Handeln im Kontext. Politisches Denken in der Gegenwartskunst in Belgrad
The essay dwells on some aspects of contemporary art and theory in Belgrade. It is mainly concerned with artistic and theoretical practices who are based on models of “doing” (more generally then “performing”) and who question their own position in contemporary life in their city. The first case study is the artist collective Umetnik* (Artist*), a collective of two young artists who appeared in 2012 with a couple of performances in public space. Their aim is to create space and visibility for younger artists who are not able to enter the very small cultural circles, which are dominated for years by the same players. Another aspect of their work is to criticize the fact that major cultural institutions (as the Museum for Contemporary Art) have been closed for a long time. The second example is the theoretical position of the collective Prelom (Split) that was editing a same-titled magazine for images and politics. Apart from discursive work the group also engaged in political action against privatizations and in the analysis of transition and its consequences for society. Similar to Prelom that takes a clear Marxist standpoint, the curators of Pančevo biennial 2012 (Nikola Dedić and Aneta Stojnić) try to find trajectories for the future in analysis of history, i.e. anti-nationalist and communist history of Yugoslavia. The fourth case study, the cooperative Treći Beograd, on the other hand operates with the term utopia when working on alternative models for society. These artists are creating a physical and mental space that consists of a building they constructed themselves on Danube bank opposite of the city center as well as of their ephemeral activities, which take place either in this building or in public space. Their work operates right on the border between autonomy and public visibility. The essay ends with a short historical survey of the possible models of artistic agency that finds its correspondence in the presented projects.