The Methods and Meanings of Performance Art in Central and Eastern Europe

Amy Bryzgel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Insofar as performance art was not recognised as an art form by official art institutions in East-Central Europe, it remained a “zone of freedom” in which artists could experiment. Artists employed a range of approaches to the genre, from happenings and actions to body and live art performances, as well as photographic and video performances. The documentation of the performances was crucial, in that it enabled them, and their art work, to have a presence abroad, even if they were unable to travel. It also gave them a presence on the international art scene that many of them craved, due to their isolation behind the Iron Curtain. With some artists, the documentation took on an almost ritualistic process, a determined effort to preserve these ephemeral actions.[1] Consequently, it also functioned as a form of communication with the outside world, beyond the borders of the East Bloc. The conservation of documentation, combined with the concerted efforts of the rare galleries or venues that supported and promoted performance art meant that performance art from Central and Eastern Europe could—and did—have a definite impact on the development of performance art worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInstitute of the Present
Early online date1 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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