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YUtopia (2007-2013)

“Yugoslav-ness” is … to be thought of as a kind of (Lacanian) nullibiquite—located at the crossroads of “nowhere” and “everywhere,” at that place where, because of their arbitrary nature, the “stable” reified categories of national identity begin to signify their own inability to totalize the dishevelled (“surreal”) multiethnic spirit, which they, nonetheless, through this very inability, invoke.

Pavle Levi, Disintegration in Frames

From February From 7 February through March 24, 2013 the Intercultural Museum is proud to present YUtopia, a solo exhibition by Bull.Miletic, featuring a new body of multimedia work developed during the artists’ research travels throughout the regions of the former Yugoslavia in the period 2007-2012.

Today, we remember post WW2 Yugoslavia as a polymorphous piece with shifting roles in an imaginary game of ideological chess—a ghost of a utopian desire that continues to haunt fragmented personal geographies. Taking historical facts apart and putting them back together in a different constellation is to challenge stereotypical points of view constituted on certainty. By re-staging three pre-civil war historical and symbolic events in an open-ended cinematic constellation, Bull.Miletic reflect on the dialectic nature of Yugoslavian identity—a “byproduct” of one of the most controversial nation-building experiments in the 20th century.

The exhibition space at Intercultural Museum is divided in three linearly connected chambers. The initial room features Flashback, 2013, a mural created with retro-reflective paint. The mural’s design is an abstraction of the latest emblem of Yugoslavia, in which the central element was the six torches burning together making up one flame.

The second room features The Third Way, 2007-2013, a six channel video installation. This city symphony-inspired work features phantom rides filmed in Belgrade, Ljubljana, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Zagreb along the cities’ Main Streets named in Tito’s honor, such as Marshal Tito’s Street, Tito’s Road, etc. The work is inspired by Dziga Vertov’s legendary film The Man with the Movie Camera, in which the director through montage blends a number of Soviet cities into one cinematic metropolis. Unlike Vertov's film however, in which the shots from different cities are assembled linearly in a single projection, the image in The Third Way is formed by an overlay of six different projections coexisting on the screen in real time. The title of the piece refers to the political option largely considered as the only viable alternative to the two dominant post-WW2 ideologies, where Yugoslavia’s interpretation of Marxism was manifested through a highly complicated system of self-management organized within a complex network of Basic Organizations of Associated Labour.

The final room in the exhibition features 15:05, 2007-2013, a multimedia installation based on the commemorative ritual marking the exact moment of Josip Broz Tito’s death—May 4, 1980 at 15:05 (CET). The ritual’s choreography required that the entire population “freeze” in a standing position for one minute on the sound of ubiquitous air raid sirens. In this largest-coordinated performance in human history, the whole country of some twenty million people took part by responding accordingly to a single-tonal cue intonated by the country’s complete arsenal of air raid sirens. During their research visits to the six national broadcasting archives, Bull.Miletic discovered the scattered documentary reportages that witness the ritual’s iterations along the eight consecutive years (1980-1988). In the news footage, this extraordinary “social sculpture” becomes increasingly unreal as the “flying” cameras cover the event. In the installation, the individual video sequences are randomly re-assembled in real time by a computer program, forming an endless seamless video feed in situ.

Public lectures

The YUtopia exhibition features a public lecture series with former Yugoslavian writers, thinkers and scholars. All lectures are free of charge and are held in the exhibition on Thursdays.

February 14, 6pm
Filmmaking Degree Zero
Pavle Levi, Stanford University

February 28, 6pm
The Clash of Imagination: (Re)Making of Yugoslav Utopia(s)
Branko Dimitrijević, MoCA Belgrade

March 14, 6pm
Dubravka Ugrešić, Amsterdam

The exhibition and public lecture series are supported by generous grants from Norwegian Cultural Council, Fond for Lyd og Bilde, Oslo kommune ved kulturetaten, Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond, and Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo National Academy of the Arts.