THE RED DISTRICT SYMPOSIUM (Past Perfect – Future Tense)


24th, 25th and 26th of September at Delavski dom Trbovlje

The symposium will present lectures on various aspects of the history and reference points in the development of the group Laibach. In a series of panel discussions the audience will have the chance to join in the debates. During the three days the symposium will cover subjects including the Yugoslav cultural context, retrogardism, collective practice, artistic and political scandals and the ways in which politicised art actions spill over into real life.

Programme overview:

Friday, 24th September 2010

11:00 - Guided tour through LaFarge Cementarna Trbovlje (Cement Factory)

Start of Symposium: 13:30

Laibach Kunst – identification of the suspect

This session will reconsider the work of Laibach Kunst and aim for a fresh evaluation of the relations and references to its sources and to its contemporaries. What was and is Laibach Kunst, and how can it be read in relation to the ongoing construction of history? What is the context of the formation of Laibach Kunst, the logic of its existence, its internal paradoxes, implications, its overt and covert agendas?
In the light of the ambivalent threat/promise that its artistic, musical and performative manifestations implied for Yugoslav civil society, it is necessary to consider the total background and daily context of both sender and receiver. That is, the condition of both Laibach Kunst and its audiences. How was it that the Yugoslav authorities were paralysed by a small militant group of young provocateurs?
Laibach's holistic approach to art, music, text, propaganda, cut-ups, mockery, bluffing, appropriation, poeticised fatalism, the rejection of authorship generated a vague and oscillating range of perceptions producing various assumptions, accusations of extremism or theoretical association with conceptual art practices on the one hand, and Lacanian psychoanalysis on the other. Yet none of these interpretations are quite able to define the entirety and complexity of the phenomenon. The work of Laibach Kunst represents a many sided referentiality, which, no matter what form it assumes, always points towards culture's systemically affirmative function and the perverted state of the spectator-consumer.

13:30 - Introduction: Alexei Monroe
13:45 - Talk: (Slovene language): Aleš Leko Gulic, prof.
14:30 - Talk: (Slovene language): Barbara Borcic (art historian, curator & publicist, SCCA-Ljubljana)


15:45 - Talk (Slovene language): Igor Vidmar (political commentator, concert promoter, publisher)
16:30 - Talk: Mark Terkessidis (author, editor)
17:30 - Panel discussion: Recapitulation – actualisation With: Chris Bohn, Pete Webb, Goran Lisica Fox, Dejan Kršic, Petar Janjatovic

Saturday, 25th September 2010

Neue Slowenische Kunst – Collectivism and the Proliferation of the Retro-concept

The official ban that prohibited the use of the name Laibach combined with a continuous growth of interest in the mode of aesthetics the group practiced necessitated and facilitated the spread of such aesthetics into new contexts. This plus personal and conceptual affinities within the Slovene arts scene led to the formation of NSK in 1984. Drawing on the conceptual and visual resources already laid out by Laibach Kunst, the NSK groups gradually developed individual approaches, concepts and viewpoints from out of the collective framework of NSK.
Although NSK carried out only a relatively small number of collective public presentations, dramas and other ceremonial performances certain shared motifs and a collective iconography) the collective platform served as a cultural antidote, an actually-existing gravitational force in the Slovenian cultural scene of the 1980s. Much has been said and written about NSK already, yet there remains a space for a more intensive re(tro)-definition of its activities and modes of operation.
The session will analyse the different practices and viewpoints within this (historic) formation while taking into account the remaining bonds to the current practices of its member collectives. Collectivism and the establishment of a militant and conceptually radical cultural centre of gravity will be central to the discussion. NSK's practice was based on the existence of a coherent “other”- the socialist state and its condition throughout the 1980s. When discussing the end of NSK, we need to look back at the end of Yugoslavia as such- reconsidering the wider historical context and how this fed into and produced certain cultural necessities.

11:00 - Talk: Miško Šuvakovic (art theorist, aesthetician)
11:45 - Talk: Darko Štrajn (philosopher, researcher on pedagogy, author)
12:45 - Talk: Jela Krecic (art theorist, journalist)
13:30 - Talk: Jože Pirjevec (historian)


15:15 - In conversation: Moderator: Zdenka Badovinac With: Dragan Živadinov, Members of Laibach
16:30 - Public Workshop with artist collective BridA - How to produce collectively

Sunday, 26th September 2010

The NSK state – a tale of proclamation and its realities.

The creation of the NSK state as a collective artistic construction also marked a new phase in the evolution of the retro-aesthetics and positions developed by the Neue Slowenische Kunst groups. The NSK State has gained international attention as a project that breaks down accepted thresholds between art, performance and real life.
Appropriating the ‘legal’ paraphernalia of nation states such as the right to citizenship, passports, flags, temporary ‘territories’ and state presentations etc, the state uses state symbolism to annexe new territories for culture, and to escape into previously-unimagined spaces. The NSK state was founded during the ongoing disintegration of the Yugoslav state and at a time when the artistic utopia of an independent Slovene state previously invoked by NSK had become a mundane commercial reality.
The NSK state as a social sculpture emerged from shifting political realities and its utopian aspect grew along with the growth in the number of its citizens. In the light of the forthcoming first congress of NSK citizens in October 2010, the session will examine the history and potential future of this unique artistic conceptual construction, which has so far had a primarily symbolic existence. What will be the fate of the state if its citizens assume primary responsibility for its direction? What should or will its content be, what binds its diverse citizens and can it assume a new concrete existence? Invited speakers and NSK state citizens will examine such questions and look ahead to the state's possible futures.

11:00 - Talk: Suzana Milevska (curator, theorist)
11:45 - Talk: Miha Kovac (cultural / political analyst, publisher)
12:30 - Talk: Darij Zadnikar (political philosopher)


14:00 - Talk: Michael Goddard (author, media theorist)
14:45 - Talk: Igor Pribac (philosopher, translator)
15:30 - Panel discussion: moderated by Alexei Monroe With: Zoran Thaler, Alexander Nym, NSK Citizens’ Congress Delegates

17:00 – 18:30: Guided tour through HSE Termoelektrarna Trbovlje TET (Power station TET)

19:30 - Lecture on Mount Kum: Julijana Zabeva (musicologist)
20:00 - Peter Mlakar: ”Sermon on the Mountain“

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