Branislav Dimitrijević: AGAINST ART

Branislav Dimitrijević: AGAINST ART – Goran Djordjević, 1979-1985
Lecture & discussion

25.2.2015, 5pm

Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava
Hviezdoslavovo nám. 18
Room no 220

AGAINST ART was supposed to be the title of the exhibition by Goran Djordjević held in January 1980 in Students’ Cultural Centre in Belgrade. But, the curator of the gallery decided that the title was too provocative, or undermining for the operation of the gallery, so the artist finally settled to call his project The Exhibition. However, on the back of the invitation card the following statement was printed: Works at this exhibition are not works of art. They are just attitudes to art. Or, to put it more precisely, they are attitudes against art. I think this is the last moment to unequivocally tear down from art its mask of freedom and humanism and to reveal its real face, the face of loyal and humble servant.

This was the time when Goran Djordjević questioned not only the exclusivity of the traditional narrative of art, but also the role played by the “new artistic practice” which encompassed many variants of conceptual art of the 1970s. After the “disappointing” outcome of his initiative for the International Strike of Artists in 1979 (a project that resulted in a collection of postcards with responses from well-known artists of the time) and after a reconsideration of the “iconoclastic” nature of conceptual art (simultaneously with Art and Language), Djordjević began employing another strategy of “fighting against art with the means of art itself”: the copy.
In a series of projects that followed he used hand-painted copies of reproductions of well-known works of art (but also of his own early paintings) for different operations of estrangement, transcontextualisation, demystification and re-theorization.
Since 1985 there have been a number of events that have been associated with Djordjević (International Exhibition of Modern Art in 1986, Salon de Fleurus in New York in the 1990s, Kunsthistorisches Mausoleum opened in Belgrade, and many others) and in which the dense theoretical substance of the copy is revealed in many stories and contexts. The aim of the talk is to shed some light on the works of Goran Djordjević prior to 1985 in order to show the genealogy of one specific and actively “peripherical” operation in the field of art.

Branislav Dimitrijević holds the position of Professor of Art History and Cultural Theory at the School for Art and Design (“Visoka škola likovnih i primenjenih umetnosti”) and lectures part-time at Academia Nova in Belgrade. At the University of Arts in Belgrade, he leads a course on Curatorial practice. Main fields of his theoretical and curatorial interest are visual theory and visual culture, art in public space and relations of common culture to politics and ideology. Branislav Dimitrijević conducted academic researches on visual art, film and popular culture in socialist Yugoslavia and Eastern European countries (1945-1989), as well as on contemporary visual art in the Balkans in the last 20 years. His other interests vary from history and practice of site-specificity in art, history of iconoclasms, conceptualism, 1960s European Cinema and 1990s culture and politics in the Balkans.. In 1999 he co-founded and coordinated (with Branislava Andjelković and Branimir Stojanović) the influential School for History and Theory of Images, an independent interdisciplinary educational project in Belgrade (until 2003). Dimitrijević edited books and large exhibition catalogues, participated at international art projects and have written extensively for journals, newspapers and web-portals on issues of arts and culture.

In frame of the course “Curating Archives. Critical Perspectives on Parallel Cultural Histories” supported by PATTERNS Lectures, initiated by ERSTE Foundation and implemented by WUS Austria. A program co-organized and co-funded by ERSTE Foundation is main partner of tranzit. The course is part of the curriculum at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava.

Postcard written by Lawrence Weiner to Goran Đorđević, responding to his call for an International Strike of Artists in 1979.