• 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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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).

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany, and Chișinău, Moldova.

Solo Exhibitions (selection):

2017 Eastwards Prospectus, Bucharest, Romania

2012 Art Point Gallery, Vienna, Austria

2010 “Pavel Brăila, Chisinau-Braila-Sibiu“, National Museum Brukenthal, Sibiu, Romania

2009 “Source“, Gallery Jan Dhaese, Ghent, Belgium

2008 “Want“, Gallery Yvon Lambert, Paris, France

2007 “Pavel Brăila: Barons’ Hill“, New National Gallery, Berlin, Germany

2006 “Pavel Brăila", Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Austria

2005 MIT List Visual Arts Center, Boston, USA

2004 “33 Revolutions Per Minute“, Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris, France

2003 Kunstbuero, Vienna, Austria

Group Exhibitions (selection):

2017 documenta 14, Athens, Greece / Kassel, Germany

2015 "Project 35: The Last Act", Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia

2014 "Sights and Sounds: Romania", The Jewish Museum, New York, USA 

2013 "Matters of Mehtod",, Prague, The Czech Republic

2012 “A Tribute to the Typewriter: The Ink Ribbon’s Fingerprints“, Vienna Technical Museum, Vienna, Austria

2011 “Faux Amis / An Ephemeral Video Library“, Jeu de Paume, Paris, France

2010 “Outrageous Fortune: Artists Remake the Tarot“, Holden Gallery, Manchester, UK (travelling exhibition)

2009 “A Pair of Left Shoes - Reality Check in Eastern Europe“, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Bochum, Germany

2008 “Don’t Worry - Be Curious“, Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg

2007 “Time Code“, MAMbo Bologna Modern Art Museum, Bologna, Italy

2006 “Why Pictures Now“, MUMOK Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria

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

2004 “DELAY“, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

2003 “Blood & Honey - Futures at the Balkans“, Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria

2002 documenta 11, Kassel, Germany

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

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Eiblmayr, Silvia, Erharter, Christiane, Limbeck-Lilienau, Elisabeth, Muttenthaler, Roswitha, Zuna-Kratky, Gabriele, eds. 2012. At your Service : Kunst und Arbeitswelt = Art and Labour. Salzburg: Fotohof edition. [Exhib. Cat., Technisches Museum Wien (Mar. 23, 2012-Mar. 03, 2013)]


Milovac, Tihomir, ed. 2009. Ein Paar linker Schuhe = A Pair of Left Shoes : reality Check in Osteuropa = Reality Check in East Europe. Bochum: Kunstmuseum Bochum. [Exhib. Cat., Kunstmuseum Bochum (May 23-Aug. 02, 2009)]



Other Media


Braila, Pavel, Herta, Angelika. 2013. Talking letters : a film on the Romani language. Romany with English subtitles. Bucharest: Alte Arta, 1 DVD (54:10 min.)


KulturKontakt Austria, ed. 2012. Chişinău - City Difficult to Pronounce. Concept by Annemarie Türk. Vienna: KulturKontakt Austria, 1 DVD (57:25 min.)
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