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  • WHO WAS 1968?
    28 Sept 2018 − 13 Jan 2019

    LENTOS Kunstmuseum WHO WAS 1968? Art, Architecture, Society Curated by: Hedwig Saxenhuber, Georg Schöllhammer Loans by Kontakt from: Heimrad Bäcker, Stanisław Dróżdż, VALIE EXPORT, Stano Filko, Běla Kolářová, Július Koller, Natalia LL, Karel Miler, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević and Goran Trbuljak A decade of eruptions, departures and redefinitions in the steel city Linz. The year I968 marks a turning point that ushered in a new era. Across Western Europe and in the United States Student protests and workers’ revolts called into question the post-war power structure itself, while Soviet tanks bulldozed the Prague Spring into the ground and signalled the end of the hope that the Eastern Bloc would open up to the West. This exhibition harks back to the echoes of I968 in Linz and Upper Austria. Embracing the arts, architecture, music, film and literature, it unfolds for the first time a synoptic map on which key figures and moments of local history – some largely unknown to this day – are accorded a place. It enables visitors to embark on exploratory trips and to survey the rich fabric of relationships and linkages that includes points of contact with international scenarios and trends. Experiments in the aesthetic field were begun with a view to escaping from the cultural stuffiness of the first two post-war decades. The participating artists include: Claudia von Alemann, Ant Farm, Heimrad Bäcker, Josef Bauer, Bill Bollinger, Dietmar Brehm, Gerd Conradt, Waltraut Cooper, Stanisław Dróżdż, Erró, VALIE EXPORT, Harun Farocki, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Stano Filko, Helmuth Gsöllpointner, Timo Huber, Johann Jascha, Martha Jungwirth, Gülsün Karamustafa, Gerhard Knogler, Běla Kolářová, Juliús Koller, Peter Kubelka, Zofia Kulik, KwieKulik, Maria Lassnig, Fritz Lichtenauer, Natalia LL, Karel Miler, Josef Nöbauer, OHO, Yoko Ono, Gina Pane, Friederike Pezold, Cora Pongracz, Chris Reinecke, Martha Rosler, Dieter Roth, Zorka Sàglovà, Dominik Steiger, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević, Goran Trbuljak, Tucumàn Arde, Jiřì Valoch, Agnés Varda, Peter Weibel, Hannah Wilke, Jana Želibská, Želimir Žilnik, Zünd-Up http://lentos.at/html/en/4747.aspx

Artists

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Petr Štembera

Petr Štembera is among the key Czech performance artists of the 1970s. He was one of the leading figures of the Prague body art circle and from 1970 mediated contact with important performance art representatives both in the West and in Eastern Bloc countries.

In the early 1970s, Štembera’s interest in extreme physical and psychological experiences led to extreme body art pieces that he began to document in the manner customary in American body art: a black-and-white photography with a short description – a report on when and where it happened. Štembera’s first performances took place in nature and a number of later pieces dealt with the relationship between the human body and a natural entity, such as “Štěpování“ (Grafting) (1975) when Štembera grafted a bush sprig into his arm in a way common in arboriculture, or in “Spaní na stomě” (Sleeping in a tree) (1975) when, after three sleepless nights, he spent the fourth night in a tree.

Štembera’s early work is still in the artist’s self-searching phase and only arose within the closed circle of his fellow-artists Karel Miler and Jan Mlčoch. Only later did Štembera’s body as a subject of inner experience become for him an object and instrument at the same time.  This is very apparent from the time when the Prague body-art trio conducted their performances before small audiences. It was at these “evening performances" secretly held at various places that Štembera conducted a number of extreme body art performances in which he exposed his body and sometimes even the viewers to danger. Štembera’s courage supplemented by skills learned from yoga enabled him to undertake very demanding performances. Their excruciating nature and symbolism strongly resonated with the “normalization” years in Czechoslovakia following the Soviet occupation.

Like Karel Miler and Jan Mlčoch, Štembera decided to stop his performance activities in the late 1970s. This was due to a feeling of exhaustion, but also a feeling of awkwardness to carry out artificially risky acts in light of the real perils faced by those involved in the Charter 77. Štembera’s interest in other psychophysical activities, such as oriental martial arts, also played a role.

P.M.

1945, Plzeň / CZ, at that time ČSSR

Štembera, originally a painter, started performing actions in 1971. They mainly took place in Prague (Czech Republic), but also in other European countries as well as in the USA. Together with fellow artists Jan Mlčoch and Karel Miler he organized and performed actions from about 1970 to about 1980. At the beginning of the 1980s all three stopped performing and afterwards became curators.

Please follow this link for a selected bibliography available at the ERSTE Foundation Library
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