Artists and groups include Marina Abramović, Zemira Alajbegović (Gledališče FV), Lutz Becker, August Černigoj, Goran Djordjević, Vera Fischer, Karpo Godina, Tomislav Gotovac, Sanja Iveković, Katalin Ladik, Lojze Logar, Dušan Makavejev, Goranka Matić, Slavko Matković, NSK/New Collectivism, OHO, Dušan Otasević, Zoran Popović, Bogdanka Poznanović, Mladen Stilinović, Sven Stilinović, Lazar Stojanović, Raša Todosijević, Milica Tomić, Goran Trbuljak, Želimir Žilnik.
Bands featured in the exhibition include VIS Idoli, Disciplina Kičme, Šarlo Akrobata, Oliver Mandić, Laboratorija Zvuka, Tožibabe, Laibach, Borghesia, Ekatarina Velika.
Curated by Lina Džuverović.
Monuments Should Not Be Trusted brings together over 30 leading artists and groups from the “golden years” of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia—the period between the early 1960s and the mid–1980s. The exhibition draws on new and innovative research into this period and features many of its most significant artists, groups and filmmakers.
Over 100 artworks and artefacts illuminate the key contradictions of this single party state—built after WWII on socialist principles, yet immersed in “utopian consumerism.” This is the first time in the UK that the art of this period, which has attracted increasing attention, has been shown in the context of the social, economic and political conditions that gave rise to it.
The exhibition begins with the rise of consumerism, midway through President Josip Broz Tito’s 37-year presidency, and ends a few years after his death in 1980. As well as artists’ works in moving image, collage, photography, sculpture and painting, the exhibition encompasses music, TV clips and artefacts from the Museum of Yugoslav History, such as gifts made by workers for President Tito’s birthday and ceremonial relay batons. Four key themes explore the complexities of Yugoslav art and culture:
“Public Space and the Presence of Tito” reflects upon the Yugoslav people’s complex emotional relationship to their president, when censorship “from above” was replaced by censorship “from within.” Including photographic installations by Sanja Iveković, Sven Stilinović’s series of subversive flag works, and the infamous film Plastic Jesus by Lazar Stojanović, best known as the work that led to the demise of Black Wave film, resulting in Stojanović’s arrest.
“Socialism and Class Difference” looks at both labour and the role of the artist during this period. By the late 1970s, Yugoslavia was suffering high unemployment that threatened its socialist ideals. Student protests and underlying ethnic tensions are also explored. Short documentary films by Želimir Žilnik point to these realities, whilst works by Mladen Stilinović address the relationship between art, language and the economy. Lutz Becker’s film Kino Beleške focuses on a group of artists in Belgrade’s Student Cultural Centre, which was also home to Marina Abramović’s first performance Rhythm 5, included here in the form of documentation.
“Comradess Superwoman” addresses the complex issues faced by women in Yugoslavia, where new equal rights legislation proclaiming that “the women’s question had been solved” coexisted with, and masked, a lingering of traditional values in the private sphere. The proliferation of magazines, film and advertising also introduced a new role for women: the sex symbol. This section includes seminal photomontage works by Sanja Iveković and performance documentation and collages by Katalin Ladik, alongside works by Marko Pogačnik (OHO) and Tomislav Gotovac.
“Utopian Consumerism and Subcultures” showcases the explosion of punk and psychedelia, as expressed in music, video, screen-printing and collage that appropriated popular culture, often humorously. These eclectic influences and media experiments culminated in the emergence of Yugoslavia’s New Wave, the country’s most definitive form of pop music, represented here in ’80s music videos and TV programmes. Originally banned for its slogan “swallow LSD,” Karpo Godina’s psychedelic film The Gratinated Brain of Pupilija Ferkeverk embraces hippy and drug culture, whilst OHO’s printed Rolling Stones and Beatles matchbox works reference pop culture and the fickle nature of consumerism.
Monuments Should Not Be Trusted is the largest ever exhibition of Yugoslav art in the UK. Its title is taken from a work by the Yugoslav filmmaker Dušan Makavejev.
Milica Tomić will perform The Nottingham Statement on Friday, January 15.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a conference on January 16. Speakers include David Crowley, Branislav Dimitrijević, Lina Džuverović, Sanja Iveković, Antonia Majaca, Zoran Pantelić, Zoran Popović and Milica Tomić.