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The Art of Fantastical Dematerialization

The story of conceptual art in Slovakia, more precisely its first, most important phase in 1963 – 1972

The somewhat complicated title of our exhibition comes from a work by Július Koller. Koller himself used the artistic pseudonym U.F.O., by which letters he designated all his post-1970 activities as Universal-cultural Futurological Operations. However, it does not imply the exhibition relates to ufology or other mysterious phenomena inspiring art.

You will see works by three major representatives of this movement: Július Koller, Stano Filko and Peter Bartoš, alongside works by Milan Adamčiak, Alex Mlynárčik, Rudolf Sikora, Dezider Tóth, and more. They are of no little renown, but are rarely if ever exhibited, and they were made up to the time the sweet sixties were ultimately extinguished.

Why call it The Art of Fantastical Dematrialization? We hoped to sidestep the term conceptualism, which has in recent decades become all too broad and obscure, while also to suggest a certain characteristic feature of this type of art in Slovakia’s cultural context.


For Slovak conceptualism was not the “hard core” or ultra-conceptualism that arose analytically and systematically from linguistic philospohy, as was especially apparent in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Rather, here this was a freer way of dematerializing art – the art of concepts, ideas, plans, projects, and thoughts – that did not necessarily turn into artefacts.

In Slovakia, dematerialization often manifested itself in art in ways unpredictable; it was not systematic, but it was charmingly enigmatic, and in a sence fantastical. This is borne out by the international recognition it received. Indeed even the “hard core” conceptualist Lawrence Weiner admitted that conceptual artists are more mystics than rationalists; and in this country they were somewhat transcendentalist, as in the unreservedly secularized society of so-called socialism, this type of art became a medium of transcendence.