Digbeth First Friday Eastern Bloc Songs exhibition opening

Eastern Bloc Songs: Party, Pop and Politics by Wayne Burrows

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia during 1968, and in anticipation of next year’s 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Centrala presents Wayne Burrows’ Eastern Bloc Songs: Party, Pop and Politics, the history and development of popular music from former Eastern Bloc Communist states during 1963 – 1988. Archive materials such as state-approved photographs, posters, EP and LP sleeve art, TV footage and promotional films brought together by Wayne Burrows, create a peculiar, audio-visual archive of Central and Eastern European music, closely tied up with complicated political context.

The full compilation of audio-visual materials is discussing the history of European pop culture by including the impact of music artists of Central and Eastern European origin, such as Czerwone Gitary, Marta Kubišová, Atlantis, Hana and Petr Ulrychovi, or Synkopy 61. The specificity of those artists lies in their singular stylistic identity – they appear as a unique blend of various influences such as local musical tradition and Anglo – American patterns, both under restrictions of an oppressive regime. What is important for Wayne Burrows’ approach to those issues is the implicit parallel between state restricted artistic freedom of 1963-1988 period in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and other Eastern Bloc countries and the contemporary shape of artists’ working conditions, which depend on Western neoliberal ideology.