forth year: 2001/2002 series of lectures: lectures / conversations with lecturers / lecturers

course for curators of contemporary art: course participants / study excursions / program collaborators / exhibition / course participant's texts


Alenka Gregorič
Nothing New in the West, neither in the East

While people in Belgrade still live from hand to mouth, the people in the Austrian capital are thinking of how to awake their fellow townsfolk as regards the danger of the conservative policies of Jörg Haider.
Vienna, a town of Baroque style palaces, porcelain and creme cakes, is rich with galleries and museums, a great number of which deal with contemporary art. The four day visit to the formerly strong capital of art (today merely one of the centres within the cultural production network) represented a welcomed and interesting experience for all of us who visited it within the frame of the World of Art, course for curators of contemporary art. We visited large museums as well as a number of small galleries, the common points of all being contemporary art and the experience so well known within culture - survival. How much money, how many employees and especially how to survive under the new government and the new regime were typical questions we asked. The image of the contemporary art production was becoming clear, for in the everyday rush from one gallery (or museum) to another we managed to compile a mosaic from our premonitions and that little knowledge we brought with us. Before each trip we received some texts from the organisers and leaders of the course which enabled us to leave for Belgrade and Vienna with a certain amount of information. However, the most valuable experience during our first "Vienna" trip was the round table, which we (the guests) thought of, for it linked to the research theme which was at the time already becoming the main attention of our final course product - the exhibition. Activist operation within the cultural - political streams in Austria has an especially great meaning as regards the political changes in the recent past. Get to Attack is one of the most important resistance movements at this moment and the fact that is most interesting is that at that opportunity people from those organisations stepped into contact for the first time. The discussion brought forth valuable information to us as well as our debaters, however, I can not state the same for our Belgrade visit.
Art and politics was the theme of our visit of this formerly so important capital, which today functions as an "old widow hiding its age beneath a whole pile of make-up". The lectures by theoreticians, artists and members of art groups, as well as guest from Croatia and Slovenia took place every day. The hospitality of the organisers and students, who visit the School of History and Theory of Images (where the lectures took place) did not surprise us for the idea of 'brotherhood and equality' has not been lost. The art scene of the 90's in Serbia, or to be more precise in Belgrade was presented to us through lectures, visits to museums, galleries and art centers. Miloševic's government has had a great influence on the creative field of fine arts, even though I was under the impression that some people are too quick at marking a simple demonstration or throwing eggs onto one of the government buildings as an artistic action (the latter is done by our secondary school graduates every year, and yet nobody declares this as a work of art). However, this should not be generalised to the operations of all artistic groups in the Serbian repressive political regime of the last ten years, out of which I would like to draw special attention to the groups Škart and Led art, the operations of which were presented to us in great detail. In Belgrade we also had a round table on the last day, however, it differed greatly to the Viennese experience. The discussion turned into a war of words which did not bring us (the listeners) any special benefit, maybe (read sincerely) only a great deal of neurosis. An experience like this is not to be neglected, for it is one of the many that a person brings from such travels. Some experience proves to be useful, while other seems to be a complete waste of time - depending on the viewpoint, the choice is always there.