Sam Cermak (QMUL) - 2020-21 Students

Slovak and Czech Performance Art from the 1960s to the 1989

After Czechoslovakia’s dissolution in 1993, Czech and Slovak artists have been struggling to assert their national identities as distinct performance art histories. This project seeks to investigate the development of Slovak and Czech performance art from the 1960s to the present as two arguably distinct yet complementary genealogies. Due to the particular history of Czechia and Slovakia, Anglophone performance art research tends to conflate them into a single national culture. While these two countries have a strong social and cultural affinity historically, there has also been an increasing anxiety among artists since the Velvet Divorce about who owns the cultural remnants and artefacts of Czechoslovakia. The conflation of the countries seems to privilege Czechia over Slovakia and has incidentally had a reductive effect on the way Slovak art in particular has been researched internationally. The lack of a homogenous identity was a key reason in the Velvet Divorce, thus the continuous conflation of Czechoslovak art contingent on national identity is reductive. The research will intervene in this complex political situation by analysing a series of case studies from before, during and after the Velvet Divorce to disentangle their national identities and establish their genealogies as distinct within performance art histories.

Primary supervisor: Dominic Johnson, QMUL
Secondary supervisor: Nicholas Ridout, QMUL

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