The Heritage of 1989. Case Study: The Second Yugoslav Documents Exhibition
The 1980s through the Prism of Events, Exhibitions, and Discourses – Part 3
26 April – 17 September 2017
Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art, Cankarjeva 15
Curated by: Zdenka Badovinac and Bojana Piškur
9.00 p.m.: Ilija Šoškić, Sewn–up Ficus, 1974 (1989, 2017), action/installation, courtesy of the artist
9.00 p.m.: Azra Akšamija, Digesting Dayton, (2012, 2017), interactive installation
More about Azra Akšamija's installation Palimpsest of ꞌ89.
The Heritage of 1989 / Case Study: The Second Yugoslav Documents presents a re-enactment of the last big art exhibition in Yugoslavia. Titled Yugoslav Documents ’89, it was curated by the artists Jusuf Hadžifejzović and Rade Tadić and realized under the auspices of the ZOI ’84 Olimpijski centar Skenderija in the 8,000-square-meter Skenderija Center in Sarajevo in 1989.
In our case, the term re-enactment in no way implies a reconstruction; on the contrary, we are mainly interested in highlighting what was absent in the 1989 exhibition, particularly in relation to the exhibition as a whole, its overall concept, and not so much to the individual works. As for its artistic concept, the exhibition was notably heterogeneous and represented the post-modern trends that dominated the period, such as the New Painting, Neo-Geo, the New Informel, the New Sculpture devoted to the deconstruction of modernism, the art of personal poetics, art with almost ethnographic ties to local traditions – all of it, for the most part, without any direct reference to current social issues. In addition, there were works that looked back to the avant-garde traditions, or as Ješa Denegri called them, “the other line”. The 1980s heirs of this other line brought to this tradition their own significant innovations, which stemmed from the concrete social and material conditions they were working in, often putting them in a broader context and thus dealing both with the real and reality.
As a form of presentation, re-enactments, to be sure, have a long history, going back to Roman times. In the twentieth century, certainly one of the most famous re-enactments was staged in 1920 for the third anniversary of the October Revolution. Such replayings of historical events have an affirmative role. Compared with other forms of commemorating important anniversaries, they can incorporate spectators in a more dynamic way, allowing them to be actively involved in the commemoration. Artistic re-enactments, on the other hand, most often open up suppressed, traumatic, and ambiguous aspects of the event, attempting to recreate it in a way that also underscores the current interest in alternative readings of history. The re-enactment form, therefore, is also concerned with the future, for in its attempt to cleanse the past it proposes alternative possibilities for social action.
The Heritage of 1989 focuses on the largest of the exhibitions that include the adjective “Yugoslav” in their titles, i.e. exhibitions that contributed to building a common Yugoslav cultural space. It attempts to reconsider the idea of the commons from the vantage point of it being something inherently conflicted that in the time of socialist Yugoslavia, in an atmosphere of multiculturalism and collectivity, nonetheless stimulated the ability of social connectivity and solidarity. We see this idea of the commons as immaterial heritage with a universal dimension, rather than a heritage that belongs exclusively to the nations of former Yugoslavia. The heritage of the commons is reproduced through our historical experience today – at a time of societal fragmentation and deconstruction, degradation of the natural environment, and the crisis of mass migration and refugees – and presented to the general public through art and exhibitions.
The incompleteness of the heritage is the prime focus of our exhibition, which takes as its starting point the proposition that the heritage is not unproblematic or something given once and for all. The repetition of Yugoslav Documents thus cannot be made simply by reconstructing it, but can only be a repetition of the difference between what is present and what is absent, between what could be seen at the Sarajevo exhibition in 1989 and what was not visible or tangible. The heritage of 1989 is thus what flew under the radar of Sarajevo’s Yugoslav Documents but would have nonetheless been unthinkable without it. And so the best way to preserve the heritage of 1989 is to use it – and to use it in the real time of an exhibition. To make this possible, The Heritage of 1989 / A Case Study: The Second Yugoslav Documents Exhibition must not be merely a static exhibition of the works presented in Sarajevo; it must be an event in real time, which develops through various formats. Our exhibition has six such formats, or dispositifs, which try to make the heritage of 1989 available for use today:
1. The exhibited artworks are, for the most part, original works from the Yugoslav Documents ’89 exhibition in Sarajevo. A few works, whether because of their size or because they no longer exist, are presented through documentation. Our exhibition also includes several contemporary works connected with the theme of war and migration, by artists from the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
2. Socio-political commentary is presented by the front pages of the main daily newspapers from the constituent republics of Yugoslavia, exhibited chronologically in a line that runs through all the exhibition rooms and ends with comments by Tomaž Mastnak. While the Sarajevo exhibition dealt mainly with the question of art in the 1980s and its general characteristics, our Ljubljana exhibition adds the socio-political context and links it to today’s regime of neoliberalism and the various crises we are facing, especially the crisis in sociality and the migrant crisis.
3. Azra Akšamija’s art installation Palimpsest of ’89 / Institutions of the Commons explores the role of cultural institutions in shaping the common heritage of Yugoslavia through the lens of Sarajevo’s cultural institutions. Her underlying thesis is that the region’s history has been “written and rewritten” through the work of institutions that have framed and preserved the common heritage
4. Long Durations and Ideas of the Future – a series of interventions in the form of discussions and workshops on the subject of social antagonisms, in particular, the social antagonisms of the post-Yugoslav political space through the prism of the material and conceptual heritage, the continuity of cultural networks, and the potential that the shared Yugoslav experience holds for the future. Open to participants from various parts of former Yugoslavia, the program has been conceived by the Zagreb-based collective BADco.
5. Actions involving refugees both those from the territory of the former Yugoslavia who came to Slovenia mainly from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s, and those who only recently arrived here, mainly from the Middle East (Azra Akšamija’s opening performance Digesting Dayton and weekly workshops of embroidery by women of different generations; migrants as museum attendants and exhibition guides).
6. The archive of The Heritage of 1989 / Case Study: The Second Yugoslav Documents Exhibition, including archival materials from Yugoslav Documents ’89, will be presented at the Collegium Artisticum exhibition space and at the Gallery of Contemporary Art Charlama, in the Skenderija Center in Sarajevo in late 2017.
Artists: Jožef Ač, Jadran Adamović, Tome Adžijevski, Azra Akšamija, Nada Alavanja, Mrdjan Bajić, Jože Barši, Aleksandar Saša Bukvić, Jovan Čekić, Lana Čmajčanin, Danica Dakić, Radomir Damnjan Damnjanović, Vlasta Delimar, Boris Demur, Slobodan Braco Dimitrijević, Vladimir Dodig Trokut, Nuša in Srečo Dragan, Marija Dragojlović, Sandro Đukić, Bojan Gorenec, Zoran Grebenarović, Herman Gvardjančič, Jusuf Hadžifejzović, Zdenko Huzjan, Bora Iljovski, IRWIN, Nina Ivančić, Sanja Iveković, Anto Jerkovič, Željko Jerman, Olga Jevrić, Sanjin Jukić, Dušan Jurić, Anto Kajinić, Narcis Kantardžić, Segej Kapus, Laslo Kerekeš, Željko Kipke, Julije Knifer, Adrian Kovacs, Ivan Kožarić, Tomaž Lavrič, Zmago Lenardič, Branko Lepen, Roman Makše, Markovačič (Marko Kovačič), Milovan DeStil Markovic, Vlado Martek, Dalibor Martinis, Mladen Materić, Slobodan Era Milivojević, Marko Modic, Marjan Molnar, Petre Nikoloski, Edin Numankadić, Dušan Otašević, Neša Paripović, Milija Pavićević, Slobodan Peladić, Goran Petercol, Matjaž Počivavšek, Tadej Pogačar, Marjetica Potrč, Mileta Prodanović, Dubravka Rakoci, Retrovizija, Duba Sambolec, Jože Slak Đoka, Damir Sokić, Mladen Stilinović, Sven Stilinović, Vlado Stijepić, Gabrijel Stupica, Aneta Svetieva, Škart, Ilija Šoškić, Jane Štravs, Jovan Šumkovski, Tugo Šušnik, Radoslav Tadić, Talent (Vladimir Perić), Matej Taufer, Goran Trbuljak, Emir Tulek, Dragomir Ugren, Gergelj Urkom, Branka Uzur, Verbumprogram, V.S.S.D., Xhevdet Xhafa
This exhibition forms part of an extensive project entitled THE EIGHTIES, which constitutes part of the five-year program The Uses of Art – the Legacy of 1848 and 1989, organized by the museum confederation L’Internationale. It is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Culture Programme of the European Union.
Black and white photographs:
1. Group portrait of artists on Yugoslav Documents ’89, Sarajevo, photo: Jane Štravs
2. Yugoslav Documents ’89, Olympic Center Skenderija, Sarajevo, photo: Jane Štravs
3. Yugoslav Documents ’89, installation view: Jadran Adamović, Olympic Center Skenderija, Sarajevo, photo: Jane Štravs
4. Yugoslav Documents ’89, installation view: Adrian Kovacs, Olympic Center Skenderija, Sarajevo, photo: Jane Štravs
5. Yugoslav Documents ’89, installation view: Jusuf Hadžifejzović, Olympic Center Skenderija,Sarajevo, photo: Jane Štravs
6. Yugoslav Documents ’89, installation view: Dubravka Rakoci and Marjetica Potrč, Olympic Center Skenderija, photo: Jane Štravs
Colour photographs: Dejan Habicht, Moderna galerija Archive