Krst Pod Triglavom
Baptism under the Triglav (Krst Pod Triglavom) is still considered one of the most spectacular and memorable event staged by the Neue Slowenishce Kunst, taking place back in 1986 when Slovenia was still part of the Yugoslavian federation. It was a combined effort by all the various groups of the NSK led by its theatre division the Theatre of Scipion Nasice.
Theatre of Scipion Nasice formed in October 13th 1983, starting out with short drama plays that was performed in private apartments in Ljubljana. The following year they had joined forces with Irwin and Laibach to create the Neue Slowenische Kunst, though with an increased profile their performances were still quite small scale albeit elaborate until Baptism.
February 6th 1986 the Theatre of Scipion Nasice performed the premiere of the lavish spectacle Krst Pod Triglavom (Baptism under the Triglav) at the Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana; it was also performed later that year in Belgrade. This was their third major production and still is their largest project, an expensive production involving over 250 people, financed and staged at state supported cultural centres. It was seen by around 25,000. The London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) had hoped to bring the show to London but the Scipion Nasice announced that they were self destructing by 1987 (forming Red Pilot in the process) which ruled it out. Baptism is about the battle between the last Slovenian pagan leader and the German Catholics. Laibach music was used instead of dialogue. Other NSK members supplied the sets, actors and direction. The script was inspired by two versions of 'Baptism by the Savica'; the famous Slovene writer France Preseren originally wrote the first. The Dramatist Dominik Smole (1922-82) later re-interpreted Preseren's original epic poem. The NSK delivered a postmodernist version utilising both versions. While primarily telling the story of the Slovene people being forcibly converted from their pagan beliefs to Christianity by invading Germanic tribes around the ninth century. It was also a celebration of the rich identity of the Slovenian people and it's culture in the shadows of their larger and more powerful neighbours. Significantly it also invited comparison with situation in Slovenia at the time and undoubtedly reawakened a certain amount of national identity. Barely a few years later the republic broke free from the Yugoslavian federation.
Laibach arranged the music, mixing their ideas with the music from a variety of European composers. Musically it's one of Laibach's most interesting projects and quite a dramatic change of style at the time from their previous industrial sound as they took a more classical music approach. They had utilised a rich source of European classical music which according to Barber-Kerovan "...includes pieces of Wagner, Bruckner, Orff, Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, a well-known waltz from the operetta "The Blood of Vienna", and the introductory motif of "Dante's Symphony" by Franc Liszt through which the partisan song "Pociva jezero v tihoti ("A Lake Resting In Calmness") is projected."
In the track "Hostnik" Kraftwerk's "Ohm, Sweet Ohm" can be heard in the background to a poem composed and read by Tomaz Hostnik shortly before he died in 1982.
While Laibach certainly indulged in the classical elements their industrial influence is still very noticeable; Apologija Laibach could quite easily have fitted on Nova Akropola or Rekapitulacija. Other tracks may have strong elements of their military industrial sound blended in to the dominant classical orchestration, in doing so they've still managed to retain much of Laibach's distinctive style. The overall result was very impressive and the music from Baptism remains a favourite amongst many Laibach fans and one to seek out for those wanting to explore Laibach's more diverse work.
Irwin took care of the designs for the sets, 62 large-scale sets were created and painted based on various historical and cultural references. Much of it had a Slovene connection but there were many other inspirations from elsewhere such as a reconstruction of the Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin's proposed Monument to the Third International. Fellow Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky's work also strongly influenced. The Malevich cross was prominent in the show along with other elements or inspirations from his paintings. In general there was quite a lot of features in the onstage designs that was recognised from the artworks of both Laibach and Irwin, who were both assimilating specific cultural and historical references into their work. Even the clothes worn by some of the actors were very similar to those worn by Laibach at the time. Irwin also paid tribute to long forgotten Slovene avant-garde artists within Irwin's unique form of retro-garde. The overall effort was spectacular and very striking; a number of photographs managed to capture its effects during the performances. Some of them can be seen in the NSK book but at the moment the best display of images from the production is found in the large colour booklet that came with the double LP release of the music.
The BBC apparently filmed the performance so there is a possibility that it may some day be released on DVD, assuming the footage has not since been lost as apparently has happened with other NSK related recordings. Some footage of the performance can be seen in the Laibach's promotional video for their unrelated single 'Geburt Einer Nation', it also has Laibach using some of the background sets to film their highly controversial video.
There has always been a lot of interest in this production so it might be an idea to re-stage Baptism. However I would imagine Dragan Zivadinov could be reluctant and probably would prefer to focus on his projects with Noordung. It would need the main players to be involved at some level, at least to oversee any attempts at re-staging the production if it were hoped to recapture the same energy as the first time round.
We can at least hear the soundtrack that was made available on record back in 1987. Nicely packaged as a double LP with a poster and booklet - sleeve-notes are in Slovene and German. There was also a box set version, simply in more luxurious packaging with one extra poster. Both now have to be found in the second hand market however the CD version is much easier to find but in order to fit on the disc the track 'Hostnik' was dropped. The easiest option might be to buy a digital download of the album from the usual main suppliers. Whatever option you take to hear the soundtrack it is highly recommended that you do so as it's amongst the best music Laibach have produced and they always seem to thrive on the classical side of their music. Krst Pod Triglavom enhanced the reputations of Laibach and the NSK and they were at that point seen as one of the country's foremost cultural organisation. Laibach soon got much of the restrictions against them lifted; the following year in 1987 saw the band perform in Ljubljana for the first time since they were banned following their appearance on TV Tednik in 1983. They were now Yugoslavia's biggest band, mainly through international appeal and had signed up Mute Records who were about to release "Opus Dei".
Both versions of the double LP have the same track arrangements.
1 - Hostnik [after original Laibach vocalist Tomaz Hostnik]
2 - Jezero ( The Lake )
3 - Valjhun
4 - Delak
5 - Koza ( Skin )
1 - Jägerspiel ( Hunters' Game )
2 - Bogomila - Verführung ( Bogomila - Seduction )
3 - Wienerblut ( Vienna Blood )
1 - Crtomir
2 - Jelengar
3 - Apologija Laibach ( Laibach Apology )
1 - Herzfeld ( Heartfield )
2 - Krst ( Baptism )
3 - Germania
4 - Rdeci Pilot ( Red Pilot )
The CD version leaves out "Hostnik" due to lack of space, also some tracks have been merged together.
01 - Jezero/Valjhun/Delak - 11:00
02 - Koza - 3:57
03 - Jägerspiel - 7:25
04 - Bogomila - Verführung - 3:54
05 - Wienerblut - 7:00
06 - Crtomir - 4:51
07 - Jelengar - 2:41
08 - Apologija Laibach - 12:24
09 - Herzfeld - 4:48
10 - Krst/Germania - 12:50
11 - Rdeci Pilot - 1:00
The tracks "Koza", "Jägerspiel", "Herzfeld" and "Krst" can also found as
bonus tracks on the Opus Dei CD.
"Germania" which was arranged by Graeme Revell from SPK can be found on the b-side of the Laibach single Life is Life.