Culture, politics and society as seen by two artistic collaborations from Eastern Europe, whose practices reflect the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk—the synthesis of all arts. In her next lecture, Irina Kulik will talk about NSK and Slavs and Tatars.
In 2016, Moderna Galerija Ljubliana and Garage Museum of Contemporary Art co-curated a joint project—the first comprehensive survey dedicated to the art collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). Founded in the early 1980s, NSK is one of the most notable phenomena of contemporary Slovenian culture. Initially it embraced the multimedia project Laibach, the artist group IRWIN, Scipion Nasice Sisters Theater, who practiced theater and performance, and the design department New Collectivism. Slightly later, new sections developed, including the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy, Retrovision, Film, and Builders. Working in a variety of mediums—from actions and concerts to visual arts proper—all NSK units propelled its fundamental principles: social and political awareness and critique, as well as homages and references to the historic avant-garde, the ideas and aesthetic of the Russian artists of the 1910s and 1920s in particular. NSK’s active years also coincided with the last decade of the unified Yugoslavian state, reflecting the transitions and turmoil the country was going though.
Exhibitions, publishing programs, performances and open lectures are the core directions of the Slavs and Tatars art collective, who prefer to act anonymously and define their geography as a space in between the Berlin and the Great Wall of China. Avidly reacting to the socio-political environment of present day life, their projects always lean toward a dialogue with wide audiences, often take place in public spaces, and combine smart critique with humor and pop iconography. Initially established as a book club, since 2006, Slavs and Tatars have prepared and released a number of publications researching cultural, historical, and religious differences and rituals which combine for a complicated image of contemporaneity. Their works have been exhibited at such top world institutions as Tate Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou, Kunsthalle Zurich, as well as at a number of leading international biennials.