Notes from the Underground

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In September, Daniel Muzyczuk and I curated a show entitled ‘Notes from the Underground’ for the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz which explores the intersection of art and music in Eastern Europe under communist rule. Rock, punk and new wave were not only embraced by young musicians in the 1970s and 1980s, they shaped the visual arts too. Fashion, graphic design and video were animated by these new sensibilities throughout the so called Eastern Bloc and former Yugoslavia. Of course the idea of the underground was a kind of myth but one which, nevertheless, had tangible effects – and often quite brilliant ones too. Take a look at this video by the East German absurdists, AG Geige.

Between the official sphere and dissident culture, this zone has been somewhat overlooked and so the show in Lodz is an attempt to provide some kind of map to this phenomenon. In fact, the show covers a lot of ground from Prague to Moscow and from Vilnius to Belgrade.

The exhibition closes on 15 January 2017 but we hope that it will travel to other venues in Europe in 2017-18. A 450 pp book published by MSL / Walter Koenig accompanies the show.

Press shots of the show can be seen here.

Karol Sienkiewicz wrote a thoughtful review here and there is a good overview text from Odra by Monika Pasiecznik here. Stach Szablowski’s Dwutygodnik piece reflects on the place of the avant-garde in the museum. He asks what happened to the underground after 1989 – perhaps a task for another curator .. And Waldemar Kuligowski is far less happy with the show in Czas Kultury.

Hannelore Fobo has made a short film, focusing on the works of E-E Kozlov in the show here.

There is an interview with Daniel and myself here.

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