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date: 26 February 2021

Body art in Eastern Europelocked

  • Milena Tomic


Body art from Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania, as well as the former GDR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union differed from its Western counterpart mainly in terms of the specific social and political forces with which artists from the region had to contend. Some of the most important artists from Eastern Europe who made body art are Tibor Hajas, Marina Abramović, Raša Todosijević, Petr Štembera, Jan Mlčoch, Karel Miler, Jiří Kovanda, Geta Bratescu, Ion Grigorescu, Tomislav Gotovac, Sanja Iveković, the Autoperforationsartisten, Jerzy Bereś, Oleg Kulik, Alexander Brener, Katarzyna Kozyra, and Tanja Ostojić.

In the 1960s and 1970s actions seen as politically benign in the West could carry serious consequences in the East, forcing many who lived behind the Iron Curtain to perform secretly or else to confine their activities to private apartments. The impracticality of working in the medium of public performance sometimes led artists to perform solely for the camera, as Ion Grigorescu (...

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