University of Vienna

Katalin Cseh is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at the University of Vienna, Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies, Vienna (Austria). She was a guest researcher at the Open Society Archive and Artpool Art Research Center in Budapest, Hungary in 2012. In 2011 she was a researcher and project management assistant in the interdisciplinary project ‘TELEHOR,’ University of Vienna, Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies in Vienna, Austria.

Limited/Restricted Mobilities. Medial and Performative Interactions in the Eastern European Counter-Culture of the 1960s to the 1980s.

The ‘second public sphere’ of the artistic subcultures of the former Eastern Bloc countries was against common assumptions not a hermetically closed circle of introverted activities, but rather a networked society of individuals and groups creating similar alternative media and experiments of performative expression.

The creative use of art samizdats, mail art and the organisation of public live art events (part-occupation of public spaces) set up the framework for an indirect rebellion against the rigid cultural-political order of the Socialist regimes. Art samizdats encourage a debate on actual alternative culture from all over the world, combine artistic counter-culture-groups and offer a (rather passive) forum of personal involvement in the network of alternative media. Mail art is the most effective and activating communication form that formed a bridge not only among ex-communist cultural landscapes but also between the East and the West (like the triangle USA-Poland-GDR). Both samizdat and mail art practices go through a process of special interpretation in which the original message is converted into an absolutely different media. By making the illegal discourse of the Neo-Avant-Garde visible for the public, Croatian and Hungarian artists break the barrier to the dictatorship’s ‘first public sphere.’

With remarks on contemporary phenomena like intellectual blogging, digital archiving and the 21st occupation movements a broader actual, theoretical context for the mentioned examples shall be given, while using mapping strategies such as ANT.