03.18.2007

Sunday 03.18.07 – Normalization Screening – WHW (Zagreb)

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Date/Time: 18/03/2007 12:00 am


Sunday 03.18.07 – Normalization Screening – WHW (Zagreb)
1. about this Sunday 03.18.07
2. about What, How and for Whom/WHW
3. about Normalization
4. about the screening program
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1. about this Sunday 03.18.07
What: Screening / Discussion
When: Sunnday 03.18.07
Where: 16Beaver Street, 4th Floor
When: 7:30 pm
Who: Free and open to all
The screening program tonight offers a complex account of social, economic, and political phenomena in former Yugoslavia and reveals the tense relationship between critical artistic practice and official political agendas.
We are thankful for WHW for putting this together.
Hope you can make it.
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2. about What, How and for Whom/WHW
Since 2004, the Croatian curatorial collective, What, How, and for Whom (WHW) has been developing projects that investigate various aspects of normalization, or rather, the ideology of normalization that has been sweeping over Europe since the break up of the Berlin wall. Using different formats, these projects have been aimed at revealing false universalisms behind the process of normalization.
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3. about Normalization
The notion of normalization has an interesting political history and has been used by both socialist and liberal authorities at various times and in different contexts to describe nations that are in transition toward a certain defined norm.
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4. about the screening program
Artists include: Vlatko Gili? (b. 1935, lives and works in Belgrade and Podgorica), Sanja Ivekovi? (b. 1949; lives and works in Zagreb), Jasmila Žbani? (b. 1974; lives and works in Sarajevo), David Maljkovi? (b. 1973; lives and works in Zagreb), Goran Devi? (b. 1971; lives and works in Zagreb), and Johanna Billing (b. 1973, lives and works in Stockholm).
The video and film program entitled, Normalization, includes work by six artists from different generations. The program offers a complex account of social, economic, and political phenomena in former Yugoslavia and reveals the tense relationship between critical artistic practice and official political agendas. It references a set of unsolved traumas and discontents in the region, such as: the ethnic conflicts of the 90’s that were suppressed and disguised by the process of normalization, nationalism, a negated socialist past, transition, European integration, pauperization, problematic collective memory, urban transformations, a chronic lack of political and social imagination, and so on.
Vlatko Gili?’s short films from the 70s have received numerous awards over the years but are largely unrecognized in former Yugoslavian nations, perhaps because after 1982, anti-communist and anti-state sentiments were found in his films. The two films included in this screening are Love (1973), which was nominated for a Golden Globe, and In Continuo (1971), nominated for an Oscar. Another artist who started working with film and video in the 70s is Sanja Ivekovi?, one of the best internationally known Croatian artists. Ivekovi? was the first artist in communist Yugoslavia to take a clear feminist position. Included in this screening is her video Personal Cuts from 1981.
Gili?’s and Ivekovi?’s works are politically engaged, but not in a “battle against the darkness of Communist totalitarianism,” but, paradoxically, in a way that took socialist ideology more seriously than the cynical political elite ever did, fighting for complete self-realization of individuals and culture and against bureaucratic limitations.
While artistic practices from the 70s (and 80s) were driven by a direct confrontation with ideologies of domination, younger artists are questioning the rapid march toward “normalization” and transition into neo-liberal heaven. The focus of many of Jasmila Žbani?’s short films, including Images from the Corner (2003), is the relationship between women and war trauma.
Her feature film “Grbavica” which won the Golden bear at Berlin film festival in 2006 is in USA cinemas now. Goran Devi?’s film, Imported Crows (2004), looks at the problematic relationship between his socialist heritage and the present social climate, which stimulates various types of exclusion, intolerance, and ethnic mythologies. Video “These Days” by David Maljkovi? takes us to the former Italian pavilion of the Zagreb Fair, designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Sambito, and finished in 1961. Few people in their late twenties and early thirties are sitting in and around parked cars in front of the building, almost without moving. Both the Zagreb Fair and the modernist beauty of Italian pavilion in “These Days” remind us of the time of optimism, development and ‘vigorous growth’ of the city, but contrary to previous works by Maljkovi?, people in this video seem trapped in time. The video Magical World by Swedish artist Johanna Billing was recorded in Zagreb in 2005. The artist asked a childrens’ choir and orchestra in Zagreb to rehearse the 1968 song Magical World by not-so-well-known band Rotary Connection. Set in the worn-out and never-finished surroundings of a socialist-era cultural center, the melancholic tune sung by young Croatians in patchy English is understood as a metaphor about the ghost geography of Eastern Europe, threatened by the pressure to adapt its own culture to that of the “normal” European standards.

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