Laibach and the Neue Slowenische Kunst in London


London NSK 2012

Laibach and the Neue Slowenische Kunst

London 2012

A major programme exploring the work of the Neue Slowenische Kunst took place in London 2012, consisting of two exhibitions, supported by a symposium and a historic concert by Laibach at the Tate Modern. Nothing on this scale had taken place in the UK before and events involving the groups from the NSK aside from Laibach were very rare. Various ideas had been considered for a while before it finally took shape and came together with as a series of events examining and celebrating the work of an unique and influential art collective.

The main events were:

• March 20th: Opening of Neue Slowenische Kunst 1984-1992 archive show at Chelsea Space.

• April 5th: Opening of Irwin/Folk Art exhibition at Calvert 22.

• April 14th: Symposium Neue Slowenische Kunst 1984-1992 A Historical Perspective, followed by special Laibach performance in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

A number of additional small related events took place, mainly talks and general discussions. In response Marcus Campbell Art Books had a large stock of NSK related titles and hosted some small side events. There was also numerous opportunities to obtain an NSK passport.

The Neue Slowenische Kunst formed in Slovenia when it was part of Yugoslavia but right from the beginning their work had capture the imagination of many in Britain, the UK soon played an important role in the success of the NSK and to a much greater extent in Laibach's.

Neue Slowenische Kunst 1984-1992. 20th March – 21st April 2012.


16 John Islip Street, London, SW1P 4JU


London NSK 2012    London NSK 2012

Introduction notes by CHELSEA Space

CHELSEA space proudly presents Neue Slowenische Kunst 1984-1992, a timely show dedicated to radical Slovenian art collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (New Slovenian Art), focussing on key members: Laibach, IRWIN, New Collectivism and Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre, tracing the impact of their work and the important role London played in the collective’s activities.

Neue Slowenische Kunst emerged in the early 1980’s in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and is widely considered the last true avant-garde of the twentieth century, critically reflecting on totalitarianism across visual art, theatre, music, performance, design and theory. Beyond the popular culture references and subversive music of Laibach, the wider activities of Neue Slowenische Kunst have been overlooked in the UK, especially the connections between Ljubljana and London.

Drawing on material sourced from various archives covering the period 1984 – 1992, including the Laibach Kunst, IRWIN, and New Collectivism archives in Ljubljana, as well as the archive of David Gothard in London, this show will feature photographs, posters, catalogues, and video documentation, alongside numerous articles published in the UK that relate to exhibitions, performances and concerts by Neue Slowenische Kunst.

The show also marks a distinct component in a unique three-part presentation of Neue Slowenische Kunst’s activities in co-operation with TATE Modern and Calvert 22, and will provide a fascinating insight into the complexities of one of the most important artistic movements to emerge from Eastern Europe.

Highlights in the exhibition include material from the theatre performance, Marija Nablocka (1985) by Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre, directed by Dragan Živadinov, which took place at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, hosted by Richard Demarco. As well as material from the exhibition Was ist Kunst by IRWIN at AIR Gallery and Riverside Studios, London in 1987, and from the performance No Fire Escape in Hell (1986) by Michael Clark & Company featuring Laibach. Curated by Michele Drascek.

Neue Slowenische Kunst (1984–1992): A Historical Perspective

Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium

Saturday 14 April 2012, 10.30 – 21.00

Laibach: Monumental Retro-Avant-Garde

Tate Modern, Turbine Hall, 21.30 – 00.00

London NSK 2012    London NSK 2012

Introduction notes by Tate Modern

Organised by Catherine Wood, Curator (Contemporary Art / Performance), Kathy Noble, Curator (Interdisciplinary Projects) Tate Modern, with Dr Anthony Gardner and Lina Dzuverovic, Calvert 22, assisted by Loren Hansi Momodu, Assistant Curator.

Symposium Schedule

10.30–11.00 Eda Čufer: You Name It! Over-identification, Temporary Hegemonic Zone,

11.10–11.45 Anthony Gardner: Impossible Dialogues
While the work of Neue Slowenische Kunst is often considered through the prism of the Gesamtkunstwerk, the role of sound, voice and dialogue is just as often ignored. This talk will link these practices through an aesthetic of impossible dialogues: with history, the state and each other.

11.45–13.00 Alexei Monroe: Stations of the Laibach Cross
Alexei Monroe and Laibach discuss the group’s history, methodologies and key moments in its history.


14.00–14.30 Zdenka Badovinac: Neues Slowenisches Museum

14.30–14.45 Irwin: NSK Embassy Moscow

15.45–17.00 Dr. Jela Krečič: Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre: The Theatre of the Living Concept

                          Dragan Živadinov: Levitation construction


18.00–18.45 Round table artist’s discussion moderated by Klara Kemp-Welch

19.00–20.00 Alexei Monroe: Art in Crisis/Art of Crisis - Totalitarian Perspectives 1984-2012

20.00–21.00 Screenings

21.30–00.00 Laibach: Monumental Retro-avant-garde - Turbine Hall

IRWIN - TIME FOR A NEW STATE NSK - FOLK ART 4th April - 24th June 2012

Calvert 22, Shoreditch

London NSK 2012    London NSK 2012    London NSK 2012

Introduction notes by Calvert 22

Calvert 22 is delighted to welcome the most influential art movement to emerge from the Balkan region in the latter half of the 20th Century - Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK).

TIME FOR A NEW STATE is part of a London wide presentation in cooperation with Tate, who will be hosting a Symposium (14 April), and which will also comprise of a music performance at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (14 April), an exhibition of archival material at Chelsea Space (Chelsea College of Art) and a seminar at UCL.

Neue Slowenische Kunst was established in what was then Yugoslavia. Concerned with the political unrest in the region at the time and issues of national identity NSK projects broke through the limitations of the visual arts. Highly collaborative and based around a constant flow of ideas, NSK provided a platform that brought together theatre, music, painting, literature, philosophy, design and performance, reaching into society at large.

TIME FOR A NEW STATE will be the first major exhibition of IRWIN, the visual arts component of NSK, founded in Ljubljana (Slovenia) in 1983. This ambitious display will feature seminal projects from the past twenty years including a special adaptation of Transnacionala (1996), an interactive installation enabling participants to become NSK citizens and have their own passports created. Also on display will be Kapital (1991), a site-specific installation that mixes taxidermy with religious icons, appropriating and recycling the symbols of past totalitarian governments and utopian art movements.

Public artworks across London will include an installation located at one at of London’s busiest interchanges. This specially commissioned billboard by IRWIN features an appropriated advertising slogan originally used, by a leading drinks brand, in Lagos alerting us that it may be ‘Time for a New State.’

In addition, the exhibition will examine in depth the group’s strong connections with Moscow art scene of the 80s and 90s by hosting a special event to mark the twentieth anniversary of the seminal NSK Moscow Embassy (1992), one of the most influential of all apt-art projects, central not only to IRWIN’s own practice but also to the development of avant-garde practices across the entire ‘former East’.

The downstairs exhibition space of Calvert 22 will present a selection of NSK Folk art; a diverse collection of intriguing artefacts created by the citizens of the NSK State in Time. This virtual state, formed in 1992, today contains over fourteen thousand citizens from Dublin and Taipei to Sarajevo and New York. As it has evolved over the last 20 years, members have developed a strong sense of collective identity, which has manifested itself in the creation of a unique Folk Art, expressing citizens’ devotion to the state and ideologies of NSK. Works on display include NSK passports, stamps, plates and films made by NSK state members.

IRWIN’s constantly evolving practice continues to be at the forefront of the contemporary art scene of the former ‘Eastern Bloc’ countries. Their work encourages the viewer to critically examine the art history of ‘Western Modernism’ as they counter this with their own ‘Eastern Modernism’, pointing to the continued exclusion of contemporary Eastern European Art. IRWIN has actively and concretely intervened in social and historical activities in an era that redefined the status of art in Eastern Europe.

Photos by M Bryon, D Campbell and A Fitzgerald

Videos by Simon Bell

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