• 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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Oliver Ressler

Oliver Ressler’s projects deal with processes of democratization, analyzing them in filmic installations that refer to specific case studies. Concerning the over ten years of turmoil first evoked by such events as the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 and the same year’s summit of the World Economic Forum in Salzburg, Ressler’s strategy has always been to apply scrutiny in the form of videos of and interviews with participants in the anti-globalization movement; results include the video "This is What Democracy Looks Like" (2002). Here, "The Sound of Music"—usually used to entice American visitors into taking tours through Salzburg during the summer—had to give way to the drumming sounds that accompanied the Robocop-uniformed police as they encircled and effectively trapped peaceful demonstrators for hours without letting them eat, drink or urinate.

Collaborative projects involving artists and political scientist Dario Azzellini have confronted the issue of civil disobedience in the context of the Italian anti-capitalist demonstration unit “Disobbedienti”; this group evolved out of “Tute Bianche,” an activist group whose members wore white overalls with padding in order to resist police forces and push through police lines, thereafter marching together in large blocks—as they did during the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001. Here, the same old question posed by the American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau in his famous 1849 essay “Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience)” is still at issue: “Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man?”1

Another done work with Azzellini in 2006, “5 Factories – Worker Control in Venezuela", analyzed changes taking place in the manufacturing sector by interviewing workers in five different factories. The protagonists talked about alternative models of self-organization and increased control by workers as a result of the “Bolivarian Process,” which provided hope that modes and conditions of working would change. Ressler’s projects thus pose questions about the shifting parameters in both democratic and post-socialist societies: while these are undergoing processes of transformation, outcomes in terms of the development of the democratic condition per se remain unclear.





1 Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Resistance to Civil Government, edited by William Rossi, second edition, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992, p. 245.

1970, Knittelfeld / AT

Ressler studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna (Austria) from 1989 to 1995. He works as artist, curator, filmmaker, editor, and lecturer. Ressler often collaborates with other artists and scientists. In 2002 his video “This is what democracy looks like!” was awarded first prize of the “Internationalen Medienkunstpreis” by the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (Germany).

Lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2016  "Who Throws Whom Overboard?”, SALT Galata, Istanbul, Turkey

2014 “Leave it in the Ground”, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Berlin; Germany

2012 “Nach der Krise ist vor der Krise”, Basis, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

2011 “Socialism Failed, Capitalism is Bankrupt. What comes Next?”, The Bunkier Sztuki Contemporary Art Gallery, Krakow, Poland

2010 “What Is Democracy?”, Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen, UK

2009 “Što je demokracija?”, Siz Gallery, Rijeka, Croatia

2008 “For A Completely Different Climate”, Artra Gallery, Milan, Italy

2007 “Mucha vigilancia, mucho movimiento, mucha desconfianza”, Centro Fundación Telefónica, Documentation Center, Lima, Peru

2006 “Now-Time Venezuela, Part 1: Worker-Controlled Factories”, (with Dario Azzellini), Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, USA

2005 “An Ideal Society Creates Itself”, Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul, Turkey

2004 “Economía alternativa, sociedades alternativas”, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, MediaLab, Madrid, Spain

2003 “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies”, Galerija Skuc, Ljubljana, Slovenia

2002 “This is what democracy looks like!”, Plattform, Berlin, Germany

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2017 docuementa 14, Kassel, Germany 

2016 “Hors Pistes – L’art de la Révolte”, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France


2015 “Utopian Pulse – Flares in the Darkroom”, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany

2014 "Places of Transition", frei_raum Q21 exhibition space, Vienna, Austria

2013 “global aCtIVISm”, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany

2012 “It’s the Political Economy, Stupid”, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, New York City, USA

2011 “To Disobey at all Costs. Video and Demonstrations”, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico

2010 “The politics of art”, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece

2009 "Rewind, Fast Forward – Videokunst aus der Sammlung der Neuen Galerie Graz von 1970 bis heute”, Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria

2008 “Disobedience – An ongoing video archive”, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany; HDLU, Zagreb, Croatia; Riga Art Space, Riga, Latvia

2007 “Suitcase Illuminated#5“, P74 Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Mac/Val – Musée d’art Contemporain du Val de Marne, Paris, France

2006 “The Shadow Cabinet”, De Appel, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2005 “Making Things Public – Atmosphären der Demokratie”, ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany

2004 “The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere”, MASS MoCA Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, USA

2003 “Banquete”, Centre of Contemporary Art Palau de la Virreina of Barcelona, Spain; Conde Duque Cultural Centre, Madrid, Spain

2002 “Empire/State: Artists Engaging Globalization”, Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program Exhibition, New York City, USA

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

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Ressler, Oliver, Szylak, Aneta, eds. 2007. Oliver Ressler: Alternative Economics, alternative societies. Gdansk: Wyspa Institute of Art.


Ressler, Oliver. 2005. Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies. Frankfurt: Revolver [Exhib. Cat., Novi Sad Museum of Contemporary Art (May 24-Jun. 3, 2005), Belgrade Museum of Contemporary Art (Jun. 4-10, 2005)]



Other Media


Ressler, Oliver. 2004. This is what democracy looks like!: Disobbedienti (2002). Vienna: Arge index (Index DVD Edition; 015). 1 DVD (92 min.)

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