A Failed Transition?

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A Failed Transition?

Culture’s Tragic Turn and the Discourse of the Post-communist Transition:

The Echo of the Alternative Movement of the Eighties in Slovenia’s 2020 Anti-government Movement

Nika Cimperšek Bukinac

Master’s in Theatre Studies (Arts and Culture) University of Amsterdam

July 2021

Supervisor: Sruti Bala Second reader: Laurens de Vos

This work was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.




1.1. The Case of the 2020 Anti-Government Movement ... 2

1.2. The Final Victory of Capitalism and Liberal Democracy ... 4

1.3. Echo of the Alternative... 7

1.4. Terminology ... 11


2.1. Context of the Significance of Culture and the Arts for Slovenia ... 14

2.2. Before the Eighties ... 16

2.3. Description and Analysis of the Alternative Movement ... 24

2.3.1. Establishing Alternative Spaces and Practices ... 24

2.3.2. Provocation and Shock Effects ... 27

2.3.3. Overidentification ... 30

2.3.4. Evoking the Past ... 32

2.3.5. Appropriation and Infiltration ... 34

2.3.6. Focus on the Institution ... 35

2.4. Culture and Politics ... 37

3.JANEZ JANŠA ... 41

3.1. The Relevance of Janša ... 41

3.2. Janšism ... 42


4.1. The Emergence of the Movement ... 50

4.2. Description and Analysis of the Anti-government Movement... 53

4.2.1. Legal Loopholing and Asserting the Right to Protest ... 53

4.2.2. Refusing to Move ... 57

4.2.3. Shaming ... 60

4.2.4. Ridicule ... 62

4.2.5. Provocation and Shock ... 63

4.2.6. Infiltrating and Appropriating Official Celebrations ... 66

4.2.7. Death and Sombreness ... 68

4.2.8. Evoking the Past ... 70

4.3. Culture and Politics ... 72


5.1. The Legacy of the Eighties in 2020 ... 74

5.2. The Implications of the Echo ... 76

5.2.1. Revitalisation of the Public ... 76

5.2.2. Feelings of Betrayal ... 77

5.2.3. The Perception of the Alternative ... 79

5.3. The Legacy of the Alternative and the Discourse of the Post-communist Transition ... 82

5.3.1. Culture in Transition ... 82

5.3.2. A Public in Transition ... 84

5.4. Transition and the Neoliberal Takeover ... 85




1. Tracing the Eighties in Slovenia’s 2020 Anti-Government Movement

1.1. The Case of the 2020 Anti-Government Movement

Slovenia's capital city Ljubljana saw the emergence of a series of small protest actions in March of 2020. These protests developed into weekly Friday protests which were

organised over 26 weeks between 24 April and 16 October, and gathered crowds of up to 7000 people. While the series of Friday protests ended in October 2020 due to the worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic, the movement continues to organise more sporadic protest actions in 2021. The protests and the wider anti-government movement are most active and visible in the capital city; however, the movement is nation-wide as protests and other effects of the movement can also be seen in cities and larger towns throughout the country.

The anti-government movement emerged in response to the confirmation of Janez Janša's third government, and the newly introduced measures in response to the pandemic.

The disproportional and restrictive measures were described by many as a clear attempt to take advantage of the situation for political purposes, and were later ruled as unconstitutional by Slovenia’s Constitutional Court. At the same time, the government, the ruling parties and their mouthpieces were openly discrediting and attacking culture, civil society, and the press, particularly those organisations and individuals who criticised the government or participated in the protest movement. Since alternative culture, the press, and civil society were at the core of the Alternative (Alternativa), the name used to describe the alternative movement that took place in Yugoslav Slovenia in the eighties and made a significant contribution to the

democratisation of Slovenia, pundits and the wider public view an attack on any one of these as an open attack on plurality, alternative ways of living, and on democracy itself. The restrictive measures coupled with these attacks on culture, civil society and the press were


thus seen by many as an attempt to discredit, revaluate, and weaken the public, secure power, and prevent protests.

Regardless, people found ways to express disagreement. This was done in small, inventive ways, and often initiated by cultural workers. Artists and cultural workers played an important and visible role in the weekly protests and created separate actions that highlighted the government’s mistreatment of the cultural sector and its workers. Culture thus formed what I identify as one of the three main actors of the protest movement: culture, the press, and civil society. Interestingly, these three actors were also at the core of the Alternative movement. In the eighties and nineties, the Alternative played a significant role in

constructing the public, in mobilising the public, and in the country’s subsequent transitions:

from socialist to capitalist, from authoritarian to democratic, from “East” to “West”. As such, links can be drawn between the composition and democratic goals of the anti-government and those of the Alternative movement. Furthermore, the movements are linked through individuals who were prominent figures both then and now. Some of these individuals have gone through a stark transformation in terms of their stance on the respective movements, such as the current prime minister Janša, who owes both his political career and freedom to the Alternative movement. Moreover, the Alternative cast a shadow over the anti-government movement through the strategies, approaches, tactics, and language of the protest movement.

Due to these links, the movements were often compared and contrasted by public figures, journalists, as well as by groups and individuals participating in the anti-government movement. I would argue that for many of us who followed the events closely and attended the protests in the spring of 2020, the main question on our minds was: how was it possible that cultural workers, journalists, and civil society institutions were being attacked in light of their role in our country’s democratisation and independence? How could it be that those attacks were coming from people who were once at the centre of the Alternative movement?


The noticeable disparity between the vision of the Alternative movement for a democratic and independent Slovenia, and the reality some decades later seemed to indicate that the country had regressed, and that its transition to democracy, modernity, and the West had failed.

At this point, it is important that I disclose my positionality. I approach these

questions from the perspective of a Slovenian born in 1997, who did not experience life in the later years of Yugoslavia, nor the tragic and violent dissolution of the country. My

perspective is informed by my family’s nostalgia for times that felt happier, fairer, and in some ways, more abundant. It is also informed by their memories of hyperinflation, shortage of food supplies, of joining the protests at Roška street in 1988, serving in our war of

independence, and the joy they felt when we joined the EU and NATO. It is informed by my interest to better understand my position in the world as a Slovene, in light of the events of the past few years, and my own experience and internalisation of political inferiority. My interest in this subject also stems from my wish to take action.

1.2. The Final Victory of Capitalism and Liberal Democracy

The year 1989 is often described as a pivotal year in recent history. The year of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the two-bloc division of the world symbolises the beginning of drastic global changes. It marks what historian Francis Fukuyama famously cited the “end of history”, the narrative that declares 1989 as the year of the final victory of capitalism and liberal democracy. These changes and shifts have had a global, profound, and transformative impact on economy, politics, and therefore the public and all practices

relevant to the public sphere. Since 1991, Slovenia has transitioned from a republic within a non-aligned socialist federation, to an independent and capitalist liberal democratic member


of the European Union and NATO. During this transition, the country underwent the

processes of Europeanisation, the restructuring of the state, and the introduction of neoliberal politics, which brought along numerous political, social, and cultural changes.1

For countries that transitioned from communism or socialism to capitalism at that time, the “end of history” narrative manifests in the narrative of the post-communist

transition. The concept of the post-communist transition or condition belongs to a particular discourse or a narrative, where the events of 1989 are interpreted as the downfall of

communism and totalitarianism, and the victory of capitalism and liberal democracy.

Croatian philosopher Boris Buden, one of the foremost theorists of this discourse, describes that according to this narrative, the societies in transition do not enter directly into the

Western world, but must go through a process of transition to this final condition, which also poses the universal norm of historical development.2 This makes the process of transition also a process of “normalisation”.3 In this way, Slovenia’s transition is understood as a political process of ‘catching up, socially, culturally, economically, with the so-called developed democracies’.4

Therefore, as the country moved from socialism to capitalism, and from authoritarianism to democracy, it also moved from the “East” to the “West”, and from backwardness to modernity. Within the discourse of the post-communist or post-socialist transition, Slovenia’s citizens are ‘perceived as innocent political children, ideal subjects

1 Kornelia Ehrlich, “Conflicting Visions of Urban Regeneration in a New Political and Economic Order: The Example of the Former Bicycle Factory ROG in Ljubljana, Slovenia,” Anthropological Journal of European Cultures 21, no. 2 (2012): 70, https://doi.org/10.3167/ajec.2012.210208.

2 Boris Buden, “The Post-Yugoslavian Condition of Institutional Critique: An Introduction On Critique as Countercultural Translation,” Transversal, 2007, 1, https://transversal.at/transversal/0208/buden/en?hl=buden.

3 Ibid.

4 Bojana Kunst, “Performance, Institutions and Gatherings: Between Democratic and Technocratic European Cultural Space,” in Performance - Public - Politics: Examining European Representative Democracy, ed. Ana


without history who should be moulded for a renewed democratic beginning’, meaning that as Slovenia experienced the transition into a democratic and capitalist state, its citizens were also deprived of their own historical and political past.5

This historical and political context is important context for the case of Slovenia’s anti-government movement and its links to the Alternative, because as Slovenia continues to experience the consequences of neoliberalism, it is also affected by the consequences of the discourse of the post-socialist transition. Attention to this discourse shows that Slovenia’s particular position as a country in transition undoubtedly affects the nation’s relationship with its own political past as well as its future. In light of the common perception that the events of 2020 indicate a regression and deviation from the nation’s transition, I posit that it is

important to consider the anti-government movement within the context of the discourse of the post-communist transition.

I argue that the anti-government movement that emerged in 2020 is particularly interesting when considered in relation to the Alternative movement of the eighties. As such, my questions revolve around the shadow that the Alternative movement casts over the 2020 anti-government movement, particularly as it pertains to the involvement of culture, cultural workers and artists. I will investigate what the subtle and sometimes explicit referencing of the eighties indicates about the shifts and transformations Slovenia has gone through over the last few decades, address the shifting relationship between artistic and political practice, and what these changes mean for the public role of culture and for the public sphere itself. Why did the protest movement repeatedly make references to the eighties, what did it borrow from the Alternative movement, and what are the implications of this interlinking of cultural memories? Slovenian philosopher Bojana Kunst writes that due to their public aspect and the

5 Ibid.


ways they enable free assemblies of people, performance practices offer an interesting opportunity to study and observe the symptoms of the disintegration of the notion of the public. 6 I would add that this applies to artistic practice in general as well as to social and cultural movements, and that both provide an interesting entrance point and opportunity to consider the impact of global shifts and processes.

By looking at these two moments of Slovenia’s history, I wish to investigate issues related to transition, geotemporality, and the discourse of the post-communist transition. I will problematise the discourse of the post-communist transition, and the frequent remarks made by protesters, participating organisations and public figures, who interpret this tension between art and politics in Slovenia as an indication that the country has digressed, moved away from “Europe” and “democracy”. I agree with Kunst’s assessment that the

developments in Slovenia’s cultural sector over the past 30 years, namely the attacks on independent art institutions, alternative culture, and cultural workers extend beyond a conflict between ‘conservatives and progressives, between institutionalised frames of culture and its nongovernmental part’, but are in fact a part of a hegemonic fight, ‘a fight between different cultural articulations and the imaginations of how it is possible to live together’.7

1.3. Echo of the Alternative

Both moments in Slovenia’s history can be understood as instances or culminations of conflicts over how to exist and coexist, over our past and our future. I would add that what the historical moments of the Alternative movement and the 2020 movement share is a rethinking of Slovenia’s position in relation to the spectrums of West and East, modernity

6 Ibid.


and backwardness, capitalism and socialism, democracy and authoritarianism. At the same time, it appears that the possibilities are limited to these spectrums, and that the potential for alternative social and political configurations and alternative modes of existence have been eradicated by the neoliberal hegemony and the discourse of the post-communist transition.

Therefore, I also intend to challenge this linear understanding of history and social progress, and subvert the idea of liberal democracy and capitalism as the natural progression of this history. In relation to this, my questions are: how do we see a legacy of the eighties in 2020?

How does this legacy operate in relation to the discourse of the post-communist transition?

What does it indicate about Slovenia’s transition, about the role and position of art and culture in society and politics, and the state of the independent and democratic Republic of Slovenia?

These questions address the relationship between art and politics, between artistic and political practice. My understanding of this relationship is informed by Gabriel Rockhill’s Radical History & The Politics of Art (2014), where he critiques the assumption that there is such a thing as the separate entities of “art” or “politics”, or a definitive and definable relationship between them.8 Accordingly, I do not approach the case of the echo of the Alternative in the anti-government movement as a case study from which to address a definable link between two distinct practices. Instead, I understand artistic, cultural, and political practice as sites of social relations. In this way, I view this case as an opportunity to study the social dimensions of these practices in two moments in time, examine the links between the two historical moments, and what these may indicate.

To examine the implications of the echo of the Alternative in the 2020 anti- government movement, I will consider both movements in light of Chantal Mouffe’s

8 Gabriel Rockhill, Radical History & the Politics of Art, New Directions in Critical Theory (New York:

Columbia University Press, 2014), 1, https://doi.org/10.7312/rock15200.


conceptualisation of the adversarial model of politics. For Mouffe, the adversarial model of politics is based on a perspective thus ‘recognizes that society is always politically instituted and never forgets that the terrain in which hegemonic interventions take place is always the outcome of previous hegemonic practices and that it is never a neutral one’. 9 In this way, every order is political and based on some form of exclusion, and every hegemonic order ‘is susceptible of being challenged by counter-hegemonic practices’.10 Mouffe’s conception of the agonistic struggle ‘acknowledges the contingent character of the hegemonic politico- economic articulations which determine the specific configuration of a society at a given moment’. 11 According to Mouffe, it is not consensus, but antagonism which is necessary for a vibrant democracy.

Mouffe's approach is particularly relevant in light of my focus on the discourse of the post-communist transition, as Mouffe scrutinizes ‘the dominant discourse which announces the “end of the adversarial model of politics” and the need to go beyond left and right towards a consensual politics at the centre’.12 In this way, Mouffe’s conceptualisation of an agonistic model of democratic politics complements my focus on the impact of a discourse which operates within a narrative of the end of history and the start of a post-political era.13 The two theoretical perspectives are linked by Bojana Kunst as she writes that the

contemporary rise of nationalistic populism based on the infantilisation of Eastern European

9 Chantal Mouffe, “Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces,” Art & Research 1, no. 2 (2007): 3, http://www.artandresearch.org.uk/v1n2/mouffe.html.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Chantal Mouffe, “Which Public Sphere for a Democratic Society?,” Theoria (Pietermaritzburg) 49, no. 99 (2002): 55, https://doi.org/10.3167/004058102782485448.

13 Jodi Dean, “After Post-Politics: Occupation and the Return of Communism,” in The Post-Political and Its Discontents, ed. Japhy Wilson and Erik Swyngedouw (Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 261,



societies, and the narrative of awakening them from their political infancy are far away from

‘the agonistic dimension of democracy and the demand for equality and difference that characterised this process at the beginning of the nineties’.14

I argue that a consideration of the impact of the discourse of the post-communist transition in light of the work of Mouffe, as well as of philosopher Nancy Fraser, and political theorist Jodi Dean, is particularly fruitful as their scrutiny of the notion of depoliticization remedies what I identify to be a common pitfall of work on Slovenia's transition. I have found that the crisis of Slovenia's public sphere is often attributed to depoliticization. I agree with Dean's argument that this term is inadequate and misleading, as it fails to recognize the

‘political character of these attacks on what remained of the achievements of over a century of workers’ struggle’ and fails to recognise these politicised sites as politicised sites.15

Instead, she argues that the issues lie in ‘the inability of democratic politics to produce viable solutions to social and economic problems’, and the Left’s failure to produce an alternative.16 In this way, I posit that the implications of the echo of the Alternative in the anti-government movement in light of the discourse of the post-communist condition become more

meaningful when we understand the latter movement to be a response to a politically instituted order.

The second and fourth chapters describe the Alternative movement and the anti- government movement, respectively. The chapters briefly address the wider contexts in which both movements emerged, and then focus on the movements themselves. Both are described and analysed according to their strategies and tactics, which are clustered under

14 Kunst, “Performance, Institutions and Gatherings: Between Democratic and Technocratic European Cultural Space,” 59.

15 Dean, “After Post-Politics: Occupation and the Return of Communism,” 263.

16 Ibid., 262.


themes that link the two movements, such as the establishment of parallel spaces, shock tactics, and evoking the past, for example. I consider the methods and tactics of the two movements and the extent to which they may be seen as ‘counter-hegemonic interventions whose objective is to occupy the public space in order to disrupt’.17 In the fourth chapter, the tactics of the anti-government movement are considered in light of the echo of the


The third chapter serves as an interlude between the two movements and moments in history, and outlines Slovenia’s transition. The transition is described through the figure of Janez Janša, and transformations of Janšism, the politics of Janša and his allies, as I argue that the transformation of Janšism is emblematic of the country’s transition and of the impact of the discourse of the post-communist transition. The fifth chapter then considers the links between the two movements and what they may suggest about Slovenia’s transition.

1.4. Terminology

At this point, it is important to define and clarify some terms. The Alternative

movement emerged in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). SFRY was and still is, commonly referred to as a communist country, especially in the so-called “West”.

However, as philosopher Aleš Erjavec describes, while the term “communist” was mainly ascribed to the political parties, the actual ‘political system was called “actually (or “really”) existing socialism” (Realsozialismus)’.18 As such, Erjavec employs the terms “socialist”,

“post socialist” and “late socialist” when describing the political system of SFRY, as will I.

17 Mouffe, “Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces,” 5.

18 Aleš Erjavec, “Introduction,” in Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition Politicized Art Under Late Socialism, ed. Aleš Erjavec and Boris Grois (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 11.


Next, the terms that describe alternative culture in the eighties are often inconsistent and include “the alternative”, “alternative scene”, “alternative culture”. 19 Katja Praznik describes that while “alternative culture” refers to ‘cultural and subcultural practices that emerged outside of state cultural institutions, often due to the support of youth and student organisations’, the wider term “Alternative” or “Alternative Movement” designates ‘a variety of social movements, for example feminist, peace, LGBTQ, environmental movements, however it also included intellectual production of left-leaning, Lacanian, and poststructural theory circles, as well as art production’. 20

It is also important to note that in Slovene, the word “kultura” (culture) is used as a term to describe the wide field of artistic activity and creativity, encompasses arts, culture, cultural heritage, the media, the Slovenian language, and work related to cultural diversity and human rights, and describes culture as a professional sector as well as an element of society. Therefore, the word “culture” will be used to describe the entire field of cultural and artistic activity, as well as the field’s institutions and workers. Correspondingly, the terms

“kulturnik” or “kulturnica” (culturist) and “kulturni delavec” or “kulturna delavka” (cultural worker), describe an individual working in this wide field of cultural and artistic activity.

Currently, however, it is also commonly used to describe those who have the status of self- employed cultural workers. Individuals who are registered as self-employed workers at the Ministry of Culture are ‘cultural workers who are self-employed in a specialised cultural occupation, who have the appropriate education or whose work demonstrates that they are qualified to carry out this activity’.21 Moreover, if their work ‘constitutes an outstanding

19 Katja Praznik, “Alternative Culture, Civil Society and Class Struggle,” Maska 35, no. 200cc (December 1, 2020): 67, https://doi.org/10.1386/maska_00043_1.

20 Ibid.

21 “Statusi in Socialne Pravice v Kulturi,” GOV.SI, 2020, https://www.gov.si/teme/statusi-in-socialne-pravice-v- kulturi/. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.


cultural contribution, he or she may apply for the right to social security contributions from the State budget (for pension and invalidity insurance, compulsory health insurance, parental care and employment)’.22


2. The Alternative Movement of the Eighties

2.1. Context of the Significance of Culture and the Arts for Slovenia

The following chapter aims to describe the relationship between the Alternative movement and the political events of the late eighties, and highlight its significance in light of the ongoing protest movement. I trace the development of the Alternative cultural movement and analyse their tactics by engaging with the work of authors who have written key texts on this period of Slovene history and culture. This includes Erjavec and his work Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition: Politicized Art Under Late Socialism (2003), and his work with Slovenian philosopher Marina Gržinić such as the text ‘Mythical Discoveries, Utopian Spaces and Post-Socialist Culture’ (1993). Furthermore, I engage with the article ‘Threat or Opportunity? Slovenian Cultural Policy in Transition’ (2000), where Vesna Čopič and Gregor Tomc present cultural policy recommendations for the newly independent Slovenia, and provide a detailed overview of the state of Slovenian cultural policy in Yugoslavia.

Before discussing the role of culture in Slovenia’s transition to independence, democracy and capitalism, it is vital to address the importance of culture for the Slovene nation, and why, in this context, culture is especially politically relevant. Erjavec highlights

‘the importance of national sentiments and the significance ascribed to culture, especially to national culture’, adding that for nations like Slovenia, the idea of the nation and the ‘national principle already existed in the consciousness of a small group, long before the state itself came into being’.23 Erjavec describes that from the eighth century until 1991, Slovenians had

23 Erjavec, “Introduction,” 12.


no independent state of their own.24 Čopič and Tomc write that as a ‘small country that was long overshadowed economically, politically, and militarily by neighbouring nation-states such as Germany or Italy, Slovenia was forced to distinguish itself not so much through power or wealth as through language and culture’. 25

Throughout the nation’s history, its language and culture often came under threat. The events of the first half of the twentieth century remain particularly present in the nation’s collective memory. Following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the First World War, Slovenes living in newly Italian areas experienced forced cultural and ethnic assimilation, the prohibition of their language, the Italianisation of their surnames, and the burning down of the Slovenian National Hall in Trieste. Then, during the Second World War, the country was occupied by Germany, Italy, and Hungary, who carried out policies of repression and forced assimilation, as well as executions of civilians, mass expulsions,

deportations to extermination camps, all with the goal of erasing the Slovene nation. As such, in the case of Slovenia, ‘nation and culture are inextricably linked’, where culture and

language play a significant role in both political and public life.26 Moreover, ‘throughout most of Slovenian history, national identity was built almost exclusively on the Slovenian language and culture’.27 Čopič and Tomc argue that this contributed to what is known as the

“Slovenian cultural syndrome”, which is ‘the special emphasis on national culture in this country’.28

24 Aleš Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” in Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition Politicized Art Under Late Socialism, ed. Aleš Erjavec and Boris Grois (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 135.

25 Vesna Čopič and Gregor Tomc, “Threat or Opportunity? Slovenian Cultural Policy in Transition,” The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society 30, no. 1 (January 2000): 42,


26 Erjavec, “Introduction,” 13.

27 Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” 135.


While this relationship between culture and nation is undoubtedly not unique to Slovenes, the significance of culture throughout the history of Slovenia, in the formation of Slovenia as an idea, a nation, and later as an independent nation, is noteworthy. Arguably, since a vibrant culture is very much linked to the existence and survival of the nation, it can be said that within the national consciousness, a threat to culture is perceived as a threat to the nation itself.

2.2. Before the Eighties

After the end of the First World War, Slovenians joined the newly formed

Yugoslavia, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Erjavec describes that during this period, Slovenia remained ‘culturally traditional and dominated by the conservative Catholic Church’.29 Following the Second World War, after the Yugoslav partisans liberated

Yugoslavia from occupation and simultaneously carried out a political revolution, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was founded. As part of SFRY, Slovenia

‘strengthened its cultural autonomy’ and saw a rise in a more urban and cosmopolitan culture.30 However, until its independence in 1991, ‘Slovenia’s overall culture, political system, and economy were inextricably linked with those of the rest of Yugoslavia’.31 Nonetheless, Čopič and Tomc assert that Yugoslavia and the other nations that constituted it

‘did not represent a threat to Slovenian cultural identity to the extent that the Germans and Italians historically did’.32 In fact, they describe that calls for “Yugoslavism” represented

29 Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” 140.

30 Ibid., 135.

31 Ibid.

32 Čopič and Tomc, “Threat or Opportunity?,” 43.


‘more of a symbolic danger than an actual danger and, as such, contributed more to Slovene national cohesiveness than they encroached on cultural identity’.33 They argue that under Yugoslavia, Slovenia’s cultural syndrome remained largely intact.34

Yugoslavia in the sixties and seventies was a relatively open and liberal society, and was ‘in a different position from the Soviet bloc countries and cultures’.35 Čopič and Tomc describe that the ‘Yugoslav Communist regime travelled a different path than did many other Central and Eastern European countries’.36 Similarly, Erjavec and Gržinić write that

‘Yugoslavia as a whole was a different case from other East European countries at least since Tito's break with Stalin in 1948’ and the country’s break with the Eastern Bloc.37 After this break with Stalin, Yugoslavia led the initiative to establish the Non-Aligned Movement, which united countries not aligned with either of the Cold War blocs. As such, Yugoslav citizens could purchase foreign publications and literature, enjoy foreign art and media, and possess one of the most desirable passports at the time, since it enabled its holders to travel freely in both the East and West.38 At this time, the economic system named socialist self- management was introduced in Yugoslavia, the aim of which was to decentralize, ‘to allow for decision making at the lowest possible level and to make social relations and decisions direct and transparent’.39 However, this system was very complex, difficult to fathom, and arguably led to decision making becoming opaquer and more chaotic.40

33 Ibid.

34 Ibid.

35 Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” 139.

36 Čopič and Tomc, “Threat or Opportunity?,” 43.

37 Aleš Erjavec and Marina Gržinić, “Mythical Discoveries, Utopian Spaces and Post-Socialist Culture,”

Filozofski Vestnik 14, no. 2 (1993): 33.

38 Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” 136.

39 Ibid., 138.


Then, in 1980, the president Josip Broz, commonly known as Tito, died. The

politicians that came into power after his death ‘attempted to counter the decentralization that had been augmented and institutionalized by self-management in the increasingly disparate parts of the country, with their economically disparate interests’.41 Erjavec argues that after Tito's death, ‘the similarities between the situation in the Soviet bloc countries and that in Yugoslavia visibly increased’.42 Erjavec describes this period as a time of social and political cynicism, where the optimism of early socialism vanished long ago and its ideas no longer provoked enthusiasm.43 While the situation in Yugoslavia in the late seventies and eighties was still more tolerant than other East European countries, it was ‘still less tolerant than in the Slovenia or in the Yugoslavia of the sixties’.44 With these changes came a discourse that was populist and anti-intellectualist, and some of the measures introduced, such as the drastic reduction of foreign media and literature, and the introduction of a deposit for exiting the country were ‘seen as visible symptoms of dogmatization’.45

Erjavec and Gržinić point out that Slovenia found itself in a specific position, as it was ‘on the margins, in the periphery of this exclusive totalitarianism’, and as such, it was able ‘to preserve a relative freedom and a coexistence of different political and artistic discourses’.46 At this time, Slovenia was commonly seen as the more liberal and progressive of the Yugoslav republics, where what ‘was artistically or politically still acceptable in Slovenia could be unthinkable in Montenegro or Belgrade’.47 Erjavec describes that in the

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid., 139.

43 Erjavec, “Introduction,” 4.

44 Erjavec and Gržinić, “Mythical Discoveries, Utopian Spaces and Post-Socialist Culture,” 33.

45 Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” 139.

46 Erjavec and Gržinić, “Mythical Discoveries, Utopian Spaces and Post-Socialist Culture,” 33.

47 Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” 140.


late seventies and eighties, the lifestyle and culture experienced a change, ‘a youth and underground culture developed in urban centres, and mass culture proliferated’, and that a

‘mixture of various genres, high and low, profane and elitist, characterized the 1980s’.48 Erjavec notes that all this took place ‘within the confines of the ever-increasing populist self- management discourse and amid ominous threats from Belgrade and the more traditional parts of Yugoslavia directed at the excessively liberal Slovenia’.49

Čopič and Tomc describe some of the unique aspects of the socialist regime in Yugoslavia and the particularities of the system that created an environment in which the Alternative could emerge. 50 First, it was possible to establish associations and societies under the regime, which allowed various organisations, amateur groups, theatres, and publishing houses to form. Nina Peče writes that in Slovenia, ‘the beginnings of autonomous youth activity have been present since the 1970s’, as ‘young people in Slovenia were familiar with and developed a web of various civil society movements and organisations’.51 Erjavec describes that the strong base for the development of an alternative culture was formed by

‘the institutions and positions attained by the students’ movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s’, such as Radio Študent, the first independent student radio station in Europe, Mladina magazine, the Centre of Interest Activities of Youth (CIDM), the Students’ Cultural and Artistic Centre (ŠKUC), and other youth clubs.52 The press, especially youth press and student magazines, such as Mladina, were one of the most important actors for the

development of civil society, and made a significant contribution to the development of the

48 Ibid.

49 Ibid.

50 Čopič and Tomc, “Threat or Opportunity?,” 43.

51 Nina Peče, “Alternativna Kulturno-Umetniška Produkcija” (Ljubljana, University of Ljubljana, 2003), 3, http://dk.fdv.uni-lj.si/dela/Pece-Nina.PDF.

52 Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” 145.


Alternative movement.53 The weekly journal Mladina became ‘a mass opposition periodical’

and one of the best-selling magazines in Slovenia. 54 In their articles, Mladina’s journalists provided analyses and critical commentary on the political and economic issues at the time.55 Moreover, they promoted new democratic processes, and provided a platform for those participating in alternative cultural events and activist actions. Finally, the magazine was directly involved in the most high-profile political scandals at the time, namely the poster affair in 1987, and the JBTZ affair in 1988.

Next to the press and other already established organisations and institutions, new groups began to form. Many were single-issue movements that ‘did not deal with wider ideological problems’, such as the movement against school reform, the movement against the death penalty, and the movement for the recognition of objection to performing military service.56 Other movements and organisations were active within social movements such as pacifism, environmentalism, demilitarisation, human rights, and LGBT rights. Importantly, Slovenian sociologist Rastko Močnik describes that before the formation of these groups began to be described as the emergence of a “civil society”, it was described by terms such as

“alternative movements”, “the alternative”, and “new social movements”.57 Močnik describes that these terms emphasise that ‘that such political activities and such movements are not an

53 Božo Repe, Slovenci v Osemdesetih Letih (Ljubljana: Zveza zgodovinskih društev Slovenije, 2001), 80.

54 Peter Štih, Vasko Simoniti, and Peter Vodopivec, A Slovene History: Society - Politics - Culture (Ljubljana:

Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino, n.d.), 527, http://sistory.si/publikacije/pdf/zgodovina/Slovenska-zgodovina- ENG.pdf.

55 Ibid.

56 Rastko Močnik, “The Vagaries of the Expression ‘Civil Society’: The Yugoslav Alternative,” L’Internationale Online, 2014,

https://www.internationaleonline.org/research/real_democracy/6_the_vagaries_of_the_expression_civil_society _the_yugoslav_alternative/.

57 Ibid.


“opposition” to the existing authorities’, but are ‘opening up, as we used to say, “different spaces of sociality”’.58

Notably, this also included the newly emerging independent artistic groups and alternative cultural and artistic production, such as the music production label FV, whose

‘members were among the key actors of the 1980s alternative scene and pioneers of much independent cultural activity in the former Yugoslavia’.59 Peče emphasises the role of music, and of punk specifically, stating that unlike other cultural practices “imported” from abroad that would arrive in Yugoslavia with a delay, punk caught on in Slovenia almost at the same time as it appeared at its epicentre in the West.60 Peče describes the role of punk in the

beginnings of the alternative culture, writing that it, ‘as a subcultural and social phenomenon, participated in the mobilisation of civil-society initiative by building alternative cultural and social identities and facilitated the creation of alternative art bodies, cultural institutions, media and the integration of an alternative public’.61 As such, this alternative culture ‘shaped a series of socialization processes and nonformal institutional bodies that marked and defined the Slovenian cultural scene’.62

While these organisations could not receive state funding, they ‘were eligible for public funding for individual projects on a periodic basis’.63 However, ‘the state often intervened in their operations through administrative measures and sometimes dissolved

58 Ibid.

59 Peče, “Alternativna Kulturno-Umetniška Produkcija,” 3.

60 Ibid.

61 Ibid.

62 Marina Gržinić, “Neue Slowenische Kunst,” in Impossible Histories: Historical Avant-Gardes, Neo-Avant- Gardes, and Post-Avant-Gardes in Yugoslavia, 1918-1991, ed. Dubravka Djurić and Miško Šuvaković (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2003), 247.

63 Čopič and Tomc, “Threat or Opportunity?,” 43.


them’, leading to these organisations re-emerging under new names.64 Čopič and Tomc describe that due to this ‘constant threat of criminal prosecution, the relationship between cultural policy and civil society during this period could be defined as one of repressive tolerance’.65 Nevertheless, within the Yugoslavian system, cultural organisations ‘enjoyed the status of separate legal entities with independent internal management bodies, although funded and budgeted by the state or municipalities’, meaning that the cultural sector was able to function as a largely independent entity that was able to voice ‘the internal interests of the institutions and their employees rather than those of either political decision makers or consumers’.66

Čopič and Tomc emphasise the innovation and introduction of the self-management model in the seventies. They assert that although this measure was ‘mainly a cosmetic

“correcting of the un-correctable”’, it allowed culture to acquire more autonomy.67 They add that ‘civil society in the field of culture became a legitimate partner in cultural-policy

decision making’ and that although the Communist Party was still able to intervene in decision making, these interventions had to be done publicly, ‘which reduced the state's interest in the actual implementation of this option’.68 Furthermore, the state ‘maintained an interest in ensuring the support of cultural workers because they communicated the public's voice’, and as a result, the introduction of this model ‘led to a situation in which cultural workers were tempted to self-censorship while communist politicians were tempted to

64 Ibid.

65 Ibid.

66 Ibid., 44.

67 Ibid., 43.

68 Ibid.


tolerance’.69 Therefore, despite tensions, the significance of culture was understood and accepted.

Thus, the late seventies and early eighties in Yugoslavia were marked by an economic crisis, political tensions, a loss of faith in the so-called actually existing socialism, and an increase in populist discourse. Despite decades of living together in one country, the cultural and economic differences between the various regions and peoples of Yugoslavia began to grow, particularly between the Western, more economically developed republics of Slovenia and Croatia and the other republics.70 Moreover, all of this took place within the wider context of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the two bloc division of the world.71 At the same time, however, Yugoslavia’s unique political and economic system, and Slovenia’s relatively liberal and progressive culture allowed for some autonomy and

independence for non-governmental organisations. This then allowed for the formation of various civil society organisations and artistic groups that developed alternative modes and spaces of sociality, whose work reflected the experience of Ljubljana's youth, and their desire for something new and different.

Erjavec speculates that the weak shared Yugoslav culture as well as weak national governments in each republic contributed to the strong political impact of an alternative culture that was able to articulate the experience of young people.72 This, then, is the context within which the Alternative cultural movement arose, a movement that ‘strongly resembled the concurrent art of most of the other post socialist countries in its forcefulness and exceeded

69 Ibid.

70 Zdenko Čepič, “Bilo Je Nekoč v Jugoslaviji (1945-91),” in Slovenija v Jugoslaviji: Cikli in Prelomi v Zgodovini, ed. Zdenko Čepič (Ljubljana: Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino, 2015), 49.

71 Repe, Slovenci v Osemdesetih Letih, 80.

72 Aleš Erjavec, “The Three Avant-Gardes and Their Context: The Early, the Neo, and the Postmodern,” in Impossible Histories: Historical Avant-Gardes, Neo-Avant-Gardes, and Post-Avant-Gardes in Yugoslavia, 1918-1991, ed. Dubravka Djurić and Miško Šuvaković (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2003), 59.


that art in its political effects’.73 These groups established alternative spaces, new artistic practices, organisational models, and institutions, where these alternative modes of sociality based on plurality, democracy, and pacifism could be developed and practiced. This resulted in the emergence of the Alternative.

To better understand the legacy of the Alternative movement and how it operates within the context of the 2020 anti-government movement, I will first address the relationship between the Alternative movement and the political events and processes of the eighties and nineties by outlining the movement’s main features, methods, and tactics.

2.3. Description and Analysis of the Alternative Movement

2.3.1. Establishing Alternative Spaces and Practices

In the beginning, there was theatre. In 1980, a few students who rehearsed in the rehearsal space of the student cultural association Forum founded the alternative theatre group called FV 112/152. 74 Its members shared ‘a dissatisfaction with the dominant culture and a desire to create a theatre appropriate to their sense of the world’.75 Their first

performance, a cabaret collage of music and theatre, was staged in an unconventional venue, the basement of Block IV of the student area in the Ljubljana neighbourhood Rožna dolina, in

73 Erjavec, “Neue Slowenische Kunst- New Slovenian Art,” 140.

74 Peče, “Alternativna Kulturno-Umetniška Produkcija,” 14.

75 Ibid.


the “Disko Študent”.76 The FV group eventually took over the Tuesday evening programme at Disko Študent and called it “Disko FV”.77

Perhaps a defining characteristic of any alternative movement is the establishment and formation of spaces where alternative and parallel practices can be developed. This is also true in the case of Ljubljana’s alternative movement, as it was ‘not supported by state cultural institutions’, marked by a struggle for space, and instead ‘took place in clubs, the suburbs, and places where one would not otherwise encounter “art” in these countries’.78 The

popularity of Disko FV allowed the expansion of the production, the renovation of the space and the purchase of light and sound equipment.79 The club night included live concerts, visual-graphic and dance productions.80 Soon, Disko Študent expanded their programme and incorporated various theatre performances, concerts and exhibitions.81 However, as the authorities eventually forced Disko Študent out of the student neighbourhood, citing health and sanitary issues and accusing the disco of disturbing the inhabitants of the student neighbourhood and surrounding inhabitants, the FV initiative moved from Rožna dolina to the neighbourhood of Šiška.82 Once access to the concert hall in Šiška was restricted, they moved to the club K4 in the centre of Ljubljana, where they could expand their programme.83

It is important to once again note the role of punk and rock music, as this alternative art ‘frequently consisted of rock music concerts and took place in underground discotheques,

76 Ibid.

77 Ibid., 15.

78 Erjavec, “Introduction,” 15.

79 Peče, “Alternativna Kulturno-Umetniška Produkcija,” 16.

80 Ibid.

81 Ibid.

82 Ibid., 19.

83 Ibid., 3–4.


where exhibitions of paintings, posters, or graffiti would be staged, and was also, in this respect, much removed from the high art and culture of the intellectual elites’.84 The authorities at the time were greatly upset by punk music, condemning punk and accusing punk bands of promoting Nazism.85 Historian Božo Repe writes that although Slovene pioneers of punk did not have any ambitions to change the world through punk, punk did have a function of expanding public space and allowing people to acting more freely and express difference outside official institutions.86 The most prominent band is Laibach, whose first public performance in 1980 was banned by the authorities due to their controversial posters.87 Peče emphasises the role of the local club scene in the development of the

Alternative cultural movement, stating that with the FV disco, Ljubljana’s “alternatives” had a place to go, a shared space where they could socialise and participate in the reception and creation of various art forms.88

The alternative cultural scene and its values coincided with the values nurtured by

‘the newly emerging civil-society movements engaged in the critique of the established order and the democratization of society’, and together, ‘the alternative culture and civil society movements developed a strong parallel public dimension’.89 Notably, this later resulted in the formation of the initiative of the Network for Metelkova in 1989 and the conversion of military barracks on Metelkova street into Metelkova City Autonomous Cultural Centre, a

84 Erjavec, “Introduction,” 16.

85 Repe, Slovenci v Osemdesetih Letih, 33.

86 Ibid.

87 Ibid.

88 Peče, “Alternativna Kulturno-Umetniška Produkcija,” 16.

89 Zdenka Badovinac, Eda Čufer, and Anthony Gardner, NSK from Kapital to Capital : Neue Slowenische Kunst, an Event of the Final Decade of Yugoslavia, First edition. (Ljubljana, Slovenia: Moderna galerija, 2015), 7.


cultural, art, and social centre, as well as the conversion of the Rog bicycle factory into Autonomous Factory Rog in 2006.

2.3.2. Provocation and Shock Effects

The aforementioned group Laibach was formed by a group of young men from the industrial town of Trbovlje, and became famous for their strategies of shock and provocation.

Their first public show was to take place at the workers’ Cultural Centre in Trbovlje in 1980, as part of an exhibition titled Alternative Slovenian Culture, coproduced by ŠKUC.90 Three controversial posters appeared on the day of the exhibition, which were removed by the authorities who then banned the exhibition and all related events.91 The posters were black and white; the first featured the names of participants and a mining symbol of two hammers;

the second featured a rough drawing of a violent stabbing scene from the horror film

Halloween and the German name “Laibach”; and the final poster depicted a black equilateral cross on a white background, as well as the group’s name.92 The name of the group is a provocation in itself, as Laibach is the German name for the city Ljubljana, and as such, evokes ‘the trauma that grew out of more than one thousand years of German political and cultural hegemony’.93 The posters were removed on the grounds that they insulted ‘public morality and socialist humanity’, and for ‘stirring up religious intolerance’.94 This event led

90 Ibid., 38.

91 Ibid.

92 Ibid.

93 Ibid., 9.

94 Ibid., 38.


to a public debate on the radio and in newspapers under the name “The Black-and-White Shock in Trbovlje”.95

Perhaps their best-known concert took place in Ljubljana in 1982, and began with words taken from a letter of protest over their German name: ‘is it possible that a youth band in Ljubljana – the first Hero City of Yugoslavia – has been permitted to wear a name that forces us to recall the bitter memories of Laibach!’.96 The tension further heightened once Laibach’s Tomaž Hostnik ‘walked onstage wearing military boots and an officer’s uniform’

and roared Mussolini’s “Cari amici soldati, i tempi della pace sono passati!” (Dear friends, soldiers, the times of peace are over!).97 Although the audience threw objects onstage and even injured Hostnik’s face with a bottle fragment, he continued the performance with a bleeding face.98 This was the event that marked the end of the links between Laibach and the punk rock movement, as Laibach moved away from this audience and established their own.99 Laibach then ‘developed a strategy based on manipulation’, which included ‘an authoritarian, militarist image, propaganda manifestos and totalitarian statements’.100

In 1983, Laibach appeared at the 12th Music Biennial in Zagreb alongside two English bands, with a performance entitled Mi kujemo budućnost (We are Forging the Future).101 The performance featured video installations, with four monitors screening Laibach’s video Documents of Oppression, and a propaganda film that celebrated the

95 Ibid.

96 Ibid., 42–43.

97 Ibid.

98 Ibid.

99 Ibid.

100 Ibid.

101 Ibid., 46–47.


successes of Yugoslavia playing in the background. The chaos started when an image from a pornographic scene was projected over a video of Tito giving a speech, where both scenes were superimposed.102 Soon after, ‘concert organizers, the police and even soldiers rushed into the hall and attempted to end the concert amidst complete chaos’, and had to physically remove the groups from the stage.103 Following the incident, the Croatian League of Socialist Youth stated that while ‘it was aware of the artistic provocation that was the modus operandi of the Laibach group, but that the Zagreb show was a case of political provocation, with which Laibach had endangered the limits of artistic freedom’.104 This resulted in a scandal between the two republics and a media frenzy.

That same year, Laibach appeared on a programme on the national TV channel, where they staged a controversial performance, ‘executed like a meticulously directed artistic

performance’.105 The group wore military uniforms and were filmed at ŠKUC gallery, where posters of Nazi assemblies were visible in the background.106 The group answered the

interview questions with prepared statements, such as: ‘LAIBACH is aware of the

manipulative abilities of modern media instruments (and the system which connects them), so it exploits fully the repressive power of media information in its propaganda actions.In this case, the instrument is the TV screen’.107 Following the interview, the journalist called ‘for a political lynching of the group’, and following numerous complaints and shocked reactions from the public, Laibach’s performances were banned until 1987.108

102 Ibid.

103 Ibid.

104 Ibid.

105 Ibid., 47.

106 Ibid.

107 Ibid.


In 1984, Laibach was one of the groups that founded the NSK art collective, next to the visual arts group IRWIN, founded in 1983, and the theatre group Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre, active from 1983 to 1987.109 The design department New Collectivism was founded that same year, while other subdivisions were established later, such as the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy, Retrovision, Film, and Builders.110 Laibach and the entire NSK collective were very prominent in the cultural landscape at the time. The collective’s work was shocking and controversial, as well as popular and visible. They were persistent and vocal critics and provocateurs of the establishment, both through their work and in their interactions with the press and the public. Moreover, their artistic approaches and methods were discussed, interpreted, and often exalted by public figures, thinkers and philosophers, such as Slavoj Žižek.

2.3.3. Overidentification

Laibach’s tactics of shock and provocation belonged to their wider approach of overidentification, or the affirmative approach. Their performances and appearance shocked the public and triggered debates about whether the group really were fascists. 111 While some believed that this was true, others saw ‘the open imitation of fascist symbols and gestures as an ironic and therefore harmless mimicry of totalitarian rituals’.112 However, a group of Slovenian intellectuals and philosophers led by Slavoj Žižek, argued that the group’s artistic

109 Ibid., 11.

110 Ibid.

111 Boris Buden, Transition to Nowhere: Art in History after 1989 (Berlin: Archive Books, 2020), 247,

https://monoskop.org/images/9/97/Buden_Boris_Transition_to_Nowhere_Art_in_History_After_1989_2020.pdf .

112 Ibid.


practice ‘actually represented a successful subversion of totalitarianism’.113 Their

interpretation of the group’s approach understood that the group’s reproduction of fascism and totalitarian rhetoric and ritual was in fact ‘a strategy of radical confrontation with this ideology, and had laid bare the hidden, true nature of fascism, which always remained invisible and unmentioned in order to be able to successfully retain control over people’.114 The practice, then, was not an ironic imitation of totalitarianism, ‘but instead displayed an over-identification with it’ and in this way ‘aimed to frustrate the system and the prevailing ideology’.115

In the guide to NSK from Kapital to Capital, a 2015 exhibition of NSK’s work at Ljubljana’s Museum of Modern art, Zdenka Badovinac, museum curator and former director of the museum describes that since within the political and social context of the eighties, when ‘it was evident that authoritarian, or generally dominant, discourse and media manipulation were no longer something outside us, but that we had internalized the

“master”’, Laibach and NSK’s affirmative approach essentially functioned as a kind of exorcism.116 At the same time, NSK’s approach of repetition, appropriation and exaggeration

‘repeated the monolithism of the system and its ideology, underscoring the empty character of both’, highlighting ‘the official pretence of sustained belief in socialism, even though both the system and the practice had clearly become a farce’.117 In this way, NSK’s approaches were successful precisely because they exaggerated the discourse of a system that no longer believed in itself. Similarly, Slovene philosopher Lev Kreft describes that this approach

113 Ibid.

114 Ibid.

115 Ibid.

116 Badovinac, Čufer, and Gardner, NSK from Kapital to Capital : Neue Slowenische Kunst, an Event of the Final Decade of Yugoslavia, 8.

117 Ibid.


‘refrained from criticising the system directly and instead chose to affirm its weakest points in embarrassingly exaggerated ways which succeeded in denouncing the system without exposing themselves to criticism’.118 Laibach and the NSK collective therefore used the forms of estrangement, over-identification, appropriation, and adopted the subversive affirmative approach, appropriating the state's methods, institutions, and the state itself.119

2.3.4. Evoking the Past

NSK’s subversive affirmative approach was reinforced with its “retro” method, which Laibach called the “retro-avant-garde”, the SNST the “retrograde”, and IRWIN the “retro principle”.120 The retro method can be defined as ‘art using art as its creative material, “art from art”’.121 This is visible in the collective’s use of material from various locations, times, and artistic traditions, and particularly in its juxtaposition of ‘seemingly contradictory artistic traditions: Nazi and communist, realist and abstract, Western and Eastern’.122

This could be seen in Laibach’s image, their military uniforms, their music that was inspired by numerous sources, from ‘Bach and Wagner to more contemporary classical music by Holst and Penderecki, and from Kraftwerk’s electronic music to pop’, as well as partisan songs.123 The group’s work involved Xerox montages where large compositions were created

118 Lev Kreft, “From the Marginal to the Exemplary,” Slavica Tergestina (EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020), 81–82.

119 Badovinac, Čufer, and Gardner, NSK from Kapital to Capital : Neue Slowenische Kunst, an Event of the Final Decade of Yugoslavia, 8.

120 Ibid., 11.

121 Ibid., 64.

122 Ibid., 9.

123 Ibid., 38.


from photocopies and juxtaposed various ideological and cultural images and codes.124 Their visuals incorporated footage from classic horror films, images of Hitler and swastikas, paintings by popular Slovenian artists, old maps, figures resembling works of German sculptors, footage from documentary films and propaganda films. The evocation of history is present in the names of their tours and albums, such as the album “Through the Occupied Netherlands” of 1984, the “Occupied Europe Tour” of 1985, and the “Die erste

Bom[b]ardierung über dem Deutschland” (the first bombing over Germany) tour in 1985.125 The same retro method and evocation of the past can be seen in the work of other NSK groups. SNST theatre, named after the Roman consul Scipio Nasica who ordered the destruction of a theatre, staged so-called retrograde events titled the “Retrogarde Event Hinkemann”, the “Retrogarde Event Marija Nablocka”, and the “Retrogarde Event Baptism Under Triglav”.126 New Collectivism’s work also used a range of sources and combined

‘iconographies, symbols and motifs of totalitarian and socialist regimes’.127 Their work drew on the ‘tradition of the expressionist poster, on Dadaism, Futurism and on the work of German artist John Heartfield, who used photomontage as an effective anti-Nazi and anti- Fascist device in the 1930s’.128 Moreover, they created covers for Mladina magazine, some of which featured images of Tito, Hitler, Nazi imagery, and images of the throne of the

Carantanian princes.129

124 Ibid., 41.

125 Ibid., 51–54.

126 Ibid., 64.

127 Ibid., 81.

128 Ibid., 78.

129 Ibid., 81.




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