Austrian Cultural Forum New York (ACFNY)

Artists: Phil COLLINS, Biljana DJURDJEVIĆ, Uroš DJURIĆ, Vlatka HORVAT, Johanna KANDL, KUNSTHISTORISCHES MAUSOLEUM, Paul Albert LEITNER, Marko LULIĆ, Ahmet ÖĞÜT, Marko PELJHAN, Dan PERJOVSCHI, Darinka POP-MITIĆ, Anri SALA, Walter STEINACHER, Zoran TODOROVIĆ, Raša TODOSIJEVIĆ, Milica TOMIĆ, Stefanos TSIVOPOULOS, Katarina ZDJELAR.

The Austrian Cultural Forum New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade are pleased to present this exhibition of works by 18 contemporary artists from Serbia, former Yugoslavia and Austria. The artists reflect on two decades of drama in the Balkans with a special focus on Serbia.

Speaking out on traumatic events the artists in Serbia – Frequently Asked Questions share a critical stance toward processes of economic and political transition and refute preconceived notions about a decades-old conflict fueled by irreconcilable stereotypes on all sides. The artists expose the culturalization of the Yugoslav conflict: marked neither by sentimentalism nor cynicism, the show presents the sensitivity of the individual artists—some of whom were directly involved but maintained a critical distance—as a powerful guide to a tumultuous and painful chapter in recent European history.

Raša Todosijević responds to the nationalist rhetoric in post-80s Serbian culture and politics in his mixed media series, Gott liebt die Serben (God Loves the Serbs). Drawings by Dan Perjovschi serve as specific political comments on the construction of stereotypes and paranoia in the Balkans and in Europe. The paradoxical issue of “national representation” is reflected in Warmth by Zoran Todorović. The work consists of curious looking blankets with undetermined function made of three tons of human hair collected at hairdressers and military barracks where hair-cutting is a norm of discipline. Phil Collins‘s work, filmed recently in Kosovo, asks a group of participants to elaborate in Serbian the reasons that they no longer speak the language. Stefanos Tsivopoulos‘s two-screen presentation juxtaposes the original testimony of a Serbian soldier involved in atrocities of the Bosnian war with an actor repeating the same story. It is up to viewers to decide which character is real. Milica Tomić‘s video follows the artist, carrying a Kalashnikov rifle as she walks the streets of Belgrade paying homage to the principal locations of the armed rebellion against Nazi occupation in WWII. In his video Naturalmystic, Anri Sala documents a man who uses his vocal cords to imitate the sound of a Tomahawk missile, a common background noise during the NATO bombing campaign over Serbia in 1999.

Marko Peljhan presents a compact version of his installation, Territory, which is based on a long-term research project about the circumstances of the Srebrenica massacre. The exhibition also features a painting by Biljana
Djurdjević
that comments on the relationship of power and violence in the patriarchal social order. Intrigued by the emotional and cultural power that still remains from Tito’s heritage in former Yugoslavia, Slovenia-based Austrian
artist Walter Steinacher‘s painting addresses the general process of selective, post-conflict remembrance. Conversely, a work on paper by Johanna Kandl examines the causes and consequences of capitalist
transformation.

Some of the works deal with more general and universal processes, causing or paralleling violent conflict. Ahmet Öğüt looks at paranoiac, instrumental, and randomly indifferent aspects of surveillance in the context of power struggles. As a foreign artist based in the Netherlands, Katarina Zdjelar situates her own experience of dislocation by investigating systems of communication and learning rather than focusing on the loss perpetuated by this distance. Like Zdjelar, Vlatka Horvat also deals with the aspects of dislocation. In her video This Here and That There, the reorganization of the chairs in a shallow pond is a sad and poetic metaphor for grappling with the loss of geographic roots and social communities. Photographer Paul Albert Leitner takes the perspective of a travelling journeyman and reveals the hardship and dignity of normal street life in the peripheries beyond metropolitan centers. A panoptical but “low-fi” montage of snapshots by Uroš Djurić is a condensed overview of the artist’s social links within and beyond the art world.

Serbia – Frequently Asked Questions also presents two newly commissioned works: a film by Marko Lulić and a mural by Darinka Pop-Mitić. Also on view will be a selection of artifacts from the collection of Kunsthistorisches Mausoleum from Belgrade.

Curators Branislav Dimitrijević & Andreas Stadler
Exhibition Coordination Natascha Boojar & Vesna Milić (MOCA Belgrade)
Exhibition Assistance Anne Marie Butler, Sophie Fitschek, Esther Mlenek, Eva Stockinger, Philipp Virag

Serbia – Frequently Asked Questions is an official EUNIC project (European Union National Institutes for Culture), and enjoys generous support from the Fund for an Open Society–Serbia; Open Society Institute; Ministry of Culture of Serbia; General Consulate of Serbia; Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations; Czech Center New York; Harriman Institute at Columbia University; Romanian Cultural Institute; New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and WaxFactory..

Supporting Institutions of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York: Austrian Airlines, Botstiber Foundation, RZB Finance, The Austrian Wines

Schedule of Serbia – Frequently Asked Questions events

WEDNESDAY, SEP 22, 6 PM – 8 PM
OPENING RECEPTION
Official opening
by Michael Spindelegger, Austrian Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs

WEDNESDAY, SEP 22, 5 PM – 6 PM
ARTIST TALK with Biljana Djurdjević, Uroš Djurić, Johanna Kandl, Marko Lulić, Marko Peljhan, Darinka Pop-Mitić and the curators Branislav Dimitrijević & Andreas Stadler
R.S.V.P at www.acfny.org

TUESDAY, OCT 12, 6:30 PM
STAGED READING presented by the Romanian Cultural Institute

The Locusts, by Serbian writer Biljiana Srbljanovic
The reading will be followed by a conversation with the author.
Venue: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, CUNY
R.S.V.P at www.icrny.org

WEDNESDAY, OCT 13 – 17
FILM SERIES
Venue: Czech Center

R.S.V.P at www.czechcenter.com

MONDAY, OCT 18, 6:30 PM
READING presented by WaxFactory
4boys.org by Simona Semenic
Venue: ACFNY
R.S.V.P at www.acfny.org

FRIDAY, OCT 22, 8 PM
CONCERT
Bassiona Amorosa and Jasna Popovic
Venue: Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
R.S.V.P at www.carnegiehall.com

FRIDAY, NOV 5
ACADEMIC CONFERENCE
“Constructing the Balkans, De-Constructing Ourselves”
Venue: Harriman Institute of Columbia University
R.S.V.P at www.harrimaninstitute.org

MONDAY, JAN 10, 2011, 5:30 PM
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
Serbia@Europe
Venue: Open Society Institute
R.S.V.P at www.soros.org

Media Contact: Kerstin Schuetz-Mueller, ksm@acfny.org, +1 212 319 5300 ext 203

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*Image above:
Courtesy of the artist.