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Performing the East: Performance Art in Russia, Latvia and Poland Since 1980

Performing the East: Performance Art in Russia, Latvia and Poland Since 1980
Amy Bryzgel

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Performance art in Western Europe and North America developed in part as a response to the commercialisation of the art object, as artists endeavoured to create works of art that could not be bought or sold. But what are the roots of performance art in Eastern Europe and Russia, where there was no real art market to speak of? While many artworks created in the 'East' may resemble Western performance art practices, their origins, as well as their meaning and significance, is decidedly different. By placing specific performances from Russia, Latvia and Poland from the late- and post-communist periods within a local and international context, this book pinpoints the nuances between performance art East and West. Performance art in Eastern Europe is examined for the first time as agent and chronicle of the transition from Soviet and satellite states to free-market democracies. Drawing upon previously unpublished sources and exclusive interviews with the artists themselves, Amy Bryzgel explores the actions of the period, from Miervaldis Polis's Bronze Man to Oleg Kulik's Russian Dog performances.

Bryzgel demonstrates that in the late-1980s and early 1990s, performance art in Eastern Europe went beyond the modernist critique to express ideas outside the official discourse, shocking and empowering the citizenry, both effecting and mirroring the social changes taking place at the time. Performing the East opens the way to an urgent reassessment of the history, function and meaning of performance art practices in East-Central Europe.

Author Info

Amy Bryzgel is Lecturer in History of Art in the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. Her area of specialization is contemporary art from Eastern Europe and Russia from the second half of the twentieth century.


'This book represents a pioneering source... on a par with such extent works as those of Piotr Piotrowski.'

'a magnificent aid for art educators and art historians in every continent of the world because it is based on fact, well-considered and its generalizations are sufficiently substantiated... Amy Bryzgel’s experience in the three countries she describes is befitting of a serious historian and as such is reflected in what is, possibly, the first Western monograph partly dedicated also to Latvian art'
Helena Demakova, Studija


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Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781848859487
Publication Date: 29 May 2013
Number of Pages: 304
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 40 integrated b/w illustrations

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