Gaczyne (or) Deep Inside the KGB Infiltration of Walt Disney’s Brain
In 1966, producers of the cold war television spy series: “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” published a spy handbook “The ABC’s of Espionage,” which describes in detail various training procedures of the world’s leading spy agencies; M16, CIA, KGB, Interpol, etc. The chapter devoted to the KGB is the most hypothetical and mysterious. It states that select Soviet spies are trained in a remote location between The Tatar and Bashkir Republics called Gaczyne: “the most secret place in the world, 425 square miles divided into diverse western nationalities, where the Russians brainwash their agents into becoming “natives” of the country they are to infiltrate.”
At the same time in the United States, Walt Disney began research and development on a future utopian city called EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.) This city would be separated into various miniature countries from around the world inhabited by their own citizens who would live and work there. Epcot opened in 1982 in Florida (within Disneyworld.) According to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, Disneyworld is the real America, and everything surrounding it is fake. In my paper, to be presented in PowerPoint with images from KGB Archives, current artistic photos of Epcot, and interviews with the people working there, I will demonstrate how the construction of these projects resulted in EPCOT becoming the inverse replication of GACZYNE where, instead of knowingly transforming spies into becoming “illegal” citizens of another country, EPCOT’s citizens are unknowingly transformed into agents or possibly counter agents of the American spectacle to re-infiltrate their homelands legally. I will apply Baudrillard’s Simulation theory, Jorge Luis Borges’ reciprocal interconnectedness, and William S. Burroughs' concept of Interzone
Communication and Disinformation: Hungarian Aspects of the Cambridge Five
This paper considers the Hungarian aspects of the activity of the Oxford Five and other groups before and after the WW2. A lot of Hungarian artists, art historians and members of the leftwing intelligentia were in contact with Western agents and the Comintern, especially those who participated in the Spanish Civil War, or were prisoners of war in Soviet camps during or after the WW2.
Inventing a European Art : US Involvement in the Struggle for a United Europe
Described by the press as « a group of American citizens » who wanted to help Europeans to build a United Europe, the American Committee on United Europe was an umbrella organization created by the CIA. Its main function was to support the European movement’s propaganda activities in Western Europe. The archives of the ACUE, of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and of Nelson A. Rockefeller show that in 1950 the ACUE enrolled several staff members of the Museum of Modern Art. Alfred Barr, in particular, was involved in a campaign launched by the ECA in 1950 to improve American exports to Europe, threatened by « the dollar gap ».
This campaign included exhibitions devised to help European artists to show, and sell, their work in the US, but which were soon used as a propaganda weapon in favor of a « free » Europe. I would like to address two main questions. To what extent was the definition of a « European » art influenced by that changing set of conditions ? What part did artists from Central and Eastern Europe play in these American programs and did their role change with the change of that definition ?
Missionary Work of a Pollockian in Moscow in 1957
This paper is a case study about the 6th World Festival of Youth and Students, held in Moscow in 1957. It was planned as a memorable event of Soviet propaganda, in reality it rather became a learning platform of modern Western life for soviet youth. For many, one of the most exciting events was the meeting of abstract art, introduced in the form of country-displays at the large international arena, but also at the open art studio. For the first time in the history of Soviet social realism, a profound and nearly uncensored discussion between the followers of abstractionism and realism was born at the international art seminar.
The central figure of that politically hot festival became an American artist Harry Colman – an Accidental Hero of that story. He was almost beggedto make a demonstration of action painting at the international art studio, being mistakenly recognized as the real Pollock by some soviet artists.Unable to compete with thousands of more original abstract expressionists living in the USA in the 1950’s, he still became a star of the art world for several weeks in the Soviet capital. His working was shot by documentalists from many countries and his movements were commented by journalists and caricaturists.
The paper will open the background of that "historical error" and research the effects of the show by an American “spy”. The research bases on documents and materials from Moscow archives: RGALI, RGASPI, RGAKFD.
B) SECRET POLICE AND UNDERGROUND ART
Surveiller et partir: Lists, informers networks, espionage, cultural censorship during 1945-1989 in Romania
This presentation will focus on the means of monitoring and censoring the artists in Romania, through the surveillance practiced by the informers’ networks and the controlling of Romanian intellectuals’ travels to the West.
In 1948 the ministry responsible for the application of the official directions in culture was called the Ministry of Arts and Information (later turned into the Ministry of Arts), and in 1950 the national Union of Artists was formed, an organization which had an important role in the promotion of official art and the surveillance of the artists’ activities. These two institutions had to exercise their vigilance both internally, where the cultural “cleansing” and the restrictions on the freedom of expression were operated, and externally, by following and closely monitoring the Romanian intellectuals emigrated to the West (especially between 1974-1980). The divergences from the directives fixed by the Union had the effect of eliminating the wrongful artist from public life, and starting with 1960 a series of trials took place, for “deviation”, the charges often counting “espionage” and “plots against the State”.
Neo–avant–garde movement in the Polish Security Service files
My presentation is based on archive research conducted at the National Remembrance Institute where Security Service and Ministry of the Interior 1945 - 1990 files are stored. An analysis of the SB's operations against members of the 1970s Polish neo-avant-garde and its effects enables us to look in different way at the relationships between art and politics, and at the issue of institutional critique at the time. In my presentation I will focus on the case codenamed Letraset which affected KwieKulik duo who where members of Soc art movement (a group of avantgarde artists who where a candidates or memebers of the communist party and wanted to reform socialist state). KK in 1975 in conection to their artistic and political activity organized a protest against the Pracownie Sztuk Plastycznych [visual Art Workshops or PSP]. This propaganda institution was a nationwide monopolist in charge of all public-sphere visual-arts commissions, from shop window displays to larges-scale monumental environments. Virtually all Polish artists of the communist period, who upon graduating from art school decided to work 'in the profesion', lived off PSP commissions.
Code Name: "Schwitters". The First Hungarian Happening in the Reflection of a Secret Agents Report
The Lunch – In Memoriam Batu Khan was the first Hungarian happening in 1966 organized by Tamás St. Auby and Gábor Altorjay in Budapest. This was a groundbreaking event not only in the history of the Hungarian but also in the Eastern-European avantgarde. It set the origin for all following performances and happenings and was referred to as an act of unhindered artistic freedom despite the political repression.
In the proposed paper I would like to reflect on the history of the happening based on the records of secret agents and spies who were in very close contact with the artists and described the events with painstaking accuracy. They did not merely document but also drew a short – and roughly correct – history of the genre of happening mentioning the surrealists, Rauchenberg and even quoting Allen Ginsberg. In one agents report St.Auby is referred to as “Schwitters” – it seems this agent was an expert. Later on he also wrote a record entitled “On the social impacts of the Happening”. At least five other agents were instructed with espionage of the Happening-artists, and were also sent to Poland and Czechoslovakia to detect further centres.
The paper would like to point out from the unique perspective of spies how influential and dangerous these activities socially and politically were – beyond their artistic importance.
C) CONTEMPORARY ART AND ESPIONAGE
And She Was: Installations Inspired by Women in WWII
During WWII, hundreds of British and American women worked in top-secret intelligence organizations and held essential positions in resistance groups — a significant deviation from the gender roles at the time. As men became increasingly subject to enlistment or forced labour, women had the advantage of being able to move about more freely. Their deployment eventually proved that feminine skills could be particularly useful in clandestine work.
Within popular culture, the image of the female spy is often that of the hyper-feminine seductress. While war museum displays about women in intelligence operations are exceedingly rare, autobiographies, novels, and diaries are becoming more available in the popular press. In public archives, recently declassified documents hold a fascinating version of their presence through a lens of military bureaucracy and misogyny.
Since 2001, I have been researching the rich terrain of the roles women played in Allied intelligence operations during WWII. Much of this work has been inspired by archival documents, photographs and films found during periods of research in Canada, the US and the UK. Between 2003 and 2008 I produced and exhibited a trilogy of multi-media installations that examined wartime women in relation to the dialectic space between historical “truth” and popular fiction. I will present an illustrated lecture highlighting my recent artworks that feature large-scale sculpture, photography and interactive sound and video.
The Lives of Others: Artur Zmijewski’s ‘Repetition’ and the Ethics of Surveillance
Artur Zmijewski’s ‘Repetition’, 2005, is a 39 minute film that recreates the so-called ‘Stanford Experiment’ of 1971. The original experiment, conducted by Philip Zimbardo, involved college students taking on the allocated roles of ‘prisoners’ and ‘guards’ respectively. The entire experiment, which took place in the basement of the Stanford psychology building under the surveillance of Zimbardo and his colleagues, was to become notorious. After six days, in which he noted that his volunteers had internalized their roles so completely that his ‘prisoners’ had become traumatized and his ‘guards’ increasingly sadistic, Zimbardo called a halt to the experiment on ethical grounds.
Artur Zmijewski, Repetition, 2005, still from film.
Zmijewski’s take on this experiment, which took place in a series of make-shift cells with mounted surveillance cameras and one-way glass, ended in a similar degree of calumny. Far from examining, or offering insight into, the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard, which was the stated aim of Zimbardo’s experiment, ‘Repetition’ would appear to tell us more about what happens when individuals — in this instance unemployed Polish men — are put under constant surveillance in an artificial environment and cajoled into performing certain roles. In the following paper, I will examine how Zmijewski employs an aesthetics of surveillance to co-opt the viewer into this highly far from contrived scenario and, perhaps more problematically, how it deploys an approach that has more to do with TV reality shows, in its interjections and manipulations, than with Zimbardo’s admittedly flawed original experiment.
To suggest as much is to draw attention to a broader theoretical and heuristic issue in art criticism today: in a milieu where participative and collaborative practices have become an increasingly notable factor in the visual arts, the argument goes, there has emerged a tendency to examine the ethics of such practices as opposed to the aesthetics. The extent to which we can ignore the ethical quandaries that arise in works such as ‘Repetition’ is nonetheless debateable, nowhere more so that when it is precisely an aesthetics of surveillance that, in drawing us into a form of collusion in the events that unfold before us, is being utilized for what are arguably dubious ends.
Missing Evidence: an Artistic Attempt to Reconstruct the Story of an American Superspy
The paper follows the development of an upcoming exhibition project conceived by German artist Tilo Schulz for the Institute of Contemporary Art – Dunaújváros, Hungary. The project takes as its point of departure the story of Noel Field, an American diplomat and left-wing intellectual, who was accused to be a double agent, was arrested in 1949, and was detained in a Hungarian prison till 1954. Even though Field never appeared in court in person, he was one of the key figures in the so-called show trials in Eastern Europe that aimed at the elimination of Communist Party members in favour of Moscow-trained operatives. Referring to the Field case on a rather abstract level, the exhibition project focuses on representational issues discussing absence as a doctrine of modernity.
The paper furthermore endeavours to trace how meaning is being de/re/constructed in art, with special regard to means and methods of surveillance appropriated and alienated by contemporary artists. The issues of fake, incrimination, control, information and (auto)punishment will be discussed through works by Tamás St. Auby, Jenny Perlin, Alexandru Solomon, Ion Grigorescu, Mladen Stilinovic and others.
The Big Plot
“Eurasia Revolution” of “The Big Plot” fiction will be a semiological infection in the info space, it will be done with symbolic actions and new signs, and these will be published on Internet with videos, pictures and websites. The nature of “Eurasia Revolution” will have connections with history and references in literature and in art. It will be a mix of credible elements but it will be at the end a paradoxically parody of new forms of real radical nationalism that it’s raising in all Eurasia. On the fiction side, the reference of “Eruasia State” come from the novel 1984 of G.Orwell. It is paradigmatic in order to mix the sources of “The Big Plot” story.
For example the Flag of the “Eurasia Revolution” has drawn from the description written in the Orwell’s novel and the Eurasia is one of three super-states in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the others being Eastasia and Oceania. The cloned identity of a real Russian spy will be used as a plot device for telling a story about the political and sentimental weakness of our era, which are accelerated by the compulsory use of personal media and social networking platforms. Finally, the Plot connects the identity of the spy with the radical political movement of Eurasia, mixing reality with fiction and underling propaganda in russian contemporary political context.