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25 Jun 2013 - 25 Aug 2013

Sounding The Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957-1984

The connections between the visual arts and experimental music were closer in the 1960s and 1970s than perhaps any time before or since. Sound and image combined in artists' films, happenings and sounding installations. This exhibition on the first experimental approaches to sound and image in Eastern Europe during the 60s and the decades that followed, features artworks and recordings by Czech Fluxus artist Milan Knížák, and works by Czech artist Milan Grygar and many others.

Eastern European artists and composers were at the forefront of these new experiments with sound and yet their achievements have never been recorded until now. Sounding the Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957-1984, an exhibition at Calvert 22 in London, organised in conjunction with the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, fills in a missing chapter in the history of Sound Art. 

The first experiments in sound were produced during the euphoric period known as 'the Thaw' after Stalin's death. Composers and artists in Eastern Europe were given new opportunities to experiment. New recording studios equipped with magnetic tape recorders and later, synthesisers were established, first in Warsaw in 1957 and then throughout Eastern Europe. New and often challenging forms of music by pioneers of electronic music like Krzysztof Penderecki were produced in these laboratories of sound.

The early happenings and actions of the 1960s were associated with intellectual freedom and reform. The exhilaration of experimentation declined during the decade and in the 1970s new critical forms of art emerged which associated sound with surveillance and censorship.

Curated by David Crowley and Daniel Muzyczuk

Artists: Walerian Borowczyk, Collective Actions, Andrzej Dłużniewski, Szábolcs Esztényi, Bulat Galeyev, Milan Grygar, Zofia & Oskar Hansen, Zoltán Jeney, Milan Knížák, Grzegorz Kowalski, Zygmunt Krauze, Komar & Melamid, Katalin Ladik, Jan Lenica, Dóra Maurer, Henryk Morel, Vladan Radovanović, Józef Robakowski, Eugeniusz Rudnik, Bogusław Schaeffer,Cezary Szubartowski, László Vidovszky, Krzysztof Wodiczko

More than 30 works will be on display at Calvert 22. Key works include:

  • 'Destroyed records', artworks and recordings made by splitting and combining recordings on vinyl by Fluxus artist Milan Knížák in the mid-1960s
  • 'Acoustic drawings' by Czech artist Milan Grygar in the early 1970 in which the process of creating the image was both a performance and the creation of a new piece of music. Grygar's work has never been exhibited in London before.
  • 'Just Transistor Radios', a critical intervention into broadcast radio in the People's Republic of Poland in 1970 by artist Krzysztof Wodiczko and composer Szábolcs Esztényi. This work has been recreated for the exhibition
  • 'Music Within and Outside', an exercise in self-surveillance by Moscow conceptualists Collective Actions, using photography and reel-to-reel recording equipment in 1984
  • graphic scores in the form of contemporary collage by phonopoetic artist Katalin Ladik made in Yugoslavia in the 1970s
  • 'Music Code Passport' by Sots-Artists Komar & Melamid, a 1976 composition based on the internal passport required by all citizens in the Soviet Union
  • 'Kalah', a film and installation made in 1980 by Hungarian artist Dora Maurer with avant-garde composer, Zoltan Jeney, using chance operations.

Gallery Opening Hours:
Wednesday - Sunday: 12pm - 6pm
first Thursdays and bank holiday weekends noon–9pm
Admission free

More information can be found here
T +44 (0) 20 7613 2141

Milan Knížák, Destroyed Music

1963-1979, vinyl records
Courtesy of Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation


Sounding the Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984 was first shown at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, June–August 2012.
A CD of recordings of musical works in the exhibition has been issued under the same title by Bółt.
A book-length study of the themes in the exhibition was published by the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź in 2012. Copies will be available for sale at Calvert 22 Foundation for the duration of the exhibition in London, or can be purchased via the Muzeum Sztuki website (ISBN 9788684773748). 

Talks and events
Panel discussion: Curating Sound
Thursday 27 June, 7pm
Calvert 22, free entry

The panel considers the conceptual and practical challenges that arise when working with sound-based practices in visual arts spaces.

Panellists include David Crowley and Daniel Muzyczuk, Curators of Sounding the Body Electric: Experiments in Art And Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984; Aura Satz, artist; Nathaniel Budzinski, Editor, Cross Platform Section, The Wire magazine; chaired by Lina Džuverović, Artistic Director, Calvert 22 Foundation 

The Wire Salon: In the Experimental Zone: Art and Music in Eastern Europe in the 1960s and '70s
Thursday 11 July, 8pm
Café Oto, 18-22 Ashwin St, London E8 3DL

David Crowley, one of the curators of Sounding the Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984, will explore the politics of experimentation in Eastern Europe during the 1960s and '70s. The talk will focus on the sound works of Krzysztof Wodiczko, Milan Knížák, Zygmunt Krauze, Dóra Maurer, Zoltán Jeney, the Bosch + Bosch Group and others, and will be illustrated with audio and film clips. 


Calvert 22, 22 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP


From: 25 Jun 2013
To: 25 Aug 2013


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