SocialEast Seminar on Art and Espionage

Courtauld Institute London
27 February 2009

This SocialEast Seminar considers the involvement of art during the Cold War with espionage, both on the level of international exchange and in specific national contexts. It deals with attempts within the Eastern Bloc to monitor artists through surveillance and networks of informers, the role of art espionage as an instrument of Sovietisation, and the methods used to control the involvement of artists in the international art world. There will also be discussion of the parallel role of Western organisations in activities from cultural espionage to the use of art as a propaganda weapon. The seminar will also consider artistic responses to the phenomenon of spying and the wider legacy of artistic espionage for the topography of contemporary art.

Mark Boswell (Filmmaker, San Francisco Art Institute)
Gaczyne (or) Deep Inside the KGB Infiltration of Walt Disney’s Brain

László Beke (Institute of Art History, Budapest)
Communication and Disinformation: Hungarian Aspects of the Cambridge Five

Catherine Fraixe (Ecole nationale supérieure d'art de Bourges)
Inventing a European Art : US Involvement in the Struggle for a United Europe

Kädi Talvoja (Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn)
Missionary Work of an Pollockian in Moscow in 1957


Doina Anghel (National Museum of Art Bucharest) and Raluca Voinea (Curator,
Surveiller et partir: Lists, informers networks, espionage, cultural censorship during 1945-1989 in Romania

Kata Krasznahorkai (University of Hamburg)
Code Name: "Schwitters". The First Hungarian Happening in the Reflection of a Secret Agents Report

Łukasz Ronduda (Center of Contemporary Art, Warsaw)
Neo-Avant-Garde Movements in the Polish Secret Services Files


Nina Levitt (Artist, York University, Toronto)
And She Was: Installations Inspired by Women in WWII

Anthony Downey (Sotheby’s Institute, London)
The Lives of Others: Artur Zmijewski’s ‘Repetition’ and the Ethics of Surveillance

Franciska Zólyom (Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art Dunaújváros)
Missing Evidence: an Artistic Attempt to Reconstruct the Story of an American Superspy

Paolo Cirio (Artist, Italy)
The Big Plot

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