Academic Session 24: Loughborough 2017

43rd Annual Conference and Art Book Fair
Loughborough University
6th – 8th April 2017

Radical Art in Transition: Counter-culture, protest, resistance and contemporary art in the Balkans since 1968


Jonathan Blackwood, Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University,
Jasmina Tumbas, SUNY: University at Buffalo,

…this transformation is now openly being challenged by the rise of new social movements and by the return of radical politics in the post-Yugoslav and wider Balkan region. A new generation enters politics via direct democratic actions and the street and not through political channels of electoral democracy and classic party politics…sometimes in unlikely places, such as the post-socialist and post-conflict Balkans, we can see a sudden explosion of original radicalism.

Igor Štiks & Sre?ko Horvat, Radical Politics in the
Desert of Transition, 2015

Štiks and Horvat’s analysis of recent political protests in the former Yugoslavia, and in the wider Balkan region, focus on the development of ‘parallel institutions’, ‘alternative structures’, and the struggles of a "new consensus” to gain traction in a heavily contested and corrupted political landscape.

Much of this analysis could also be extended to open out intersections between counter cultures, political protest, and contemporary art in the Balkans region since the upheavals of 1968. From the actions of the New Left in the Yugoslav context, to more recent public demonstrations against governments and the effects of neoliberal politics from Slovenia to Turkey, from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Moldova, protest and the cultural and political imagination are vivid threads in late modern and contemporary art in the region.

This panel seeks papers that address the intersections between visual culture and political protest in the Western Balkan space. We are open minded about the approaches you could take; from art historical analyses of specific moments (e.g. Serbian art’s response to the rise of radical nationalism at the end of the 1980s and in the Miloševi? years), to essays on the role and future of institutions in a bleak funding landscape, to specific interventions by cultural actors in the political or para-political stage.

We are interested too, in how visual culture has responded to and developed particular layers of protest; such as LGBTIQ+, debates surrounding minority rights, and self-organised community based actions.

In opening out debate on the complex inter-relations between visual culture, counter culture and protest, we hope that our joint work will develop new insights and understandings into these difficulties, and to contextualise these debates against a broader background of political, economic and cultural hierarchies within the EU.

Click here to download a .pdf of this session's paper abstracts

Laura Leuzzi (DJCAD, University of Dundee) The Fourth Encounter in Motovun (1976): A platform for experimentation for early video art

Gediminas Gasparavi?ius (University of Akron) Guarding the Imaginary State: Enacted time and imagined territories as strategies of resistance in the art of the Slovenian Group IRWIN

Nela Mili? (University of the Arts, London) Radical Artefacts

Jasmina Tumbas (University at Buffalo) ‘Ubi Cigane (Kill Gypsies)’: The art of survival in post-Yugoslav identity

Igor Stiks (Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh) From Official to Militant: Activist redefinitions of Socialist Art

Janka Vukmir (Institute of Contemporary Arts, Zagreb) Creative Responses to the Idea of the 'State' in Contemporary Croatia

Jonathan Blackwood (Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen) An Ecology of Contemporary Art in Macedonia : Critical visual strategies and their outcomes