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Top Pick: Action Art exhibition 1965 - 1989

Action Art is a unique artistic movement which documents the process of creating art rather than the final product itself. A new Action Art exhibition currently running at the Slovak National Gallery features photographs of Slovak Action artists from 1965 to 1989, when the movement served as a weapon in fighting the ideology of the Communist regime.
The exhibition's aim is to highlight an art form which under Communism existed only outside the spotlight of the popularly accepted art scene filling galleries and art-institutes.
In the latter half of the 1960s, Action Art was new and untraditional and aimed at freeing art from political influence. It did this by focusing on the creation of an object, a series of connecting events, or just an artist's performance. Such works are documented in photographs, film-records, librettos' texts or video-records.


'Action Art', which focuses on the process rather than the product, is on display till August 19.
Courtesy Slovak National Gallery

Action Art is a unique artistic movement which documents the process of creating art rather than the final product itself. A new Action Art exhibition currently running at the Slovak National Gallery features photographs of Slovak Action artists from 1965 to 1989, when the movement served as a weapon in fighting the ideology of the Communist regime.

The exhibition's aim is to highlight an art form which under Communism existed only outside the spotlight of the popularly accepted art scene filling galleries and art-institutes.

In the latter half of the 1960s, Action Art was new and untraditional and aimed at freeing art from political influence. It did this by focusing on the creation of an object, a series of connecting events, or just an artist's performance. Such works are documented in photographs, film-records, librettos' texts or video-records.

Action Art artists seek to draw a connection between art and normal people in their everyday lives. Some shows featured the happiness of artists as they celebrated certain rituals with average citizens. A work called 'If all the trains of the world', for instance, focuses on a decorated train stuffed full of artists and villagers passing artistically-altered stations.

In the 'Body Art' exhibit, the artist has used his own body to create a living sculpture, often appearing on the verge of psychical danger. Later, a similar one-man performance on the street encourages audience participation. Such performances satirically symbolised socialist practices like the frequent calling of nonsensical, irrelevant and unnecessary meetings.

The exhibition runs in all exhibition rooms at the Slovenská národná galéria (Slovak National Gallery) at Esterházyho palác (Esterházy Palace) on Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra 4, till August 19. Open daily except Mon 10:00-18:00. Tel: 5443 4587.

By Zuzana Habšudová

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