• 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


Pavel Brăila

If one were to write a brief history of art in Romania and Moldova during the 1990s, then performance art—with its various manifestations such as the happening, the action and the intervention—would represent one of the most important chapters. Performance art was a testing ground for young artists, giving them a chance to experiment beyond the traditional disciplines in which they had been educated as well as providing a place in which to interact with an older generation of artists who had practiced it, mostly in seclusion, during the years of socialism. It was stimulated by festivals dedicated specifically to it, such as Zona in Timişoara and Periferic in Iaşi, as well as by artistic summer camps  such as AnnArt in Romania and Carbon Art in Moldova, where artists often had to adapt and react to a rural environment. Outside the two countries, it was framed by large-scale exhibitions that featured artists from the region such as “Body and the East” (Ljubljana) and “After the Wall” (Stockholm).

It was in this environment that Pavel Brăila began his career and to which the fresh, immediate character of his early performances is indebted. Though imbued with a strong physical presence, these performances were not focused on the body itself. Instead, through the act of performing, the artist’s body acted as a filter that was used to communicate with surrounding elements, with nature and with his present (albeit possibly invisible) audience—without, however, aspiring to turn the whole action into a transgressive experience, as many of the performance artists of the time attempted to do. Pavel Brăila was apparently staging rituals, but they were rituals of the absurd kind, revealed during their performance as having been generated by popular fantasy rather than embedded in tradition. At the same time, performances were recorded as videos using a VHS camera, thus being turned into documents as well as into video art. In his subsequent projects, Brăila maintained his allegiance to both performance art and video, but kept the two genres mostly separate: he kept performance in its realm of untranslatable experience and used the video camera at a comparatively high level of technical sophistication, closer to the practice of filmmakers than to that of experimental video artists. While quite a bit of present-day performance art is realized solely for the purpose of documentation, with technology having been democratized, the early works of Pavel Brăila are testament to a time and a geographic region in which video recording was something rare and precious, akin to the unrepeatability of the artistic action itself. As such, these works are not really confined to a specific time or geography: even if they were grounded in the very concrete reality of the place where the artist was living then, these works are formally both far more universal and less contingent than the ones from the following decade.


1971, Chișinău / MD, at that time SU

Brăila graduated in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Moldova in 1994; in Translation Studies from the State University of Moldova in 1997; from the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (the Netherlands) in 2001; and from Fresnoy – Studio National des Arts Contemporains in Tourcoing (France) in 2003. In 2001 he was Artist in Residence at KulturKontakt Austria. Brăila has received the Award of the region Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany) for his film “Definitively Unfinished” at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. In 2002 his film “Shoes for Europe” was shown at documenta 11. In 2007, as an artist in residence at the “DAAD Artists in Berlin Program” Braila presented his installation “Barons’ Hill” at the New National Gallery in Berlin (Germany).

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