The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb


Mladen Stilinović: Zero for Conduct; A retrospective

Opening: November 30th, 2012 at 7 p.m.

Mladen Stilinović (Belgrade, 1947) belongs to the generation of Croatian artists that began their careers in art in the early 1970, outside and against the institutions of art and of the state. Stilinović made his first art works in the form of GEFF-style experimental film. Then, especially within the Group of Six Authors, he realized his first works of conceptual nature. His activities were aimed at probing the social reality – first of all, its political dimension. In the social fabric, he exposes the mechanisms of power, but also the positions of powerlessness. He consistently delves into the phenomenon of language as a means of political, as well as of artistic manipulation. During several decades, in numerous actions, exhibitions and books he authored, Stilinović confirmed the position of the artist as a corrective agent in a society that surrounds him. Stilinović provokes, defies value systems and systems of power; he mocks them and makes a parody of them.

In the same way as during the former Communist regime, Stilinović’s themes are strictly focused in the globalizing neoliberal-capitalist regime of our time; he finds them literally everywhere, in his immediate surroundings, in newspapers, on the street, among ordinary people, in places where social destitution and poverty reign, among artists… They are: Money, Pain, Time, Red, White, Laziness, Exploitation, Death, Poverty, Black, Economy… If we are allowed to borrow from anarchist vocabulary, Stilinović speaks about deficiencies in social equality, self-organizing and fair distribution, and about lacking a principle according to which an individual could satisfy as many of his needs as possible without harming others.

The exhibition Zero for Conduct encompasses the period from the first Stilinović’s films in the early 1970s, including the provocative Primer 1, 2, 3 from 1973, to the early series of photographs1stof May/ Labour Day 1975, to the self-portrait Sing! from 1980, to the recent photographs, such as Chinese propaganda from 2001. Among the thematic cycles, produced since 1980s, we will show his complex spatial installations, including a number of ready-made works, collages on paper, which are assembled under the titles Money (since 1978) which encompasses many collages with bank notes; Economy (since 1993), including Subtracting Zeros and Geometry of a Cake; Eksploatacija mrtvih [Exploitation of the Dead] (1984-1990), with dozens of small format works installed on a workers shack; Red-pink(1973-1981), with Red Bread,and his emblematic work Artist who doesn’t speak English is not an artist; White Absence (since 1990) with numerous works in white;Pain (since 1977), including the famous ready-made Dictionary-pain, with about five hundred leaves of an English dictionary of concepts.

Mladen Stilinović is currently among the most acknowledged and most exhibited Croatian artists on the international scene of contemporary art. His works have been shown on the most prestigious problem-oriented exhibitions, and international biennials; they can be found in the most important collections of modern and contemporary art museums.

Curator: Tihomir Milovac

Nov 30th, 2012 – Feb 3rd, 2013

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