of public bodies, apartments, studios, streets and other outdoor spaces became stages of encounter, places to produce and disseminate artistic productions. Some of these provocative actions and “anti-exhibitions” with subversive overtones would not take long to clash with the authorities.

In the Soviet bloc, during the turbulent summer of 1968, Polish students and intellectuals took to the streets to call for greater freedom. After smothering the uprising, the government banned meetings of more than three people. Edward Krasinski and a group of friends reacted by defying the regime and organising Goodbye to Spring, a dance halfway between installation, happening and party. It was the point at which Krasinski, a prominent figure in Poland’s avant-garde art in the 1960s and 1970s, focused on transforming his immediate environment. With an interest in sculpture as line, he introduced blue adhesive tape into his work, a simple material used to connect different objects and spaces, one of which was his studio in Warsaw, where he lived, worked and hosted gatherings between artists, writers and intellectuals.

The studio of Geta Bratescu, one of the most important conceptual artists in Romania, became an artistic theme in its own. Bratescu spent much of her working life under the Communist regime and in Bucharest developed a profoundly personal practice centred on themes of identity and gender. Besides her own body, she incorporated simple, daily materials into her artistic and manual aesthetic, with her studio constituting at once a safe environment in which to create works independently and a moving space, the stage for actions and performances.

In non-aligned Yugoslavia, the work of Mladen Stilinović also questioned social, political and ideological norms, as well as art canons. From 1975 to 1979, he was part of a Zagreb-based collective which organised actions-exhibitions in public space. Stilinović drew from an array of technical and formal mediums — collages, paintings, photographs, artist’s books, installations, actions, films — to satirise realty, from the socialism of the former Yugoslavia to neoliberal capitalism, reaffirming the autonomy of the artist in relation to alienated labour and the society of production.

Sanja Iveković also began her artistic career in 1970s socialist Yugoslavia. Trokut (Triangle, 1949) documents the performance the artist executed on the balcony of her apartment in Zagreb, in 1979, in conjunction with the visit of President Tito to the city. Iveković combined a book reading with what appeared to be an act of masturbation, and was forced by police to end it after only a few minutes. The work confronts public and private space and symbolises both the political activism that was critical of the regime and the artist’s interest in gender issues.

Other rooms in the Collection