The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb

Collection in Motion

IV. Great World Enigma

When in 1972 the Swiss critic and curator Harald Szeemann introduced the term individual mythologies a Documenta 5 in Kassel, we could hardly foresee that this oxymoron would become one of the most influential notions in art of the past few decades.

With it Szeemann named an art practice in which themes, forms of behaviour, and actions practised by artists are the expression of a very private, obsessive, and sometimes fragile world of artists in an alienated, post-industrial, mass-media society. The speech of artists in the first person can also be viewed as criticism of conceptualist theories and practices that have turned the language of art, after the so-called death of the author, into a barren, alienated, cold, bureaucratic speech.

Individual mythologies push the subjective language of the author, his high degree of individuality and freedom, the inability to fit into the existing society, and often even a true renegade status into the foreground. The term individual mythologies points to the fact that the mythologies of the twentieth century are no longer based on the beliefs of an entire community, but express the obsessions of the individual. This obsession, devotion to a particular idea, and clear striving to express his or her vision through an artistic act, contributed to the creation of some of the most amazing contemporary artworks, of which some are part of the MSU Collection.

Amazed at the great enigma of the world, these artists create works and oeuvres based on the complex system of symbols, which above all correspond to highly profiled personal logic, in this way creating a new enigma for whose decoding it is necessary to know the broader context in which a particular work was made. Often the artists themselves leave a certain key for interpretation (or additional mystification) in their theoretical texts, statements, and manifestos.

We can also speak of the marginal position of the artist in relation to society and its expectations, but also to dominant art paradigms, which is why the works by so-called marginal authors or outsiders belong to this unit as well. It is important to mention here that this marginal, often renegade position was chosen or deliberately created by the artists themselves (Vladimir Dodig Trokut, Oleg Kulik, Antun Motika, Stjepan Bukovina…).


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