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Central European neo‐avant‐garde art and ecology under socialism

Fowkes, M; (2013) Central European neo‐avant‐garde art and ecology under socialism. Doctoral thesis (PhD), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the question of how the natural environment figured in the neo‐avant‐garde practices of the generation of artists who around 1970 started to engage with the subject across the socialist states of Central Europe, where various degrees of communist control over society influenced not only artistic production, but also limited access to information about the state of the environment and ecological discourse. The study examines a historical period influenced by the aftermath of the social and political upheavals of 1968, one where art entered the natural environment and engaged with environmental problems, which corresponded to the moment when ecological crisis was first registered on a planetary scale. Individual chapters devote attention to detailed examination of the practices of the Pécs Workshop from Hungary, the OHO group from Slovenia, TOK from Croatia, Rudolf Sikora from Slovakia and Czech artist Petr Štembera, each of whom developed distinctive approaches to the environment through the investigation of process‐based works, land art, public art, conceptual practices or performances, motivated by the neo‐avant‐garde tendency to dematerialise the art object. By focusing on their diverse approaches to the environment, which included engaging with the problems of ecological crisis, raising environmental awareness among socialist citizens, and exploring non‐anthropocentric positions and cosmic perspectives, this comparative study analyses their practices in light of specific socio‐political and environmental circumstances, and reveals the complexity of art history as a discipline under socialism. Working from specific positions and with different artistic affinities, the artists considered here articulated a cosmopolitan voice which commented on the nationalist trespassing of nature, and the communist denial of the environmental crisis, and spoke about a burgeoning ecological imperative that spanned the globe and could not be confined within any imposed borders.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: PhD
Title: Central European neo‐avant‐garde art and ecology under socialism
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: neo-avant-garde, eastern europe, central europe, art and ecology, conceptual art, land art, performance art, public art, Petr Stembera, Pecs Workshop, Rudolf Sikora, Group TOK, OHO Group, art under socialism
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > SHS Faculty Office > UCL Institute for Advanced Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1380708
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