Thursday, 11:50am
22 August 2013

See and hear

Sounding the Body Electric: Experiments in Art and Music in Eastern Europe 1957–1984

Calvert 22, Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP

If you have an interest in the intersection of sound and visual culture
and you’re anywhere near London before next Sunday, I strongly recommend a visit to the Calvert 22 gallery in Shoreditch, writes John L. Walters.

The gallery is showing an extraordinary assembly of audiovisual tricks and treats from behind the former ‘Iron Curtain’. Curated by David Crowley and Daniel Muzyczuk, ‘Sounding the Body Electric’ was first seen and heard at the Museum Sztuki in Łódź (Poland) last summer.

A photograph of 5x, an ‘audio visual performance’, at Foksal gallery, Warsaw.
Top: Milan Knížák, Destroyed Music, 1963-1979.

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For anyone familiar with the graphic scores and diagrammatic experiments of Cage, Crumb, Cardew and Stockhausen, the show greatly extends our understanding of the parallel waves of audiovisual experimentation that exploded worldwide in the postwar era. Eastern European composers and artists made work of surprising audacity and freedom despite enormous political and economic restraints.

Bogusław Schaeffer, PR – I VIII, 1972.

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Film installation Vine taken at Calvert 22.

The exhibition’s many highlights included animations (by Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Dóra Maurer and many others), graphic scores (Bogusław Schaeffer) and broken, repurposed vinyl (Milan Knížák) that anticipates Christian Marclay by a generation. There’s also early work by the notorious Komar & Melamid and a 2012 performance of the politically brave Just Transistor Radios originally created by Krzysztof Wodiczko and Szábolcs Esztényi in Polish  in 1970, at one of the colder moments of the Cold War.

Katalin Ladik, Selected Folk Poems.

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Komar & Melamid, Music Code-Passport, 1976. Courtesy of Vitaly Komar.

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There will be an extensive review of ‘Sounding the Body Electric’ by Mark Sinker in the forthcoming Eye 86. Let’s hope that this stimulating exhibition tours elsewhere – north, south, west or east.

Frames from Kalah, a film by Dóra Maurer, András Klausz and Zoltán Jeney, 1980.

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Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. You can see what Eye 85 looks like at Eye before You Buy on Vimeo.

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