Friday, August 08, 2014

Radio Ga Ga

Last year in Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev’s so-called 'brain' exhibition within her Documenta at Kassel in Germany, we saw the most remarkable object. Of course it had a compelling story. During the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia in the late 1960s there was the usual crack down on communication in and out of the country. Radios were banned and with them the opportunity to hear something of what was going on in the rest of the world. Both to enrage the Russian military who policed the decree and to entertain and assert themselves during a bitter struggle, many Czechs made mock radios. They would crudely paint bricks with shapes to represent dials and knobs and maybe add a stick to stand in for an aerial. Reputably there were thousands of them. These brick radios would be placed in the middle of street café tables and people would gather round them deeply engrossed by what they were ‘hearing’ from the outside world. It worked as a provocation and a number of the bricks were confiscated. This year we saw some early work by the German artist Isa Genzken who had made her own concrete radio substitute. And now this weekend a stunning photograph of a clandestine radio made in a secret location for use somewhere in Northern Korea.

Images: left, radio from North Korea and right Isa Genzken, Galaway. Bottom Tamás St. Turba, Czechoslovak Radio, 1968