• Probe 1 – The Story of Slovak (Post)Conceptual art
    12 Dec 2018 − 24 March 2019

    Prague City Gallery / Stone Bell House Curated by: Vlado Beskid and Jakub Král Loans by Kontakt: Ján Mančuška, Julius Koller, Stano Filko, Roman Ondak The exhibition will introduce Czech public into one of the crucial tendencies found in modern and contemporary Slovak art. It will focus on the origination and development of Conceptual and post-Conceptual Art within the horizon of the past fifty years in Slovakia, i.e. from the alternative, unofficial scene of the 1960s to the post-1989 legal artistic platform. The oeuvres of two generations of artists, such as Viktor Frešo, Jozef Jankovič, Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkáčová, Martin Kochan, Július Koller, Marek Kvetan, Ján Mančuška, Roman Ondák, Boris Ondreička, Monogramista T.D, Rudolf Sikora, Pavla Sceranková, Peter Rónai and Jaro Varga, will serve to present particular forms of Conceptual artistic morphology, as it was shaped by the new aesthetic criteria with their codes, in the context of time. The exhibition, held as a specific contribution to the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the existence of Czechoslovakia, will go hand in hand with interventions by several Czech artists (Jan Brož, Alice Nikitinová, Vít Soukup, Pavel Sterec, Antonín Střížek, Michaela Thelenová) who will loosely contextualize selected historical, social, economic and world-view facets of our history. Their main subject of interest is the transformations of the internal social paradigm, presented the loss of the utopian outreach of our thinking in connection with the declining big ideologies.



When Zofia Kulik and Przemyslaw Kwiek started the complex experiment to collaborate as KwieKulik in the beginning of the 1970s – analyzing and reflecting on their everyday life, their private and public existence as a couple, and their creative work with Socialist concepts – their work was accompanied by political considerations and artistic demands for a new role of the artist in society. The forms of representation of these considerations and the questions that they raised related to the status of contemporary art in general and provided the thematic framework for a particular project that developed for nearly two decades. It is a project that finds few analogies in European art of this period: a couple that used its artistic and private existence as a model for an ongoing aesthetic/political action, as a reformist-motivated, praxeological workshop for the education of an emancipatory society within the framework of state socialism.

            It was a specific moment in Polish (art) history when Kulik and Kwiek started their artistic partnership and their semiological and analytical reflection on the relationship between societal form and practice that aimed at the rejuvenation of everyday life under socialism, riddled as it was with bureaucratic routine. The Moscow nomenklatura had just put a stop to the cultural warm-up exercises of the modernist Sweet Sixties in the post-Stalinist Soviet Empire. The new conservative rigidity of cultural politics after 1970 intended, among other things, to prevent the ideas of the Prague Spring of reform from living on. While the neo-avant-gardes that formed in the Soviet Bloc were being pushed out of public perception into inner or real emigration, the seemingly liberal political climate and the rhetoric of social reform of the early Gierek years allowed the second generation of the Polish neo-avant-garde, young, pop-spiced late- or post conceptualists an audience and even space for public representation within the institutional framework of the official art system. Envy of Polish liberties spread beyond the Warsaw Pact states. Though these ultimately remained gestures whose symbolic integrationist power was not enough to lastingly secure the legitimacy of the system, they had opened up prospects to reformist possibilities and clearer insight into the insoluble contradiction between the imaginary space of Socialist power and the real space of Socialist everyday life. These new prospects for KwiKulik, when reconsidering the social role of the artist, seemed to be, at the very least, opening possibilities of actuating educational processes aimed at open and emancipatory structures in both artistic practice and its institutional frameworks. Contrary to most of their co-combatants of the second generation of Polish conceptualists who neglected this perspective and addressed themselves to either rigid formalisms, private mythologies, media self-reflection, or a hippie, pop-cultural and alternative cynicism, the couple took the call for reform literally, but with a specific task in mind, namely framing the analysis of regimes of form and discourses on the aesthetic as a social and political project. For KwieKulik, the 1970s cultural reforms were regarded as the most distinct symptoms of the absence of something – the social factor.      




Zofia Kulik / Przemyslaw Kwiek

(collaboration from 1971 to 1987)

1947, Wrocław / PL; 1945, Warszawa / PL



Please follow this link for a selected bibliography available at the ERSTE Foundation Library
(c) Zak Branicka, KwieKulik in their Studio of Activities, Documentation and Propagation, 1976
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