‘Art and Revolution’ – The Student Cultural Center in Belgrade as a Place between Affirmation and Critique
The paper presents a close reading of the performance “Drinking of Water” from 1974 by the Yugoslav artist Raša Todosijević as well as insight in the artist’s thoughts about the connection between art and society, which he formulated in the text “Art and Revolution” in 1975. Both performance and text enable to understand what was at stake in the art production of the time at the Student Cultural Center (SKC) in Belgrade, a leading place of performance art in the 1970s, where Todosijević was working. The first part of the paper delivers a short introduction into the cultural and social context, in order to understand Todosijević’s work better, i.e. to explain from what he dissociated and into which genealogies he was inscribing himself on the other hand. The analysis of his performance “Drinking of Water” in the following parts of the essay shows that this was mainly the art of Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys. The broader question for the artist, though, was how art relates to and behaves within society. The paper analyses the different forms and meanings of artistic autonomy, especially in relation to the specific position of the SKC as part and critical counterpart of the cultural (and political) life in Yugoslavia.