How Soviet Bloc secret police surveilled performance art and happenings--and how artists responded
Subversion need not belong to a particular culture: it can come from artists who outwit the state or from intelligence agencies that infiltrate the art scene on behalf of the state. But what happens when the two sides meet? After Eastern Europe's state security archives were opened, it became possible for this interaction to be studied in detail. Artists & Agents shows how the Stasi, the KGB and other state secret police monitored happenings, performance art and action art, and looks at the debates they had about the new art form; how the police documented artistic actions, how they manipulated them and sought to thwart them; how artists dealt with the possibility that they were being observed by the secret police; and how they now work with the material stored in state archives. Artists & Agents includes work by Sanja Ivekovic, Orange Alternative, Peng! Collective, Daniel Knorr, Cornelia Schleime, Ion Grigorescu and others.
Kata Krasznahorkai is a curator and research assistant on the ERC project “Performance Art in Eastern Europe 1950–1990: History and Theory” at the University of Zurich’s Slavisches (Slavonic) Seminar.
Sylvia Sasse, author and curator, is professor of Slavonic Literature at the University of Zurich and heads the ERC project “Performance Art in Eastern Europe 1950–1990: History and Theory”.