Working Group 3: Alternative Cultures

Working Group Chairs: Katalin Cseh-Varga and Rolf Werenskjold

This Working Group explores the role of the alternative groups and forums in the creation and dissemination of cultural ‘autonomy’ in the former socialist countries. Alternative cultures consisted of cultural practices, media and ideas of non-obedience, that were not always without presuppositions and that were not completely independent of state infrastructure and politics. We seek to address the genealogy of alternative culture as a point of departure.

We will also examine how the ephemerality of the alternative media products testifies to the precarious conditions of their creation and how it is reflected in an uneven archival record of different forms of alternative cultural practices. The Working Group also aims to identify alternative culture’s gate-keepers who have coined the historiography of dissent, in order to generate a novel understanding of origins, conditions and effects. The approach WG3 applies is comparative and transnational, including both the self-perception of alternative culture and the outside perspective from beyond the Iron Curtain. The three major focus areas of investigation include: social practices of gathering, locations of gathering and modes of exchange (media). The broad topics of research will range from club culture, avant-garde art, fan communities, resourceful venues, to media, such as fanzines, do-it-yourself fashion, foreign news reporting, experimental film and mail art.

Image of DJ Živac. Photograph by Gordan Novak. Date: 1968-69. Location: Pallach, Rijeka.

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