• Poetry & Performance / The Eastern European Perspective
    22 December 2017 − 10 March 2018

    Nová synagóga, Žilina, Slovakia Poetry & Performance / The Eastern European Perspective 22/12/17 –  10/03/18 Loans by Kontakt: Vlado Martek: Ciklus Soneti / Sonnet Cycle, 1978-79 Raša Todosijević: Znak / Sign, 1971; Skulptura / Sculpture, 1971; Was ist Kunst, Patricia Hennings? / What is Art, Patricia Hennings?, 1976; Was ist Kunst, Marinela Koželj? / What is Art, Marinela Koželj?, 1978 Tamás St. Auby: Kentaur / Centaur, 1973-1975/ 2009 Curators: Sabine Hänsgen, Tomáš Glanc, Daniel Grúň Nová synagóga in Žilina presents the exhibition Poetry & Performance. The Eastern European Perspective curated by Tomáš Glanc, Daniel Grúň and Sabine Hänsgen. The exhibition brings together more than forty artists, poets and creative groups from the countries of the former Eastern Europe as well as contemporary artistic positions. The exhibition will be opened on December 22nd from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. by a series of several performances and will run until March 10th 2018. In the second half of the twentieth century, poets and artists in particular took up the challenge of reflecting on and investigating the instrumentalization of language for communicative and political-ideological purposes. They did so by drawing attention to the “made-ness” of language, its material and medial dimension, and by creating performative situations for themselves and their audiences within which possibilities of verbal expression could be tested and acted out. In Eastern Europe, poetry and performance played a significant role in the unofficial or partially tolerated cultural scene. The writing practice of samizdat and its relation to the devices of concrete and visual poetry have been treated and presented in a number of previous projects. Until now however, less consideration has been given to the circumstances of performance. In addition to the typescript literature of samizdat, subcultural milieus attached particular importance to the oral recitation of poems, exhibitions, and poetry actions. The interrelation between text and situation in poetic acts functioned as a trigger for performances and happenings. The exhibition presents authors from subcultures in socialist states along with contemporary positions that continue the legacy of combining poetry and performance. It shows the efforts of poets and artists to break free from controlled language and normative communicative now and then. Poetry & Performance. The Eastern European Perspective thus confronts the current social challenges in the post-socialist countries through the prism of language and ideology and looks back at their points of departure. Artists: Milan Adamčiak, Pavel Arsenev, Babi Badalov, Bosch+Bosch (Attila Csernik, Slavko Matković, László Szalma), Collective Actions Group, Ľubomír Ďurček, Else Gabriel / Via Lewandowsky, Rimma Gerlovina, Tomislav Gotovac, Group of Six Artists, Bohumila Grögerová / Josef Hiršal, Gino Hahnemann, Václav Havel, Jörg Herold, Semyon Khanin (Orbita), Kinship Moho (Zuzana Jasenková, Kristína Országhová, Magdaléna Scheryová), Dávid Koronczi, Katalin Ladik, Yuri Leiderman / Andrey Silvestrov, Vlado Martek, Andrei Monastyrski, Monogramista T.D, Ladislav Novák, Pavel Novotný, NSRD (Hardijs Lediņš, Juris Boiko, Imants Žodžiks), OHO Group (Nuša & Srečo Dragan, Naško Križnar), Boris Ondreička, Orange Alternative, Roman Osminkin, Ewa Partum, Bogdanka Poznanović, Dmitri Prigov, Lev Rubinstein, Nóra Ružičková / Marianna Mlynárčiková, Mladen Stilinović, Gabriele Stötzer, Tamás Szentjóby, Bálint Szombathy, Raša Todosijević, Jaromír Typlt, Jiří Valoch. Nová synagóga, Žilina, Slovakia J. M. Hurbana 220/11, 010 01 Wednesday — Sunday, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m. free entry (voluntary)


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Roman Ondák

The work of Roman Ondak is characterized by an interventionist praxis that takes a subtle approach to reality in order to transform the visible structures of everyday experience in an unconventional way. Ephemeral performances as well as direct interventions serve as the basis for many of Ondak’s in situ works, whether in art institutions or as public art projects. Quite often, the artist will initiate participatory projects with people from various locales or communities, whom he involves in performing a certain task. The result can be installations, photos or drawings via which the actions thus carried out find their entry into the realm of art.

The artist’s anti-approaches or reversals of a given reality, especially regarding the issue of production, are often associated with the works of Július Koller, whom he helped to be rediscovered by an international art audience through curated shows and several collaborations. Koller’s role as precursor to Slovak contemporary art, along with his rejection of a dominant reality via the formulation of anti-art statements and performances is reflected in Ondak’s take on everyday situations, which seem like everyday events yet are given a certain twist, such as when a crowd of people was invited to stand in line in front of the Kölnischer Kunstverein in 2005 in order to suggest to the public that a big event was imminent. Ondak’s work very often focuses on the observation of sometimes unnoticeable details, which are heightened by a process in which the artist explores and transforms usual routines, causing them to suddenly attract attention.

Occasionally, Ondak will also transform architectural environments through a reversal of scales or of interior and exterior scenes. The latter was demonstrated in 2006 in a show at Tate Modern, where he built a miniature model of the Turbine Hall to be installed as a room-filling installation in the Level 2 Gallery. Another example was his contribution to the 2009 Venice Bienniale, in which he extended the garden atmosphere of the Giardini into the Czech-Slovak Pavilion with soil and plants so that one could walk through as if there were no building or roof.

Dealing with specific social and spatial entities has become one of the artist’s trademarks in his quest to focus the viewer’s gaze on those sometimes mundane moments that take on of significant importance through Ondak’s artistic alterations and interventions.



1966, Žilina / SK, at that time ČSSR

Ondak studied at the Academy of Art in Bratislava (Slovak Republic) from 1988 to 1994, and at the Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania (USA) in 1993. In 1996 he took part in the first Manifesta in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) and in 2003 his work was presented at the 50th Venice Biennial (Italy). In 2007 Ondak was a stipendiary of the Artist-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD.

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany, and Bratislava, Slovak Republic.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2017      "History Repeats Itself", Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Denmark

2016      "The Source of Art is in the Life of a People", South London Gallery, London, UK

2015      "Storyboard", Times Museum, Guangzhou, China

2014      "Erased Wing Mirror", Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna, Austria

2013      "Escena", Palacio de Cristal, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain

2012     “Roman Ondak“, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France

2011     “Roman Ondak. Time Capsule“, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK

2010     “Roman Ondak. Shaking Horizon”, Villa Arson, Nice, France

2009     “Performance 4: Roman Ondák. Measuring the Universe”, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA

2008     “Path”, CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, USA

2007     “The Day After Yesterday”, BAK basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, the Netherlands

2006     “It will All Turn Out Right in the End”, Tate Modern, London, UK

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2012     documenta 13, Kassel, Germany 

2011     “Ostalgia”, New Museum, New York City, USA

2010     “The Promises of the Past, 1950-2010”, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2009     “Die Kunst ist super!”, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany      

2008     “A Choreographed Exhibition”, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Switzerland

2007     “The Art of Failure“, Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz/Basel, Switzerland

2006     “How to live together“, 27th São Paulo Art Biennial, Brazil

2005     “Do Not Interrupt Your Activities“, Royal College of Art, London, UK

2004     “Time and Again“, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2003     “Utopia Station“, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy

2002     “I promise it’s political“, Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Roman Ondák: Guide. 2012. Cologne: König.


Roman Ondák: Notebook. 2012. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag [Exhib. Cat., Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin (Apr. 26-Jun. 18, 2012)]


Gregory, Jarrett, Valdez, Sarah, eds. 2011. Ostalgia. New York: New Museum [Exhib. Cat., New Museum New York (Jul. 14-Sept. 25, 2011)]


Rhomberg, Kathrin, ed. 2011. Loop. Roman Ondák. Cologne: König [Exhib. Cat., Pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republics, 53. La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (Jun. 9-Nov. 22, 2009)]


Kintisch, Christine, ed. 2008. Roman Ondák: Measuring the Universe. Zurich: Ringier.


Eiblmayr, Silvia, ed. 2007. Roman Ondák. Cologne: König [Exhib. Cat., Galerie im Taxispalais Innsbruck (Jan. 19-Mar. 4, 2007), BAK basis voor actuele kunst Utrecht (Mar. 11-May 27, 2007)]


Rhomberg, Kathrin, ed. 2005. Roman Ondák. Cologne: König [Exhib. Cat., Kölnischer Kunstverein (May 1-Jun. 27, 2004)]

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