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(de)monstration

Screenings and Symposium

A project by Maxim Neroda

Host organization: Riesa efau Cultural Forum, Dresden

April 2006 (screenings), UFO - ZukunftsWerkStadt; October 2006 (symposium), Motorenhalle, Kulturverein Riesa efau, Dresden (Germany)

The changes at the end of the 1990s affected all sectors of society in the countries of the former Eastern bloc. Using the Soviet Union/Russia and the GDR/Germany as its basis, the project "(de)monstration" focused on the role of art and the artist in periods of political change.

That spring, videos and films were accompanied by discussions on the aesthetics of new Russian media art. The screenings were held in the UFO, a temporary venue through the ZukunftsWerkStadt Dresden. The artwork presented was by a whole generation of Russian artists that renounced traditional exhibition practices after the political changes of the year 1992 and was critical of prescribed everyday rituals.

As a response to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the influential artistic movement "actionism" arose, once again raising the question of whether or not art should be political. Actionism has undoubtedly shaped all contemporary art in Russia.

The goal of the symposium in the fall was to determine similarities and essential differences in the two countries' art movements in the context of social processes. Renowned speakers from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Dresden were invited to redefine socially engaged art after 1990.

In the context of the rapid changes in economic, political, and social structures that resulted from the coup of 1990, the "action artists" in Russia postulated radically new views on the role of art in social processes. In contrast to society's general alienation of politics and art, the action artists consciously worked in arenas related to life, which put them into a competitive relationship with mass media, political parties, and state institutions.

The "auto-perforation" artists in Dresden considered the GDR's social changes to be the object of their artistic activity. They adopted a radical critical practice that reflected on reality through performances and actions and questioned the role of the artist.

With support from: Russian Year 2006 in Dresden, Art der Kultur, 7. Stock, Robert Bosch Stiftung