Dr. Adam Czirak
Free University of Berlin
Institute of Theatre Studies
Our scholarly network is dedicated to studying performance and action art beyond the Iron Curtain.
In this context, the attribute beyond does not only refer to a specific geopolitical region or an era; it entails much more than developing a historical framework for interpreting Eastern European art actions during the Cold War. The term beyond also implies certain programmatic propositions of our project which try to break with the master narratives of Performance Studies. Beyond the established paradigm of Live Art research, we are asking questions about the aesthetics and politics of performances, whose cultural-historical importance and meaning with regard to Western discourses and subject areas still remain to be explored. Our thesis is that the performative arts played a key role in the history of the European neo-avantgarde, and that they can only be properly examined by simultaneously problematizing the ‘East-West’ or ‘East-East transfer’. Against this background, the concept of ‘beyond the Iron Curtain’ also challenges the assumption of a strict division of Europe before 1989, as well as the corresponding codification of Eastern and Western ideologies or artistic practices. Our comparative study, which foregrounds cultural exchange, maps the relations of cross-border communication and influence–while going beyond a colonizing interpretation of the performance art of the so-called ‘Eastern Bloc’.
The website provides information about the findings of the research network of young scholars called Action Art Beyond the Iron Curtain, which is funded by the German Research Foundation and which started its work in October 2014.