Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll

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The Graffiti Monument

Link to article published in Laboratorium Journal online or PDF

Grafitti Monument was conceived during a month long expedition through the eight cities that lie along the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity in former Yugoslavia.

Link to Lexicon of Provisional Futures

On the Europe Lost and Found website I blogged about memory, monumentality, and the future, based on the contributions I solicited along the way from the 300 cultural agents involved. Developing the discourses that emerged while traveling with Marietija Potic and other artists, I brought this collaborative writing experiment from the web to the public to interact and track their changes. An invitation from the curator Mihnea Mircan to contribute to the Venice Biennale followed. The Living Monuments manifesto grew from a conversation with Azra Aksamija and others, and called for a performative conception of monuments.

Link to lecture If you fight the dragon long, the dragon you become: Comments on Monuments in the Balkan at the Witnessing War Conference, CRAASH, University of Cambridge

The Living Monuments manifesto was published by Revolver Press as a free newspaper broadsheet at the 51st Venice Biennale. The text was accompanied with an invitation to respond using the track changes function in Word. A Talmudic growth of interpretations and commentaries in the margins of the ‘Living Monuments + Track Changes’ was blown up and mapped for visitors of the exhibition to also contribute their changes with pencils or stickers. This ‘Graffiti Monument‘ grew as installation in an exhibition curated by Zdenka Badovinac, as a conversation in 12 languages between a network of people in and interested in the future of the Balkan. An analysis of the work will be published in English and Russian in 2013 as part of a series on Ethnographic Conceptualism.

 

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To begin with, the Europe Lost and Found collective that I joined in 2005 responded with a postmodern expedition that recalled the first Zagreb conceptualists in the Gorgona group. From 1959-1966 Gorgona regularly went on urban expeditions around Zagreb, for example to inspect the beginning of spring. The members would then “make reports which constituted the final form of this piece” (Cramer, Stipancic, 3). Their conceptual rendering of spring could be read as a critique of early Modernism for which it was a sacred ornament, particularly on the city’s Austrian fin de siècle architecture (Ver Sacrum, 1898). However, Gorgona’s influence on Europe Lost and Found was the method of collectively investigating a zone as the project itself. It held an open view to what art works would be made as a result, making it akin to the fieldwork discussed by ethnographic conceptualism.
Art historian of Conceptual Art, Benjamin Buchloh, dismisses avant-gardes from beyond the known Western centres as belated and derivative (1990, 2004). Yet the Conceptual Artists from Eastern Europe could be seen to have adapted the movement to their own terms, developing postmodern performances already in the 1960’s, which would become influential to later generations. Monuments like Bruce Lee could also be woven into the absurd, kitsch, postmodern anti-art movements in Slavic literature and art history, yet I will instead take ethnographic conceptualism’s cue and analyse the Graffiti Monument’s articulations as notes from the field. 
The most ambitious interventions during fieldwork that Europe Lost and Found undertook was to set up a mass of 300 artists to join the self-managed Lost Highway Expedition and travel the nine cities along a road Marshall Tito had planned (though construction was never completed) called the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity. In each city, performances, presentations, or tours were staged by locals and by the travellers. The program was self-managed, as was the journey along the now imaginary Highway of Brotherhood and Unity between Ljubljana, Zagreb, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Skopje, Priština, Tirana, Podgorica and Sarajevo, from July 30 to August 24 of 2006. This highway was so eroded that it became an unmade cattle track in parts. The difficulty crossing the now national borders between the cities often reflected the tensions of the recent wars. The group set out to explore the kind of self-management that the Yugoslav regime began to experiment with after it defiantly broke from the Stalinist rule in 1948 (Rusinow, 1978). The self-managed state had produced a dynamic space that the group sought to reengage in this critical moment after the Balkan war had torn the Yugoslavian cities apart.


Members of the Gorgona Group were: Mangelos, 1927-1987; Miljenko Horvat, 1935-; Marijan Jevsovar, 1922-; Julije Knifer, 1924 -; Ivan Kosaric 1921-; Matko Mestrovic 1933-; Radoslav Putar 1929-; Djuro Seder 1927-; Josip Vanista 1924-. Europe Lost and Found was conceived by the artists Marjetica Potrc and Kyong Park in the fall of 2004. The core members of the group are Azra Aksamija, Katherine Carl, Ana Dzokic, Ivan Kucina, Marc Neelen, and Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss.

The report by Stephen Zachs for the New York Times opened with a recap of the interview with the border guard, perplexed by the carloads of international artists passing between Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Zachs, A Pilgrimage Through the Balkans, Looking for Dots to Connect, New York Times August 29, 2006.

 

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