[artinfo] [fwd] Belgrade Art Inc. in Secession, Vienna

geert geert at xs4all.nl
Wed Jun 30 10:24:18 CEST 2004

From: Uros Djuric <autonomy at b92.net>

Moments of Change
Opening: Thursday, July 1, 2004, 7 p.m.
July 2 September 5, 2004
Main Hall

The exhibition introduces Belgrade's contemporary art positions, with
their links to Zagreb and Novi Sad, and explores their historical
origins and role models. The concept of the show deals with non-linear
moments of upheaval over a broad period of time from the 1920s to the
present, in which contemporary art production in Belgrade, due mainly to
artist-led initiatives, was involved in a close international exchange.

The exhibition deals with the approaches local artist initiatives were
and are using to create contexts of art and theory production. By
framing fields of reference and establishing networks, their individual
positions in the art world also become graspable on a greater scale.
Three group projects and thirteen individual positions (cooperations)
are presented in Belgrade Art Inc.

The historical artist group Zenit, as well as the artists Mrdan Bajic,
Milorad Mladenovic, Skart group, and Mileta Prodanovic, all deal with
urbanity and archaic counterparts in different ways. Milorad Mladenovic
works with photographs of painted-over graffiti in Belgrade's urban
space. He arranges individual photos in sequences, producing new
alphabets and sign sequences. Mileta Prodanovic is present in the
exhibition with photographs and water colors. In his photographs, the
motif of an angel repeats itself. This angel is a specific detail from a
fresco in Mileseva, a monastery in Serbia, but it appears without
context, reduced to a symbol. The popularity of this image in recent
years is caused by an era of renewed nationalization and religiousness
and has been massively present in public spaces, magazines, logos, and
product packaging. In his watercolors, Prodanovic cites historical
paintings and frescoes by shifting urban castles usually found in the
background to the center of the image. At the same time he links them to
today's consumer culture by labeling them with logos.

Skart group is an artist group from Belgrade that discusses the theme of
city in both small, elaborate graphic publications as well as in direct
actions in urban space. For the exhibition they published a pamphlet
that will be handed out by a performer during the opening. Tito, Richard
Burton, and a bookseller from Belgrade play the main roles in an absurd
scene that cynically reveals the current political confusion in Serbia.

Mrdan Bajic has achieved international recognition in recent years
through his work in progress Yugomuzej (1998/2002). The project is a
virtual museum, located beneath Slavia square in Belgrade. The museum
exhibits relicts from Yugoslavian history in a spatial-sculptural
comprehensive style. The work is shown as an installation in the
Secession. An integrated CD-Rom enables a virtual tour through the
Yugomuzej. This project links the themes "city" and "memorial" to
aspects of ideology and history.

Similar themes can be found in the pieces by Milica Tomic, Mihael
Milunovic, and Milica Ruzicic. Milica Tomic's work has been widely
exhibited internationally in recent years. In the Secession, Tomic shows
the video On Love Afterwards (2003), which documents interviews with
partisans who were active in the National Liberation War during World
War II. This work is about the relationship of past and the present and
directly refers to the political system of the former Socialist Republic
of Yugoslavia, where politics were not democratic, but more liberal than
in the rest of socialist Eastern Europe, allowing or sometimes even
supporting critical, conceptual art.

Mihael Milunovic plays with the irony of political symbols in his
project Flags for the New Millenium (2004). The flags, hoisted in front
of the Secession, combine symbols in an unusual and disturbing way that
makes it possible to recognize elements of well known flags - but do not
represent any system. The artist not only attempts to deconstruct the
establishment of political symbols but also to question the rituals and
fetish tied to flags.

JK (2003) by Milica Ruzicic is a life-size sculpture, which presents a
"real" Turbofolk singer exaggerated into an icon. Turbofolk, a loud
combination of popular folk songs and contemporary sound production is a
very popular form of music, which has been dominating Belgrade's
entertainment media since the 1990s.

Mirjana Dordevic also investigates phenomena of public communication
forms in her installations. The SMS Archives (2004) sets SMS messages
into a different media and draws attention to them as large-format

The theme of identity, which has certainly been dominant in Belgrade's
art since the latter half of the 1990s, is addressed in works by Uros
Djuric and Miodrag Krkobabic. In the series Elkepop, Uros Djuric affirms
the artistic strategies of Elke Krystufek: the paintings are
self-portraits (in earlier works, the artist has taken on a variety of
roles such as soccer player, VIP, and Kasimir Malevitch) combined with
text quotations. The idea for the project arose in an intense exchange
with Krystufek and was first shown as a double solo exhibition in 2003
in the salon of the Museum for Contemporary Art in Belgrade.

Necrospection (2000) by Miodrag Krkobabic is a work-in-progress and
comprises a series of obituaries which, beginning with the artist's year
of birth, document every succeeding year as the potential final one.

Marina Abramovic, Rasa Todosijevic, and Braco Dimitrijevic have taken up
central positions in the artistic practice since the 1970s. They
consider artistic production a platform for the reflection of social
conflicts and find it necessary to keep the contents of their work
embedded in current and historic contexts.

The group projects include Zenit, a Dadaist movement and magazine from
the 1920's based in Zagreb and later Belgrade, which commissioned
original textual and graphic contributions by Malevitch, Marinetti,
Tatlin, Archipenko, Loos, Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy; the exhibition
entitled In Another Moment, initiated by Braco and Nena Dimitrijevic in
1971, with invited artists including Lawrence Wiener, Daniel Buren and
Art & Language, at the then new Belgrade Student Center (SKC) -the
Center would subsequently become an internationally renowned and highly
frequented exhibition site; and the Kuda.org media center, presently
active in Novi Sad, running a programme of lectures and presentations by
artists, media activists, theorists, scientists, and ICT researchers. On
one hand they are an important reference for the present and subsequent
generations, and on the other hand they serve as a paradigm for the
rejection of the cliché of entirely hermetic scenes. By presenting them,
the exhibition attempts to counter a one-dimensional, monopolizing
interpretation with a more complex and emancipated version, which
abandons the predicative and iterative scheme of institutional linear
histories of art.

In the 1990s, artists living and working in Belgrade had to keep up and
rebuild the art scene in a closed society that forced them to deal with
financial and structural exclusion, isolation, limited traveling and
other restrictions.

The exhibition is supported by: KulturKontakt, Die2 Werbedesign, Jat
Airways, Mc Shark

For further information and photographic material please contact:

Carola Platzek
Secession, Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession
Friedrichstraße 12, 1010 Vienna
Tel: +43-1-5875307-21, Fax: +43-1-5875307-34
pr at secession.at

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