Symposium: Reclaim Happiness. Opposing Systems (24.5. 2011 13-17)

Symposium: Reclaim Happiness. Opposing Systems  (24.5.  2011   13-17)

cordially invite you to the symposium

Reclaim Happiness: Opposing Systems

Tuesday 24.5.  1-5 p.m.

curated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes


This symposium considers East European socialism and post-communist capitalism as opposing systems and explores the tactics devised by artists, dissidents and social activists to circumvent, escape or resist them. Issues to be discussed include the question of how connected the artistic avant-garde and political dissidence were under socialism, especially in the wake of the protest movements of 1968.

More generally, how capitalistic in practice was the system disparagingly labelled ‘really existing socialism’ by leftist dissidents, especially in terms of economic and working practices? In terms of opposition to the system, the symposium will discuss the inventive methods of everyday resistance against both totalitarianism in politics and society and exploitative conditions in the workplace.

Why does the hidden history of opposition to the socialist system continue to fascinate and how have contemporary artists tried to salvage the submerged experience of resistance? Is there perhaps an untapped reserve of oppositional energy in Eastern Europe, and if so, can it be turned back on?



1.00 Maja and Reuben Fowkes (, ‘New Left East, Socialism as (if) it really existed’
1.25 Tamás St.Auby (artist, Budapest) and Miklós Haraszti (writer) discuss art, dissidence, poetry, work and leisure under socialism
1.55 Fedor Blaščák (philosopher, Bratislava) ‘If the enemy is a clear cut, a stroke can be strong’
2.20 Adam Chodzko (artist, UK) introduction to The Pickers
2.45 Coffee break
3.15 Franco Bifo Berardi (philosopher)3.45 Jiří Skála (artist, Prague) presentation of project One Family of Objects (2011)
4.10 Roundtable discussion with Loophole to Happiness artists Katarina Šević, Péter Szabó, Csaba Nemes and Siniša Labrović.
4.45 Screening of Tamás St.Auby’s film Centaur (1973-5)
5.30 End

The symposium is held in English; free entry

Participants are invited to attend THE OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION Loophole to Happiness, curated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes (, at Futura Centre for Contemporary Art at 6 pm.

FUTURA, Holečkova 49, 150 00 Praha 5


Loophole to Happiness sets out to locate and explore the freedom-enhancing loopholes that exist on the margins of repressive social systems from East European communism to global capitalism. Faced with the perfection of techniques of absorbing criticism and the systematic mobilisation of our creativity, sociability and sentiments for economic ends, the search is on for new forms of resistance to the endless pressure of production. This exhibition takes the inventive strategies of worker resistance under communism as the starting point for fresh attempts to imagine exceptions, find escape routes and evade the smooth surface of today’s neo-liberal capitalist order.

Participating artists: Zbyněk Baladrán, Adam Chodzko, Petra Feriancova, Siniša Labrović, Ciprian Muresan, Csaba Nemes, Nada Prlja, Janek Simon, Péter Szabó and Katarina Šević.

For more information see:

Project Partners :
Trafo gallery, Muzeum Sztuki, amt_project, Futura,, tranzitdisplay

European Cultural Foundation, Visegrad Fund



* Img.: Adam Chodzko, The Pickers, 2009