ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s is a survey of experimental art made by almost 100 artists from six Central-Eastern European nations, including East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The exhibition traces how a generation of artists with distinct experiences of locally specific state-sanctioned control embraced experimentation and interdisciplinary practices to confront at times harsh conditions of everyday life, while circumventing and eluding the very systems that sought to surveil and silence them.
Zbigniew Rybczyński, Take Five, 1972. 35mm short film transferred to digital. Courtesy the artist, Vail, AZ.
The exhibition features rarely seen and newly reconstructed works. It draws on the visual arts, performance, music, and material culture to demonstrate the conceptual and formal innovation practiced by Eastern Bloc artists of the era, who were daily forced to negotiate and adapt their artistic practices within societies that enforced restrictions on how art could be produced, circulated, and received by the public. While some works demonstrate wit and irony, all are grounded in an unyielding spirit of adventure and imagination.
Jürgen Wittdorf, Baubrigade der Sportstudenten from the series Jugend und Sport (Sports Students’ Builders Brigade from the series Youth and Sport), 1964. Linocut. Collection Andre Odier, Berlin. Courtesy KVOST and Schwules Museum Berlin. Photo: Bernd Borchardt.
Along with well-known artists from the region, Multiple Realities highlights lesser-known figures, particularly women artists, artist collectives, and LGBTQIA+ artists, many of whom remain largely unknown. To provide historical, social, political, and cultural context to artworks on view, interpretative content areas orient viewers geographically within the Eastern Bloc, offer nuanced definitions of terms, and explore the relationship between experimental art and official, government-sanctioned art.
Věra Chytilová , Sedmikrásky (Daisies) (stills), 1966. 4K restoration from a 35mm film print (color/black and white, sound). ©Czech Film Fund, Source: Národnı́ filmový archiv / National Film Archiv, Prague.