AUCTION OF RED_A look at the 70s

Branka Stipančić

I was free from the court, but I was not free from a lot of other things. Mladen Stilinović.

“Life means not going to court,” a quote from Piero Aretino, famed Renaissance 16th century writer that Mladen Stilinović used in one of his photographic works (1978), could be taken as the artist’s life motto: “not going to any kind of authority, neither political nor artistic, and avoiding it”.(1)  The quote always pleased him a lot; he understood court rather widely, first of all dropping out of high school, and then from a great many social obligations that  fell on him one after another.  He had no wish for regular schooling, and he came by everything he needed himself or with the help of family and friends.  He was interested in poetry, and read it from Villon to Khlebnikov, read literature very seriously, was interested in film and so went to the cinema… He was interested in art, and hitch-hiked around Europe, visiting museums and galleries, studying old art and new. He had no expectations that the FilmAcademy or the ArtAcademy would help him much in his endeavours.  As a sixteen-year-old he listened to John Cage, who in 1963 appeared at the Music Biennale Zagreb, and he saw the dance performance of Martha Graham; he followed American underground films at the Zagreb Genre Film Festival (1970). He was stimulated by numerous events and theoretical writings that arrived in Yugoslavia in translations, which were published in books and journals in the whole of the Yugoslavia of that time. (2)

In the 1960s, Zagreb was an open city. Within the hard-line communist system, culture was an oasis, and through it, Yugoslavia opened up its borders to both East and West.  It is well known that the Yugoslavia of the time belonged neither to the Eastern bloc countries nor to the Western democracies.  Tito stood for the third way, non-alignment. The standard of living was considerably better than in other communist countries and, perhaps most important of all, there was freedom to travel. To show its distance from the policies of the USSR (which it had broken with after the Cominform Resolution of 1948) Yugoslavia gave tepid support to Modernism, and at major cultural events such as the Music Biennale, New Tendencies, Genre Film Festival (all in Zagreb from the early sixties) artists from East and West were invited, a rare phenomenon in the time of the Cold War. Theoretically, the social and political system of socialist Yugoslavia was based on decisions of the peoples, the working people and citizens, while in practice there was a strict political system with the dictatorship of a single party that made all the important decisions. The economic system known as self-management worked poorly and was in reality totally directed by the state.

The art scene in Zagreb, capital city of the Republic of Croatia, differed from others in Yugoslavia in the much stronger continuity of the historical avant-gardes, visible primarily in the post-war Geometrical Abstraction of the group called Exat 51 and in the neo-Constructivism of the New Tendencies.  In the Gallery of Contemporary Art it was possible to follow in continuity the important exhibitions of the historical avant-gardes and of contemporary art, Yugoslav and international, including conceptual art in the seventies.

At the beginning, like many young people, Stilinović wrote poetry, and published some of it in the literary journal Republika. But since his interests were more in the direction of film, with his friends in 1969 he founded the group Pan 69, which was a student cinema club.  In order to get hold of film stock and the equipment necessary for making films, this was the only way at that time.  Some of the first films were shown at amateur film festivals, but they were fairly different from the production that could be seen there, and so he was invited to places more adapted to his idiom, where the focus was on contemporary visual art. One such place was the Student Cultural Centre in Belgrade that in the 1970s organised an international contemporary art event called April Meetings, which every year in that month brought together significant artists and theorists including Marina Abramović, Neša Paripović, Raša Todosijević and international guests like Joseph Beuys, the Art and Language Group, Germano Celant.  Projects were produced there, and one-day exhibitions and performances went on, with music, film and later video screenings, there were lively talks, friendships were made and future cultural projects initiated. These were outstanding encounters indeed, rippling with energy, stimulating for artists and audiences alike, like few in the Europe of that time.

It was at the 4th April Meeting (1975) that Stilinović and photographer Željko Jerman, urged on by such exciting events, agreed on a joint exhibition at the open air. After they returned  to Zagreb, they were approached by Vlado Martek, a literature and philosophy student, Boris Demur, then a student of painting, Mladen’s younger brother, Sven Stilinović, and his friend from the Applied Arts School Fedor Vučemilović; the very next month they held their first exhibition – action at the bathing sheds on the Sava.  This was not, for Mladen, the first collective with which he undertook joint actions. In 1970, with Pan 69, he had performed in Zagreb, as part of the Student Theatres Festival, his first happening – May and Other Rituals – a political statement in hippy style, forcibly broken up (3) and then with the group FAVIT he performed multimedia events at the April Meetings in 1973 and 1974 and also at festivals in Zagreb and Pula. (4)

The exhibitions – actions of the Group of Six Artists in Zagreb took place under the aegis of the Centre for Film, Photography and Television (known as Cefft) – one of the departments of the Gallery of Contemporary Art, fostered by its curator, then less well known as an artist, Dr Dimitrije  Bašičević Mangelos, who had to seek permission from the authorities for them to perform on the street. Any kind of private initiative, even just singing or the selling of knickknacks, was not permitted.  The impatient artists were unable to wait for calls from the gallery. They said they wanted to show their works at once, as soon as they were created, that they did not want to hide them away, and wanted to be present themselves at their exhibitions, to emphasise the “unity of work and artist”.  They showed at various spots in Zagreb: in the old centre of the Upper Town, the new estate called Sopot, on the main city square; in Venice, at the beach in Mošćenička Draga, in Belgrade and elsewhere, spontaneously, as a loose association of artists that put its ideas into practice by appropriating on its own behalf a new type of exhibition context.  They spread their works out on the grass, on the road, projected slides and films on the walls of houses. Their works were often destructive of aesthetic and ethical standards, and their actions tended to disturb the public.   The creative territory of the artist was broad and widened every day. They were not the first in this country to have chosen alternative places and means of presentation. Before them came the activities of Gorgona (5), the environments and installations of the generation of young artists gathered around the Student Centre Gallery and the exhibition Possibilities for 71 of the Gallery of Contemporary Art, the work of Josip Stošić, Tomislav Gotovac, Goran Trbuljak, Braco Dimitrijević, Sanja Iveković and Dalibor Martinis. Many of the works and actions of artists and groups in these years signalled changes that in their diversity expressed lack of trust in the institutions of culture, Modernist art, particularly its visual self-sufficiency, and each of them, in their own way, carried on the fight. Looked at in retrospect, everything was ready for changes.

At the time of the first exhibition-action of the Group of Six, Stilinović was making collages, artist books, photographs and films, but for the first opportunity, on the bank of the Sava, he decided on the white paintings Hand of Bread (1974), which he placed alongside the embankment on the grass.  The same works were placed on the street, where he fixed them with bricks, and in a gallery – but on the ceiling.  Showing his paintings in uncommon situations, he demonstrated his viewpoint that although these were paintings, they did not need to untouchable, specially guarded, the artist could act freely with them, not enslaving it in the conventional sense.  In this phrase the words were the mean vehicles of meaning and non-meaning.  The unclear language collocation contains symbolism in hand, which is connected with work, and in bread, that eternal human need, the resultant of work, and expresses an economic relation. An impression of incompletion is obtained, but there is also punctuation, interventions in red paint, as if on some school task. The interactions that come into being between word and sign in a sense close off the saying: tick – that is good; point – that is that; three lines underlining the words – that needs remembering. Still, this kind of open and incomplete structure seeks a meaningful supplement, it opens up a free field of associations and asks for viewer participation. It is irrational and a little absurd.  And precisely here we are in the area of the artist’s interests: the abstruse language although it does gesture at some kind of societal topic, in fact mediates poetic thinking and shows the desire for language to be used non-ideologically.

An interest in language was at the base of most of his earlier works: primarily language related with the visual sign in collages in which he used poetic speech, political and everyday expressions.  He researched in differing materials: on paper, plastic foil, fabric, collaged on photographs, papers, comic strips, banknotes, various kinds of consumables like matches and sugar. Often he stuck it all over with sellotape and his handwriting also had a visual quality. In the next phase he was to put these collages into books.  The first were one-off works (Will the artist…, Record, both of 1973) and were based on the opportunities provided by plastic transparent pages, through which the contents of the whole booklet could be seen at once, although turning the pages over increasingly reduced it. After these first, he worked on a whole series of books that he reproduced manually. Their simplicity became more marked, and the structure more precise. They were written in pencil on A4 and stapled; most often a few words or a single sentence made their way through the whole book (I want to go home, 1974). The words functioned visually and as signs, sometimes manipulated the meaning of the image, emphasised the reading or even created dissonance among the elements. Most of them like Time (1976), From Language to Language (1977), Two Times (1978), Appropriation of Paper (1978) were based on the use of tautology.  In them we are made aware of language, the concrete situation or the actual artistic creation.  The meditative tone dominates, deliberation on the material reality the work of art, analysis, articulation, marking and appropriating “one’s own space” within a sheet of paper. The artist withdrew into his private space.  Some of them look like poems earlier written that were now broken up into pages (Have a Look 1, 1974). Poetry is to be found in his film Premier 1, 2, 3 (1973), a trilogy of short silent films where the public are asked to read the words and images aloud.  In one of these films he decomposed his poem in such a way that in one take there was one word. Since the word was read faster than the duration of the take, the relationship with the previously read word was lost, and at the end, the meaning of actually a very simple poem was lost, for the author was interested in destroying the efficacy of the word with “film time”.

On the other hand, the film in which he shot the signboards on the house in Vlaška ulica from number 62 to 68 (a cooper’s, fresh ice cream, tobacco and so on) he later used for  a photographic book made in the form of a leporello. This opened up the whole of an area of interest in street design, that which came spontaneously into being, to which people without any professional knowledge and sign-writers resorted, and which in this socialist country, like that of many professional designers, was at a troublingly low visual level.  The artist photographed signs over hairdressers (Hairdressers, 1975) and the windows of artisan photographers (Photographed photographs, 1975), panels in front of restaurants and car repair workshops (Script  + Image, 1976), selected examples and presented them.

Since the printing of such books was out of the artist’s capacity, he reproduced them himself, developing photographs by long-lasting work in the darkroom.  The order of photographic pages in the leporello takes us back in some of the works to film dramaturgy (Cotton Pad Step, 1975) while some photographic series were previously produced in film, and vice-versa (For Dürer, 1976), or were produced as photographic interventions in the space of the city (Time, 1976). The reasons for this were most often the unavailability of a professional film camera and the price of film. Still, an 8 mm camera and film would always be found for the documentation of actions that went on in various spaces and the exhibitions-actions of the Group of Six that were mainly shot by Mladen and his brother Sven.

Stilinović’s beginnings are an expression of his varying interests, and the way they are interwoven can be seen in almost every individual work, and that was at a time when in Yugoslavia cineastes stuck to film festivals, painters galleries, writers books, and when there was no critical awareness at all of the book as the work of an artist. This intermediality, so characteristic of Fluxus and post-conceptual artists, suited an artist who ranged freely in differing media, without being inhibited by the technical demands of the various artistic disciplines.

The exhibitions-actions of the Group of Six, as the very name says, were a place where the artists not only exhibited their productions but also put on actions that were meant for the particular space, or provoked by them. On Trg Republike (Republic Square) in Zagreb, Stilinović pasted at a tram stop a series of photographs with the smile of a model from a woman’s magazine Burda (1975), past which the passersby were forced to walk, and which they soon defaced. At the same time he handed them out to the passers-by.  The minimalist-sensibility assemblage Summer corresponded to the season, and the protected nature of the beach in Mošćenička Draga and the intimacy of the action For U. M. (1976), in which he threw a pebble with a name into the sea – an self-censored dedication, a secret and ephemeral monument. In many actions time had a crucial role. They included the movement of the spectators who took part in the effectuation of the action.

He pasted photographs of a clock – showing 50 different times onto the pavement in different rhythms. If a viewer/passer-by wanted to “catch up with the time” marked on the photos, he was not able to halt and look at them (Time, 1976). The artist was interested in giving the recipient obvious elements, and then confusing and negating them.  At the exhibition-action in the New Zagreb estate of Sopot he placed on the pavement between the reinforced concrete buildings, at a distance of a few steps the inscriptions “grass, grass… walking on the pavement forbidden” (1975). And in actions and works done in differing media, there were similar interests and strategies.  Linguistic games and the manipulation of language were at the centre of interests. Then he still looked at language and time/space issues and gentle prohibitions, but soon, precisely in language, found an area in which he would express his resistance to the society in which he lived and in which he felt squeezed.

At the end of the seventies he was studying language philosophy reading Mikhail Bakhtin, Rossi Landi, Roland Barthes and other theorists. From Bakhtin, pioneer of modern semiotics, he learned above all that speech was a sensitive indicator of the social and political system, of social and political changes. Bakhtin spoke of language in its life totality, and particularly of language as a “specific ideological system”, “an ideological sign”.  Language was a product of the “past work” of a given system, and the language of the then socialist Yugoslavia was for Stilinović the material and instrument of an inexhaustible linguistic capital.  He started to use slogans on the theme of work in which production and progress were celebrated, Marxist phrases about the revolution of the working class, metaphors and symbols, particularly the symbolism of red.

One of the artist’s textual works is particularly characteristic of this theme. On pink artificial silk he wrote in red letters: “An attack on my art is an attack on socialism and progress” (1978). He had taken the ready-made formulation “an attack on the achievements of the Revolution is an attack on socialism and progress”, often used in the sacrosanct language of politics, and, switched the roles, replacing one monological expression with another. The difference is in the actor not being the authoritarian state apparatus but an artist with his own feeble voice.  There is no interaction here. The socialist phrases did not call for dialogue, on the contrary, often contained a threat clad in revolutionary zeal. And when the artist changed the “collective speech” into the “individual”, it lost its force and became just self-convinced babbling and, indeed, an absurd statement. Making use of irony and paradox, Stilinović took the brutality of this political speech upon himself, and this so-called “abuse” of socialist speech became visible as manipulation. “The issue is how to manipulate what manipulates you, so patently, so brazenly,” wrote the artist in “Footwriting” (1984), “but I am not innocent, there is no art without consequences” (6). Another example is concerned with art. He used the same principle of “replacement” to ask the question of the pertinence of theoretical considerations of the “death of art”, which, long after the famous debates of Heine, Hegel and Heidegger, were renewed in the 20th century, prompted by the expansion of conceptual art in the seventies. The text “There’s talk of the death of art, the death of art is the death of the artist, someone wants to kill me, help” (1977) was also written on pink artificial silk that with its symbolism additionally ironised the substance.

Pink is important to the artist – it is mitigated red, the colour of Rococo, of pleasure and the petit bourgeois, and is against the “communist red” that he was to “exploit” for years. In Red Poem (1975) he coloured various motifs on 90 black and white photographs in red: nail, mouth, wire fence, war monument, people, cigarettes… Colour also takes on various meanings. Then he wrote “Freedom to red”, later on working out in detail this theme that was important for him. The artist was particularly provoked by obtrusive and protected socialist symbols, and one of these untouchable taboos in the socialist country was, certainly, red.  The works about the de-symbolisation of red – although they made use of a tautological structure, like Consumption of Red (painting on which this text was written in red), Auction of Red (an auction of a painting on which in red was written Auction of Red), My Red (a series of photographs in which the author cuts open his finger with a razor blade and writes on his hand with his blood), Whited Red (a box with red paint to which white is added) – were not only analytical and self-reflexive works, but anarchic and cynical revolt against the social symbolism.  Auction of Red is a tautology for the author put to auction the red painting, but he changed a “socialist” into an absurd reading. The experience of colour, thought Stilinović, should be individual, but this ideologisation constantly deprived it of this. (7) But we already know that the artist is not innocent. He appropriates red and does with it what he wants; he likes tautology, this familiar figure of conceptualism, elementariness, repetition and humour as well. The identity of red is explained in words, materials and works.  And all this is brought into question. Ideology is omnipresent, and the artist plays multiple games with it.

He brings red into the “system of art”: at the opening of the Biennale of Venice in 1976 he exhibited for 10 seconds at the Yugoslav Pavilion a piece of paper on which he wrote in red pencil “Red at the Biennale”.  Through his own blood he brought red into the discourse about art in an environment   Art is…. in the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb in 1977, where, seated at a table in a room full of definitions of art written out on pieces of paper hung on the walls he wrote in his own blood sentences such as “I bleed over this book”…. “letters written in blood”… truthful and logical statements that refer to nothing but themselves.  Then he went on with rather grandiloquent sentences: “no art without blood”, “my life is written in blood”, “it’s all in the blood”, which in the traditional artistic jargon are connected with creation, of the kind that the artist shrank from.  Among the many definitions of art that he took from the best known aesthetes, from the book of Guido Morpurgo Tagliabue Contemporary Aesthetics, the artist wrote some other “problematic definitions”, which also referred to the material that he worked with and the actual process of writing. For the artist, unlike the philosophers who always dealt with big topics, always presents the process and situation here and now. “Each of these sentences,” wrote the artist in an informational pamphlet that he left in the room after he had ceased writing the book “relates to my work by showing how the work can be interpreted (manipulated). According to my opinion the work has to count on manipulation, and that appears here as a component part of the work and creates a whole with it.”  It might be said that here it was to do with the artistic being terrorised by art theory, which the artist jokingly resisted.

Rejection of respect for the external emblems of the state – the flag and the currency, mocking and confronting the authorities with the help of their own symbols were characteristic of Stilinović and of other members of the Group of Six. Mladen in Double Offence (1980) painted the Yugoslav flag over banknotes, creating an irritance with his disobedience to two laws: one that prohibited making free use of the flag and another that banned defacement of the currency.   He wrote texts across banknotes in his blood, wrapped up bread in money, made collages with banknotes… Sven Stilinović painted the flag in black and white only, and patched it up out of wooden planks and cotton wool (1984-1985); Vlado Martek in his actions sold money for half its value (1980) and walked along the street waving a hairy (pig bristle) flag (1983).  The quite frequent invocations of Bakunin and his predecessors Proudhon and Stirner, as well as to De Sade, and quotations from them, particularly in the works of Sven Stilinović, referred to the libertarian traditions that could be sensed in the Group. Freedom of creation and freedom of behaviour, autonomy of the individual vis-à-vis the state and resistance to all the powers that took from people the right to arrange their own lives according to their own needs were felt as a priority.  Humour was important to all of them, but their works were nonetheless subversive. Indeed, with some actions politics as institution was “smashed”.  For where resistance appears, the system itself is jeopardised. Every initiative was able to work as an example and to involve other actions too.

Outside exhibitions-actions were an occasion for talk about art with a public that otherwise would never have gone into a gallery.  This experience was important for them, for they saw in it a possibility for the expansion of their artistic and their social engagement. It was important to shake off the prohibitions that held people back, to get free of value judgements that inhibited artistic work, to enable the work to prove itself and be tested out. Extempore on the whole one-day exhibitions-actions of the Group of Six Artists expressed their romantic aspiration to be able to use art to change life and art, not to submit to any demands and rules of the system, nor any kind of inherited artistic conventions. They had the guerrilla style, the tactic of discomposure, or rebellion in little, full of critical spirit, at once mocking and joyful. The public, which could not cope very easily with this, asked them many questions, which they had not even posed themselves. In these exhibitions and actions art brought life back to the streets. How important the dialogue with the public was is shown by the number of conversations that were held in galleries, unconnected with any exhibition of works. (8)  They were interested in the relationship of artist and artwork to the public, not just the work-public relation. At the exhibitions-actions they would distribute the journal May’75, which the Group of Six started publishing in autumn 1978.

The street was thus a site that offered multiple challenges. They could communicate with the public via their art in real time, with actions that represented their manner of living.  Art for them was not an avocation nor were the exhibitions-actions just the presentations of their material productions.  In works in consumable materials, negligently produced, meant for exhibition on the pavement, as well as their behaviour, they certainly threatened the traditional concept of art. Although it was not to be toppled, they could at least shake it. Their some 20 or so exhibitions-actions meant primarily a revolt, the occupation of space and the taking of the freedoms that irrevocably belonged to them; with them the Group of Six opened up its path.  They pared down their artistic positions and highlighted their moral viewpoints.

At the beginning of the eighties several older and younger artists joined the Group at the exhibitions-actions, but after the opportunity for exhibiting in the Podroom gallery space appeared, exhibitions-actions outdoors were gradually played down.  The first exhibition of characteristic title For an art in the mind brought together 18 artists from Zagreb, on the whole conceptual and post-conceptual in orientation, a whole front of the New Art Practice. Podroom was a typical alternative gallery with hardly any budget at all, in which the artists did everything themselves, including running off the catalogues by hand. During 1978 and up to the beginning of 1980, Podroom was an important gathering place, a place for exchange of ideas, and after that the art activity went on in the next important place – the Extended Media Gallery (PM Gallery), which Mladen Stilinović ran for ten years.

The reception of art of this kind in our setting did not meet with very wide approval. The media were on the whole regularly hostile, sometimes fiercely so with political accusations and personal insults (9) but in fact there were no real consequence for the artists. They did not have the artistic perks characteristic of the socialist countries (they were not given studios or public commissions) but they were not persecuted.  Some institutions in Zagreb and Belgrade continuously followed their activities, with competent enthusiasm, and abetted their exhibitions abroad.  In 1977 Stilinović exhibited at the 10th Youth Biennial in Paris, as well as at the exhibitions in Frankfurt, Modena, Warsaw and so on.  They obtained direct invitations to international shows. One of the most important of the time was Works and Words, organised by the De Appel Gallery in Amsterdam in 1979, featuring artists from The Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. (10) Stilinović met his opposite numbers from Eastern Europe and for the first time he performed before a western public.  Challenged by this situation, he held The Discourse about Language and about Power, and the performance The Foot-Bread Relationship. Both actions were -anti marked. Aware of the domination of English, he gave a lecture in Croatian, against English. It was clear that English was the language of globalisation, “that history is ‘written’ in English, that belonging to the interest, political and economic spheres that communicated in this language meant ‘real’ existence on the map of the world, a language in which currently the greatest power is manifested” (11) and so he raised his reedy voice.  In the public there were artists from the former Yugoslavia who were of course the only people to understand and to laugh at the lecture.

The performance did not consist of kicking a loaf, which we know from the series of photographs called Foot-Bread Relationship (1977). He came onto the stage with bread under his arm, stuck up photos of kicking a loaf on the wall, put the loaf on the floor and stood by it about a minute. The performance analysed the frequent practice of artists in which the ultimate result of the performance was in fact photographic documentation. Well, then, wondered they artist, why put on a performance in front of an audience at all?  He waved his leg and stopped….

Translated by Graham McMasater

Publisded in Mladen Stilinović – Sing! (ed. Branka Stipančić), LudwigMuseum, Budapest, 2011

1) Mladen Stilinović in the interview “Život znači ne ići na dvor”/”Life means not going to the court”, in the catalogue Umetnik na delu – 1973 – 1983 / Artist at Work – 1973 – 1983, Gallery SKUC, Ljubljana, 2005, p. 37.

2) Texts on contemporary art were available through numerous translations printed in journals such as the Zagreb Pitanja, Rijeka Dometi, Polja from Novi Sad, the Belgrade Treći program, Delo, Filmske sveske, Rok (mainly with complete disregard for copyright and royalties).

3) Happening took place at the 24th May Festival of Student Theatres in the ITD Theatre. As well as the group Pan 69 there were artists from Slovenia, Nuša and Srečo Dragan and a few friends. With music we went into the hall, carried banners, gave out flowers, sat on the stage, ate and drank. The baton was carried, one person played Tito. Then the curtain dropped and interrupted the show. At the end knives were meant to be handed out. The idea was that May and Other Rituals ‘68 be shown: the Mayday celebration, the long relay run and rally celebrating Tito’s birthday, the student demonstrations, after which came two Tito speeches – the first that was well-disposed to the students and the second in which he furiously accused them – after which came the expulsion of students and other rebels from the Party, and of course, the reception of new members, for the mechanism had to work.  No one could touch on the topic of Tito. This was surrounded by rules and fear. Luckily, apart from one “informative conversation” nothing happened to those who took part in the happening.  The visual arts were pretty well spared. Cineastes and writers went down.

4) FAVIT is an abbreviation for Film, Audio, Video, Research, Television, which presented the sphere of work and interests of an informal group set up at the Croatian Film Clubs’ Association in 1973.  Film author Vlado Petek was the main generator of the joint actions that were called multivision.  They used a fairly large group of technical devices and screened in parallel films and slides.  Within FAVIT, Mladen produced the audio-visual collage Reign of Terror of the Image, using slides and parallel projections of his 8 mm and 16 mm films and sections from cartoon, erotic and documentary films, as well as a TV broadcast.

5) It is important to mention that although the neo-avant-garde group Gorgona (1959-1966) was chronologically prior to the generation of conceptual and post-conceptual artists, these artists were to a large extent unknown to the generation of artists that, like Stilinović, was formed in the late sixties and in the seventies. There was a caesura between 1963, when they stopped the exhibitions in Studio G (Gorgona) until the Gorgona retrospective in 1977 in the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, when for the first time it was possible to see a largish quantity of their works and understand what it was about. Then there was some interaction between the old (Mangelos, Kožarić and Knifer) and the younger generation.

6) Mladen Stilinović, Footwiting, in the catalogue of his solo show, Studio of the Gallery of Contemporary Art, 1984, no pagination.

7) He wrote about this in the text “Consumption of red-pink” in the catalogue of the individual exhibition Red-Pink in the Podroom in 1979. “Taking red through various contents, I want to de-symbolise it, make it just a colour. Thus the effort, if we want to read the painting correctly, consists of wiping out our knowledge, and not in confirming it. If we want to read the work through knowledge of this colour, there will be an absurd reading.  Since we cannot hide knowledge, the works are read as symbols and de-symbols.”

8) Actions of the Group of Six: on New Year’s Eve in the Skyscraper Passage, Zagreb (1977), Oral tradition in Nova Gallery and the SKC Gallery, Belgrade (1978).

9) On the occasion of the 10th Youth Biennial in Paris, in the article “Between terrorism and destruction” in Oko, November 17, 1977, Zrinka Novak wrote: “Certainly, these exhibitions of the Paris Biennial – incorporating without any conflict the endeavours of exhibitors from our country – are today more interesting to sociologists, speech therapists and even psychiatrists than to those who in any way deal with visual phenomena… Everything that I looked at going round the exhibition was violence, was destruction. No one actually hijacked a plane, but still this, I think, is the real basis, the ideational basis of the terrorism of the young: the conviction that it is all a lie, and that everything has to be pulled down.”  Stilinović had exhibited the white paintings Hand of Bread and five books: I want to go home, Time, Now, Disorder, Written in Blood.

10) The following exhibited: Gábor Attalai, Gábor Bódy, Miklós Erdély, Tibor Hajas, Dóra Maurer, Endre Tot, Jerzy Beres, Jan Mlcoch, Petr Štembera, Tomislav Gotovac, Sanja Iveković, Dalibor Martinis, Raša Todosijević, Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek, Józef Robakowski, Zbigniew Warpechowski, Ryszard Waszko and others.

11) Mladen Stilinović in the interview “Opera Pain” in the catalogue Pain, Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, 2003, p. 18.

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