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Artmaking in the Age of Global CapitalismVisual Practices, Philosophy, Politics$
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Jan Bryant

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474456944

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474456944.001.0001

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Encounter Three: Art and the Socialist State

Encounter Three: Art and the Socialist State

(p.55) 7 Encounter Three: Art and the Socialist State
Artmaking in the Age of Global Capitalism

Jan Bryant

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter traces the tactics used by the art Slovenian collective, Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK), specifically the art section, Irwin and the music group, Laibach, to criticise the socialist state of Yugoslavia. The chapter offers a brief overview of the political climate at the time leading up to and during the Yugoslavian wars (1980s and ‘90s). Closely analysed is NSK’s use of ambiguity and parody to hold a mirror up to authoritarianism and Irwin’s appropriation of early Russian avant-garde motifs to criticise socialist-realism and the State’s ‘misuse’ of art. As protection against retaliation by the state, NSK never prescribed their intentions, so audiences and viewers needed to bring their own context and perspective to events. Once Slovenia left the Yugoslavian Federation to enter into free-market capitalism, NSKs tactics seemed far less potent, flowing neatly into a 1980s western art context (a moment in history) that embraced ambivalence and indeterminacy. As an approach that hides a work’s political intent, allowing its viewers to have their own political views affirmed, it is argued that such a tactic fails to shake the political aesthetic. [181]

Keywords:   Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK), Yugoslavian Federation, Slovene history, Parody, Ambiguity, Socialist realism, Avant-gardism, 1980s Western Art

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