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May 13, 2010

e-flux lecture at Cooper Union

e-flux
From left: Gorgona and May ’75
e-fluxMladen Stilinović & David SeniorMladen Stilinović: Artist’s BooksGorgonaMay ’75

Gorgona magazine came out in Zagreb between 1961 and 1966, published by Josip Vaništa and the members of neo-avant-garde group Gorgona. Besides Vaništa, Marijan Jevšovar, Julije Knifer, Victor Vasarely, Ivan Kožarić, Miljenko Horvat, Harold Pinter, and Dieter Roth were also involved in the eleven issues. Gorgona was called an “anti-magazine” to distinguish its form from that of usual art magazines, as Gorgona contained neither information on art, nor reproductions of artworks. Each issue of Gorgona was by a single artist, and was a fully realized work of art in the medium of a magazine issue.

In 1978 the post-conceptual Group of Six Artists (Mladen Stilinović, Vlado Martek, Željko Jerman, and others) started the magazine May ’75, which published seventeen issues between 1978–1984. The group had begun to exhibit extensively in the streets, in town squares, and at universities, bringing their works out into the open and addressing the public with them. The magazine, named after the date of the group’s first exhibition-action, was yet another attempt at communicating directly with the public from outside the space of the gallery. May ’75 was produced by assembling individual works, with artists making their own pages on A4 paper and then binding them together. The works included concepts, projects, attitudes, ironical, and political opinions, and it should be noted that this self-organized activity should not be understood as a protest against the Western gallery system, but rather as a constructive alternative to the inadequate gallery and publishing systems in socialist countries, which showed little or no interest in art based on concepts and analysis of the media. New approaches had to be found, and the artists’ magazine was one of them.

Mladen Stilinović became interested in visual art in the early seventies, after he had already been writing poetry and making experimental films for some time. His early books (1972–73) contained words and collages on plastic bags. Virtually all his books are made by hand using available materials and technologies—very simple, ordinary, and “poor,” in the spirit of conceptual art. Until today Stilinović produced more then 160 artist’s books. He drew his topics from society by decoding and subjecting verbal and visual clichés to an ironic twist. The artist often speaks about power relations involving the most subtle mechanisms of everyday life. His topics are at the same time omnipresent and eternal, for they are the myths of civilization: work, time, money, communication, art. His investigations of language and its production in various contexts (such as communist and post-communist) only contribute to this polyphony.

Mladen Stilinović: Artist’s Books
May 14 – July 31, 2010

Opening: Friday, May 14, 2010, 6–8 PM

e-flux
41 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002
T: 212 619 3356

http://www.e-flux.com

Branka Stipančić is an art historian, curator and editor based in Zagreb. She has worked as a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb and Director of Soros Center for Contemporary Art, Zagreb. As a freelancer she has also curated and co-curated exhibitions in a number of museums and galleries, including: Neue Galerie (Graz), Museum Moderner Kunst (Vienna),and Kunsthalle Fridericianum (Kassel). Her publications include Mladen Stilinovic – Artist’s Books (Platform Garanti, Istanbul and Vanabbe Museum, Eindhoven, 2007) and Mangelos nos. 1 to 9 ½ (Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, 2003). In collaboration with Tihomir Milovac, she has worked on Mladen Stilinovic — The Exploitation of the Dead (2007), Mladen Stilinovic – Pain (2003), The Baltic Times (2001) and The Future is Now (1999) — all of them published by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb.

David Senior David Senior is a bibliographer at the Museum of Modern Art Library in New York. Most recently, his writing has been included in Dot Dot Dot and C magazine and he curates a program of events for Printed Matter’s New York Art Book Fair at PS1 called The Classroom. Currently, he is preparing a show of little books from the MoMA library of artists working in Zagreb in the 1970s, which will feature the work of Mladen Stilinovic.

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