Free School for Art Theory and Practice

Overidentification and Modernity. Seminar with Branislav Dimitrijević


“I think we still may take art more seriously then in the West nowadays.” Branislav Dimitrijević Interviewed by Peter Fuchs


November 23–26, 2006; Collegium Budapest

 Day 1: Regarding “Over-Identification”: Tactics of Critical Irony in Art Since the 1960s and Their Relevance Today

With the break with the modernist paradigm in art in the 1960s, many art practices employed ambivalent tactics of entering a critical dialogue with issues of politics, ideology, and identity in different societies. The historical examples may range from American Pop art to dissident tactics in the art of the socialist countries in Eastern Europe. Also, in today’s contemporary art, these tactics developed into either an ironical maneuvering of the attitudes of artists towards the art system or activist tactics of cultural jamming. The term “over-identification” was introduced by Slavoj Žižek in his analysis of the phenomenon of Laibach and NSK in the early 1980s. It is used only as a point of departure to discuss the means of critical thinking employed by artists in the condition of a liberal democracy, which tends to incorporate almost every critical attitude into its “flawless” system. The seminar will be illustrated with historical and contemporary examples (as much from Western Europe as from art scenes in Turkey, the countries of ex-Yugoslavia, Romania, Russia, etc.) and students will be encouraged to critically re-think contemporary art practices they are already familiar with and to discuss their own tactics of resisting certain political trends.

Day 2: Is Modernity Our Antiquity (Or Our Future)?

There has been growing interest among contemporary artists in the world of modernity, its universalistic promise, its heroisms and catastrophes; an interest in modernism as cultural practice with reduced but programmatic forms. There is a sense of nostalgia mixed with revivals of its radical potential.

The aim of the seminar is take examples of some contemporary artists dealing with the issue of modernity and modernism, and to juxtapose interest in modernity in the ex-socialist countries of South East and Central Europe with that in Western Europe. The seminar will provide an “open box” for participants to add examples of contemporary readings of modernity and modernism.

Branislav Dimitrijević (Belgrade) is lecturer in history and theory of art, writer and curator. He is Senior Lecturer at the School for Art and Design (VSLPUb) in Belgrade also teach Art History at Academia Nova in Belgrade.