Sweet 60s: Movements and Spaces (Zagreb)

Sweet 60s: Movements and Spaces

3. & 4. 12. 2010, Gallery Nova, Teslina 7 Zagreb

co-organized by tranzit.at & WHW
within the framework of Act 4/ 8th Shangai Biennial


“Sweet 60s” is a long-term experimental research project that investigates hidden territories of the revolutionary period of the 1960s, regarded from contemporary artistic and theoretical perspectives. The curatorial and artistic focus lies on “post ideological societies” (in post-soviet, post socialistic, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, West and Central Asian as well as North African countries, and in a second phase in China and Latin America) and in making a comparative analysis and contextualization of the historical developments in arts, culture and society of the 1960s and 70s, and their subsequent effects on contemporary socio-political and cultural situations.

The main focus lies upon the still underexposed global cultural shift in the 1960s and its subsequent effects in countries that were skipped out from the historical explorations of that particular revolutionary period. The general perception of the 1960s period is still associated with western culture and with the formal fragmented replications of processes on the “peripheries” and “outskirts”. “Sweet 60s” points at, reiterates, and re-narrates the still hidden geographies and societies of this cultural shift that most recently is getting rediscovered as a main influence for young artists in different localities around the globe.

In contrast to the now accepted master narratives and historical canons, “Sweet 60s” considers the processes of 1960s not as an eruption of a volcano with its fading away waves generating echoes in the rest of the world, but as a certain general socio-cultural, political, economical condition evolving in global context, which determined the development of parallel modernities interrelated with the development of diverse radical socio-political and cultural processes in every part of the world.
Friday, 03.12.2010.

Socialist self-management
Branko Dimitrijević (Belgrade), Vesna Kesić (Zagreb), Matko Meštrović (Zagreb), Ozren Pupovac (Zagreb / Berlin)
Moderator: Dejan Kršić / WHW

The starting point of the panel is the social, political and cultural life in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1960s, from the perspective of socialist self-management, at the times when the Yugoslav model of socialist self-management achieved a considerable economic development and was widely respected by the Left as an alternative to both statistic and capitalistic societies.

In both social and economic terms, self-management in Yugoslavia was seen as the basis of ‘withering away of the state’ and a phase of transition towards the communist society, through a break with both the planned Stalinist economy and the liberal capitalism. On one hand, this created a hybrid of various forms of economic organization that enabled direct democracy at lower levels of production. On the other hand, the incorporation of elements of both the planned economy, manifested in Party control, and the market economy (especially as a result of the liberalization of  the Yugoslav markets after 1965) brought about the deep chasm between proclaimed and realized ideals of socialism.

Although the 1960s culminated with resistance to ‘red bourgeois’ of new technocratic elites that gained momentum after economic reforms in 1965, the 1960’s are a decade of strong economic growth that is seriously committed to the building of self-management, and questions of modernism and modernization had not yet been suppressed by national political movements that characterized the economic stagnation of the 1970s.

The panel discusses relations of self-management and education, forging of Yugoslav consumerism, patterns of ever-lingering cliches of the ‘dissident’ artist, the position of women in proclaimed equality of sexes, contradictions inherent to understanding of class struggle in Yugoslav self-management. Although the panel is focused on Yugoslavia, the model of Yugoslav self-management is understood as a case study, which forms the background to a broader discussion on models of artists’ self-organizations and politicization of neo-avant-garde movements. It takes a look at the discredited heritage of a socialist alternative to modernism not as an exercise in nostalgia or orientation-training for confused post-communist cultural workers navigating between mutually supported demands of ethno-nationalism and neo-liberalism, but as a question what could be its truly alternative and emancipatory content.

Saturday, 04.12.2010
11 – 12h
public interview with Matko Meštrović, by Sabina Sabolović/ WHW

The interview will focus on the movement and series of exhibitions and events ‘New Tendencies’, held in Zagreb from 1961 – 1973.

Politicized forms of neo-avantgarde
Vardan Azatyan (Yerevan), Abdellah Karroum (Rabat), Želimir Koščević (Zagreb)
Moderator: Ivet Ćurlin/ WHW

The panel looks into different institutional and organizational frameworks and models within which modernists and neo-avant-garde movements operated, and how these resonate with the present. It will discuss examples such as the position of avant-garde and neo-avant-garde movements in relation to the national emancipation in Armenia, representations of the African continent in the processes of disintegration of system of modernism and ingenious insights in its links with colonialism, and the international movement of ‘New Tendencies’, whose complex relations to ideas of universal emancipation, potentials and meanings of artistic agency and concept of autonomy of art conceived through self-sufficiency, disciplinary enclosure, professional division of labor, etc., for generations to come influenced the ways in which modernism and its transformation in Yugoslavia are discussed. Although crucial for understanding today’s institutional relationships within art as well as forms of contemporary cultural activism and self-organization, on the local level the importance of ‘New Tendencies’ is only recently being institutionalized, often misunderstanding their international and emancipatory yearnings for debates on center and periphery, artistic freedom and notions of creativity.

The proposal is to look at the dynamics as well as the historical and present assessments of modernist and neo-avant-garde movements from the perspective that bypass view of western-dominated success story of ‘conceptual practices’, looking instead to their social commitments and links to broader culture and social movements. What insights into the legacy of ‘New Tendencies’ might have in common with explorations of encounters of the hippie movement and the late beatniks in the 60s in Morocco, or with the understanding of cultural and political forces active in the Soviet peripheries of the late thaw and early Brezhniev period, or have to do with the perspective that looks beyond nationalistic and postcolonial framework and common resentment of socialist project of modernization.

Reorganizing urban space in collective modality
Dafne Berc and Maroje Mrduljaš (Zagreb), Tony Chakar, (Beirut), Omar Nagati (Cairo)
moderator: Georg Schöllhammer / tranzit.at

“The major metropolis in almost every newly-industrialising country is not a single unified city, but, in fact, two quite different cities, physically juxtaposed but architecturally and socially distinct y These dual cities have usually been a legacy from the colonial past.” (Janet Abu-Lughod, 1965)

In the 1960’s  many of the cities of the socialist and decolonized worlds hat to face a shift in urban self-reception and governance. This shift mostly from colonial to postcolonial often meant a new scope for the state, which was now to represent the entire populace, not just imperial interests. Town planning got a central figure in this shift. Symbolically this was expressed in the supply of representational structures and government-provided housing as well as infrastructure to meet that new demand,

In addition to existing spatial inequalities, however, the capitals of the newly independent nations were faced with additional symbolic contradictions in the city. Architecture and urban planning whether modest or grandiose, had been consciously conceived to convey cultural as well as political authority. To reflect on its own vernacular cultures, representational spaces, and modes of signification, was not only a much longer-term project but also, because of competing regional, ethnic, linguistic, and other tensions, often it was the continuation of colonial patterns that survived in rapidly urbanizing, low-capital cities.

Prestige buildings in a hybrid modernist style would signal the country’s independence and housing estates built to resemble European towns would signal its economic strength. And yet, shaping and sanitizing a major international city was not and could never be such a simple task. Despite what official ideology often proclaimed, the new territorial concept often did not succeeded at producing sufficient synergy effects to set into motion a self-supporting development. The prestige projects often remained imposing gestures whose symbolic integrational power was not enough to lastingly secure the legitimacy of this planning. The insoluble contradiction between the imaginary space of power dramatization and the real space of everyday life likewise contributed to prolong a social divide. Similarly, the culture of the informal economy and the illegal city were shaped by the inhabitants, but not chosen by them. Those two trends-the government’s new responsibilities in matters of architecture and urbanism and the unplanned growth of an informal city – were often the motors driving the development of architectural and urban scapes in the decades after independence. In response both were forced to articulate their own visions for the shape of the city.

The panel questions the still existing analysis of these developments in dualistic categories traditional/modern, old/new, and intends to show that social and spatial divisions in the city were not nearly so clear cut as has been represented. Instead, there were charged interconnections between the two modalities and spaces. The new postcolonial settlement offered opportunities to self-organize and move between cultures and spaces, constructing new identities, identifying with the new and creating indigenous modernities.

the seminar is funded by:
City Office for Culture, Education and Sport City of Zagreb
Erste Foundation
Ministry of Culture Republic of Croatia
National Foundation for Support of Civil Society Croatia
Shangai Biennial


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Filed under alternative education, contemporary art, critical thought

One response to “Sweet 60s: Movements and Spaces (Zagreb)

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