Purpose

This website provides an independent platform for a global discussion on European art scenes that, for the most part, developed in a marginalized “second public sphere”. Geopolitically, we are focusing on countries in which, in the course of the construction of state socialist regimes during the Cold War, all forms of artistic autonomy came at the price of not being allowed to network and had to be achieved parallel to a controlled form of communication that was in conformity with the system.

All colleagues working on the aesthetics and politics of subcultural performance art in an international and interdisciplinary framework are invited to register, regardless of whether they intend to exchange historical documents, seek cooperation, publish texts, or inform each other about relevant events (workshops, exhibitions, or conferences). 

The idea of the website stems from the conference ‘Performing Arts in the Second Public Sphere’ held in Berlin in May 2014 and financed by the ERSTE Foundation as well as the Free University of Berlin. Within the framework of the meeting, questions concerning the artistic networks in Yugoslavia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, East Germany and Czechoslovakia were raised and examined from sociological and ideological-critical perspectives. The focal point of the discussions was the assumption that under the circumstances of censorial circumstances performance and intermedia arts took on a special critical role. We tried to develop ways of how art events and interpersonal collaborations in Central and Eastern Europe could be analysed against the backdrop of local and global trends. At this point we were faced with the following challenge: how could we give voice to the artistic traditions of Central and Eastern Europe without directly applying aesthetic theories of Western provenance? Therefore, in order to adequately describe the artistic practice in the second public sphere with regard to the prevailing conditions of production, we set out to detect and reactivate regional discourses of art criticism beyond the Iron Curtain.

Since the exploration of the art scenes of the second public sphere as well as their traces after the system change in 1989 seems to be feasible only in a transnational network, we would like to further investigate the questions raised at the conference in Berlin in an extended online network. We would like to encourage students and researchers of Theatre, Media, Arts, and Historical Studies as well as artists to intensify the cross-generational dialogue on the desiderata of this fairly recent period of European cultural history. We are looking forward to the participation of everyone interested in the project.

The development and maintenance of this website have been supported by the ERSTE Foundation.