THE ART AT THE END OF THE CENTURY
PRODUCER & PUBLISHER
PRODUCER AND EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Table of contents
HETEROTOPOGRAPHY (as an unplanned manifest)
CREATIVE SOUND : THE EIGHTH ART
A REVIVAL OF ART, REVIVAL OF CRITICISM
Art and Criticism After 1980
BELGRADE ART IN THE NINETIES
A Personal View
SKETCHES FOR THE BELGRADE VISUAL ARTS SCENE OF THE NINETIES
NEW SENSIBILITIES OF THE MATERIAL-NEW IMAGE SCULPTURE
IN INTERSPACE BETWEEN "HIGH" AND "UNDERGROUND" ART
Some Examples from the Art of Vojvodina
CURRENT TRENDS IN GRAPHIC ART
An Experiment in Multiplication with Integrated Graphic Plate
PHOTOGRAPHY OF THE NINETIES
All the disputes that have been going on for years about second Yugoslavia, the European country in the Balkans that we have lost, about second Serbia and/or second Belgrade, mostly end with statements on a disrupted system of values, on the series of crises and troubles that have befallen us. We are not the only ones who believe that the only way out is a conscious and sober confrontation with the reality of the moment, with no pathetic views into the known past or utopian projections of an unknown future. Departing from the notorious standpoint that the present is tragically transparent and therefore we necessarily live in it with full awareness and no idealistic phantasms, but with a (slight) revolt and resistance, we have tried to record, in our own statements, our responsibility towards the world we work in – the world of visual culture and visual art. They represent our testimonies on a period when a century ends, when a millennium ends and when a number of ideologies have met their end, in the name of creation, the creation of a new (and not only) artistic position within different, internal and external geo-political, borders we have had to accept.
The testimonies of art historians and art critics, primarily younger, on the art that has marked our time in the preceding two decades, and on the current reading of the visual in the new theory, could generally be placed within the broad framework of multiple layers and multiple meanings Derrida also applies when he accuses modernity of programming totalitarianism. Because of its more democratic, non-linear character, particularly in the time that has usurped all logic of life and death, art cannot be followed along simple and one-dimensional paths. Therefore, we believe it wiser and more appropriate to observe art from more than one perspective, from a number of different viewpoints and different interests. The texts contained in this publication offer personal experiences of their authors directly engaged in active criticism. This kind of testimony should not be understood as an exclusive or only interpretation of art and the artistic scene of our days, nor as a canon to be followed in reading and accepting the current artistic practice in its broadest aspect. However, the differences in views can take over the function of recognizing and (de)noting, as defined by Gerard Genette, those strategies through which the most vital generations of art historians leave imprints of their standpoints and struggles particularly in the turbulent times susceptible to all kinds of transformation. By this consistent transference of aesthetic experience our profession protects itself as well as the identity of what is frequently called, in most general terms, genius loci, with an aesthetic function. Fortunately, we understand thereby that artistic creation in our country has provided sufficient justification for criticism and art history to follow it faithfully, to make relevant comments on what is happening in studios and galleries, without structuralistic descriptions, but in creative dialogues with artists and their works. In order to define the artistic climate of their time, art criticism and art history should also be instigators of certain ideas and promoters of appropriate activities.
Sometimes it seems that our professional indulgence in Art neglects the Reality that so persistently endeavours to standardize chaos and legalize contradictions that defy a normal search for differences. It is assumed that art itself accepts the peculiarities of its time, to the same extent it transfers its experiences to time. Therefore it is chaotically individualized, contradictory, decomposed, antagonistic towards itself and others but also nurtured by others. However, in this illusive auto-destruction and in the absence of a vertical and straight upward movement, art frequently turns to the past and intersects with tradition, thus closing the circles the avant-garde so spectacularly opened at the beginning of this century. Traditionally the modern spirit of art does not look for the pathetic deposits of religion, it carries no national emblems and does not make special allowances for the taste of the masses, has no vanity or commercial aspirations. Like the stiff staff that measures the sections of time, as a colleague from Zagreb once said, tradition is oppresive if turned into cult and the only criterion of contemporaneity; therefore it is quite logical that art searches the past with just a glance. The rest of its vision is directed towards new things, its own time and owing to that, notwithstanding obstructions, it can preserve its autochthonous nature. This poetics will distinguish our art in time and space, and although numerous authors and works will have been lost in the pace of the time, we believe that this book will remain a useful reminder of our age. In that sense it will be quite clear that our thesis concerns the universal property of the language of art, disregarding territorial limitations, local conditions, great historical turns, real troubles and anxieties. The artistic scene has been vital, often more vital than the broader socio-cultural and economic context, both when it made critical references to life and when it consciously tried to neglect it, convinced, rightly and cynically, that the discourse of art in art is always the most powerful engagement and that an enforced indifference toward market psychology represents its great advantage. It thus acquires a utopian value, and as Terry Eagleton says becomes gloriously aimless, infinitely futile, but not helpless. The texts gathered here testify of that.
In setting the norms of their address to the public, the authors of the texts are offering the codes of our current criticism and use interactive premises to indicate their own aesthetics of perception that interprets the visual culture as a phenomenon of time and mental processes. In that sense the autonomous models of their critical thinking complement each other and reconcile in a new, provocative, intelligent and stimulative way.
This publication, called Art at the End of the Century, is in fact an issue of a series of lectures (under the same title) held in the Kolarac Hall in Belgrade in the last months of 1994 and at the beginning of 1995. Almost all of the presenters have adapted their texts to suit the purpose of this collection. In the meantime, in order to complete the general topic, contributions by younger art historians have been added.
The theme of current new creativity is covered by introductory texts written by Sreten Ugricic (on the present-day phenomena seen through a theoretical explication of postmodernism) and Cedomir Vasic (on the art of real virtuality and the electronic media as almost dominant elements of life and creative processes). Branislav Dimitrijevic dedicates his essay to heterotopography, proposing that temporal metaphors be replaced by spatial ones, that the spirit of time (Zeitgeist) be replaced by the spirit of place (genius loci). On aspects, impacts and connections in modern art there is a treatise of Nikola Suica who concludes that the end of the century has inspired authors toward a structural and symbolical modeling of the paradox; Branko Lazic writes about the art positioned between interest and monasticism.
From a more direct observation of the local visual scene, Lidija Merenik gives a selective chronology of the events in Yugoslav visual arts from 1979 to 1989. She believes that in this last period of the unified Yugoslav cultural space new image painting reached the highest points of its emancipated European urban language. On a parallel level, Jovan Despotovic treats the importance of art criticism in the eighties, since it presented the dilemma of postmodernism as the last episode of modernism, i.e. the beginning of a changed, different understanding of art.
The largest part of the book is devoted to the art of the nineties. Darka Radosavljevic-Vasiljevic sketches the Belgrade scene of that period indicating fresh ideas, young artists, important events and new exhibition spaces. Jasmina Cubrilo gives her own view of the same period, and Mileta Prodanovic talks about the interspace between high art and underground stating that real creation always lives in a ghetto. He also mentions the continuity of the so called second line in Yugoslav art.
Gordana Stanisic writes about the new sensibility of the materials used in new image sculpture, comparing the experiences of foreign and Yugoslav artists. Graphic art and its experiments in multiplication is covered by Ljiljana Cinkul, while photography as an art in itself is the topic treated by Estela Bjelica.
The visual scene in Vojvodina is treated by Sava Stepanov (a revival of minimalism) and Svetlana Mladenov (new sculpture).
Jesa Denegri writes about the strategies of the nineties through his own, active art critic's prism, and Branislava Andjelkovic gives an authentic, new reading of the works of Katarina Ivanovic. Sava Ristovic writes about creative sound, the eight art, and discusses numerous but inadequately exploited possibilities of radiophonic expression.
The publishers offer their warmest thanks to all the authors, particularly for their patient waiting for the publication. The delay was caused by our firm belief that other colleagues would keep their promises and complete the texts which would be a complement to the ones in front of you now.
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