1948, Varaždin, Yugoslavia, now Croatia; lives in Zagreb, Croatia
photographs, typed text, ballot papers
Goran Trbuljak, who has been active since the late 1960s in the context of conceptual art and the so-called New Art to Artistic Practices, has turned his attention to the position of art in the contemporary world. On the one hand, the traditional art media, such as painting, have become obsolete; it is impossible to paint a traditional image without being laughable. On the other hand, any kind of practice can become art if it is accepted as such by the audience and art institutions. In his playful and ironic works, Trbuljak researches the possibilities of making a painting at a time when such an act seems “impossible,” as well as considering the mechanisms by which something is accepted as art. This kind of approach implies a certain moral attitude, a wish to remain independent from the demands of the art system by distancing oneself from it and laying bare its principles and mechanisms. His Referendum from 1972 was an attempt to use the most democratic means, public voting, to find out whether he was an artist or not. Since, as he says, an “artist is a person who is given the opportunity to be one by others,” other people should determine his status. Trbuljak stood on the street with ballot papers and a box, inviting passersby to vote.