An insight into experimental and conceptual video and film production in the former Yugoslavia from the mid 1960s to the 1980s from the collection Arteast 2000+ of Moderna Galerija, the principal Slovenian institution of contemporary art.
Martina Vovk, PhD is a curator in Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana (Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana). The field of her research is modern and contemporary art in broader social and political context. She teaches social history of art at Academy of Visual Arts in Ljubljana.
Moderna galerija was founded in 1948 as a museum of modern art. Until the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, Moderna galerija systematically focused on collecting works by Slovenian artists. With Slovenia`s independence in 1991, Moderna galerija became the principal national institution of modern and contemporary art and an increasingly active link between the local and the international, in particular Central and Eastern European, contexts. One of the results of this orientation is the international collection Arteast 2000+, begun in 2000. The international collection Arteast 2000+ is based on dialogue between works by key artists from the East and the West, and presents a series of important artists from Eastern Europe who had been unknown or overlooked for a long time. Moderna galerija does not regard its collections as rigidly separated fields; it rather links and combines them in dynamic ways.
A selection of videos and films from the collection, prepared by Zdenka Badovinac and Andreja Hribernik, represents an insight into experimental and conceptual video and film production in the former Yugoslavia from the mid—1960s to the 1980s. The selected videos deal with the idea of the “new” both in form and concept.
Tomislav Gotovac`s films can be described as avant—garde, structuralist or experimental; moving away from narration they are often mosaics of references, symbols and repetitive sequences. The film Circle is based on a historical reference to avant—garde film; it is dedicated to the Soviet director Sergei Yutkevich and forms part of a trilogy: Straight Line (Stevens—Duke), Circle(Yutkevich—Count), Blue Rider (Godard—Art); the entire trilogy is dedicated to the pioneers of avant—garde film.
The OHO Movement and later the OHO Group represent an important new approach in art that tried to redefine the position of the artwork and the artist. The film Mt. Triglav is a recording of a group action performed in one of the main squares in Ljubljana. The members of the group enacted live sculpture. Mt. Triglav is the highest peak in Slovenia and a national symbol, and its name means “three heads”. The OHO films explored the typical possibilities in and the nature of the filmmaking medium as such. Their films were no longer transparent, they no longer »stood in for« the eye, but in themselves actually became things.
In a series of performances under the title Was ist Kunst? (between 1976 and 1981 in various cities, settings and situations) Raša Todosijević incessantly repeated the above mentioned question to a feminine model in an authoritarian tone of voice, parodying the repressive manner of the police interrogation, until his voice failed him. The literal meaning of the question was confronted with the absence of its impact in performance (there is no answer) by way of repetition, indefinite recurrence of the same question, which in Todosijević’s despotic speech stood for a (elocutionary) verbal act related to the question which, however, exceeded its limits.
Between 1973 and 1992, artists produced several video works that connect research to media images with a reflection of social and political issues. Video Chanoyu by Dalibor Martinis and Sanja Iveković features two protagonists, a woman and a man, and deals with the tensions and conflicts which arise from male-female relations. The basic opposition between man and woman is reflected in other oppositions, such as yin-yang (as suggested by the tea ritual) or East—West (the Eastern spiritual experience of tea drinking turns into a Western style consumption of tea prepared with tea bags). In Chanoyu, the artists use the contrast between the “narrative”, which speaks about the tense relationship of the two protagonists, and the aestheticized visual form, which uses a suggestive combination of the voice and slow—motion recording. Thus they create a meditation on the situation where one is defined by a system of oppositions and differences and thus constantly in need of overcoming tensions and conflicts.