Biennial of Dissent

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The so-called Biennale del dissenso culturale [Biennial of Dissent] was held from 15 October to 17 November 1977 in Venice (a year between the main exhibitions) to mark the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution. It had examined the phenomenon of dissent as an alternative to official aesthetics and ideology in the Eastern Bloc countries. It consisted of three exhibitions devoted to film, samizdat literature and fine arts. The fine arts exhibition, La nuova arte sovietica. Una prospettiva non ufficiale [New Art from the Soviet Union. An Unofficial Perspective], was curated by Enrico Crispolti and Gabriella Di Milia Moncada and featured mainly Soviet unofficial artists.

The exhibition aimed to examine the phenomenon of dissent as an alternative to the official aesthetics and ideology in the socialist-communist Eastern Bloc states. This project caused political discontent long before the Biennale opened. The Soviet Union protested against the fact that an unofficial culture, which was not recognised by the official institutions in the country itself, was to be shown abroad as representative. After the opening of the central art exhibition La nuova arte sovietica: una prospettiva non ufficiale (The new Soviet art: an unofficial perspective), political relations between the USSR and Italy were so tense that the Soviet Union did not take part in the Biennale di Venezia for several years. [1]


  • Il cinema nell'Europa dell'Est, 1960-1977: il cinema di Stato e i suoi artisti, ed. Mira Liehm, intro. Lino Micciché, Venice: La Biennale di Venezia, and Marsilio Editori, 1977, 190+[32] pp. Presents the history of film in Eastern European countries between 1960 and 1977, a period of continuous conflict between artists and the state that controlled film production. The core of the publication consists of studies on cinemas in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the German Democratic Republic, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, depending on the historical and social conditions. The two authors, film and literary critic and publicist Antonín Liehm and film critic and historian Drahomíra (Mira) Liehmová, give an overview of the various "schools", directors of the most important films, etc. The last part of the book contains essays by various authors relating to film and its creators in this era, such as Andrzej Wajda's essay on Miklós Jancsó and contributions by Otakar Vávra, Ladislav Helge, Jaroslav Kučera, Ester Krumbachová, Jiří Menzel, Pavel Juráček, Ivan Passer and Jan Kadár on Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. TOC. (Italian)
  • URSS: gli scrittori del dissenso: Bukowsky, Calamov, Daniel, Guinzburg, Pliusc, Solgeniztin, Venice: La Biennale di Venezia, 1977. (Italian)
  • La nuova arte sovietica: una prospettiva non ufficiale, eds. Enrico Crispolti and Gabriella Moncada, Venice: La Biennale di Venezia, and Marsilio Editori, 1978, 239 pp. Exh. catalogue. [2] [3] (Italian)
  • Libertà e socialismo: momenti storici del dissenso, Milan: SugarCo, 1978, 333 pp. Speeches from the Congress held in Venice in 1977. (Italian)