FRIDAY

Mixing art and politics can often be unsettling, particularly when governments set up shop as art critics (the Nazi regime’s infamous Entartete Kunst—or “Degenerate Art”—exhibition of 1937 being only the most blatant example). But the alchemy of art and politics can be more constructive (at least for the people) when it’s a bottom-up affair. One of the greatest examples of this was the former Czechoslovakia’s Charter 77 movement. Fueled by artistic and intellectual energy, Charter 77 used the politics of free expression to embarrass and ultimately aid in unseating Czechoslovakia’s communist government in the celebrated “Velvet Revolution” of 1989. Conceptual artist and gadfly Milan Kohout (pictured) was among the most prominent figures in Charter 77—so prominent, in fact, that he was expelled by the Czechoslovak government in 1986. Yet Kohout has not rested on the laurels of wresting power from a totalitarian government. Collaborating with the Boston-based avant-gardist Mobius Artists Group, Kohout has created works that critique the lingering intolerance and injustice in Central Europe—including the plight of the oft-scapegoated Roma. In his new work, co-created with David Franklin and dubbed Flying and Flowing: Horizontal and Vertical, Kohout, Franklin, and fellow Mobius travelers David Franklin, Tom Plsek, and Mari Novotny-Jones tackle economic and social inequities in a performance that mixes voice, video, movement, and spoken word. The performance promises to be unsettling—in an illuminating way. It begins at 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, 3900 Spring of Freedom St. NW. $12. (202) 274-9100. (Richard Byrne)