Sad Songs of War / Collection as a Verb


Sad Songs of War / Collection as a Verb

05.04.2022 - 31.12.2024 / MSU, 1. kat

The first sequence of presenting works from the fundus of the Museum is conceived as an answer to the current situation. It is a desire to express solidarity and empathy with the country undergoing a tragedy similar to that which is still fresh in our memory. The exhibition was named after the sound work by the Lithuanian artist, Deimantas Narkevičius, produced in 2014 in the period of the first protests, unrests, and plights in The Ukraine, on the Independence Square in Kyiv.


The twentieth century is often called the “century of wars.” We can also follow this long and bloody history through artworks in museum collections, from the First World War to the present times: from painterly testimonies from the Salonica Front by Vladimir Becić, all the way to the ominous black structure in works by Edita Schubert on newspapers from the war year of 1991, and the echo of aggression in hate speech on the streets of Zagreb and Belgrade in the work East Side Story by Igor Grubić. The cult poem The Pit by Ivan Goran Kovačić, illustrated by Zlatko Prica and Edo Murtić, is one of the greatest, timeless works of anti-war world literature. By giving a title to a surface painted in black, Paysage de la guerre by Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos becomes an abstract account about the surface of scorched earth, about the blacked-out past of a generation that witnessed the horrors of the Second World War. Complete destruction in atomic experiments and the post-war years of the Cold War marked by threat is evoked by Ivo Gattin on the border of painting and sculpture, and in the spirit of Radical Informel, literally by using burnt matter.

At the beginning of war events in Croatia in 1991, the exhibition Artist in the Landscape of War was set up at the Museum of Contemporary Art, thanks to which certain artworks remained in the fundus, including Paysage Perdu by Dalibor Martinis, dedicated to the cameramen who died in the first days of the war, Gordan Lederer and Žarko Kaić. The early 1990s at MSU were also marked by the exhibition Ukrainian Avantgarde, held in 1991, which led towards the emancipation of Ukrainian cultural heritage. With its apocalyptic atmosphere, the prophetically ominous exhibition The Future Is Now, with which the Ukrainian contemporary scene from the very end of the millennium was presented, seemed in 1999 as a reaction to the Chernobyl disaster.

Even though we inscribe in the current war and interpret from it the traumas of 20th century generations, with history that keeps returning, in it we also recognise numerous wars of the new millennium, which blaze and smoulder on geographic coordinates far away from us. With the voices of artists from numerous generations and from different territories, we seek to make a request: instead of a global war, let us introduce global solidarity.

Artists: Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos, Vladimir Becić, Joseph Beuys, Stjepan Bukovina, Menci Clement Crnčić, Nemanja Cvijanović, Eugen Feller, Vadim Fiškin, Goran Fruk, Ivo Gattin, Stjepan Gračan, Igor Grubić, Grupa Irwin, Krsto Hegedušić, Željko Hegedušić, Ljubo Ivančić, Michal Iwanowski, Šejla Kamerić, Albert Kinert, Ivan Kožarić, Stevan Luketić, Boris Ljubičić, Dalibor Martinis, Zora Matić, Boris Mihailov, Edo Murtić, Deimantas Narkevičius, Oton Postružnik, Zlatko Prica, Edita Schubert, Mladen Stilinović, Dragoljub Raša Todosijević, Slaven Tolj, Marija Ujević-Galetović, Josip Vaništa, Ben Vautier.

Curatorial team: Zdenka Badovinac, Iva Rada Janković, Jasna Jakšić, Vesna Meštrić, Martina Munivrana, Ana Škegro, Leila Topić, Nataša Ivančević, Snježana Pintarić, Daniela Bilopavlović Bedenik, Kristina Bonjeković Stojković 

Visual identity of the cycle Collection as a Verb: Igor Grubić