Actually Existing Artworlds of Socialism
Actually Existing Artworlds under Socialism
The tensions between actual and ideal versions of socialism elucidated by East German theorist Rudolf Bahro in 1977 are taken as a starting point for reconsidering East European art from the radical effervescence of the 1960s to the post-utopian twilight of the late 1970s. The special issue is premised on the concept that artistic life in Eastern Europe was profoundly shaped by the structures, conventions and workings of the overarching system, with artists and critics compelled to negotiate its productive contradictions. It examines the quotidian functioning of art scenes across the region that entailed the drawing up of tacit compromises and maintenance of calculated ambiguities in relations between party authorities and artists. Ultimately it was the latent and unrealised promise of actually existing socialism as much as its demonstrative failings that marked a crucial difference in the attitude of East European artists to the utopian reverberations of the era.