Monuments Should Not Be Trusted showcases artworks in various different forms, from photography, to sculpture, collage and painting, as well as music videos and state-commissioned TV programmes. Curated by Lina Dzuverovic, this exhibition brings together over 100 artworks from various individuals and groups, made during the “golden years” of The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Encompassing a period beginning with the rise of consumerism during President Tito’s 37 year reign, a large collection of batons presented to the president during his reign are on show.
Four key themes run throughout Monuments Should Not Be Trusted. Utopian Consumerism and Subcultures documents the new wave of pop culture formed in Yugoslavia during the period, creating subcultures influenced by Western culture, such as the Rolling Stones. There is very much a DIY aspect to this theme, applying the principle of “self-management” to their art.
Comradess Superwoman explores women’s rights and equality in Yugoslavia. Shortly after the formation of the Republic, the Government proclaimed that women now had equal rights. Equality laws were passed yet there was nothing done to overcome the patriarchy engrained in the culture. Magazine covers and pin up models feature heavily in this gallery, alongside traditionally feminist performance pieces such as Personal Cuts (1982) by Sanja Ivekovic. The male nude is also explored here, questioning the equalising forces of presenting a male model as females are usually presented.
Socialism and Class Differences are explored in Gallery 3, documenting riots and protestful art pieces as class inequalities and unemployment grew rapidly during the late 1960s. Irony is employed heavily to draw attention to the difference between socialist ideology and the place of art in Yugoslav society, especially in Stilinovic’s “An Attack on My Art is an Attack on Socialism and Progress” (1977).
Showcasing a wide range of artistic practices, Monuments Should Not Be Trusted brings an insight to a time period not often acknowledged in todays society, and with a new wave of feminism and student activism making a return in this day and age, it is definitely an important show to see.
Monuments Should Not Be Trusted is on show at the Nottingham Contemporary until 4 March 2016.