Eda Čufer & Irwin

Retro avant-garde is the basic artistic procedure of Neue Slowenische Kunst, based on the premise that traumas from the past affecting the present and the future can be healed only by returning to the initial conflicts. Modern art has not yet overcome the conflict brought about by the rapid and efficient assimilation of historical avant-garde movements in the systems of totalitarian states. The common perception of the avant-garde as a fundamental phenomenon of 20th century art is loaded with fears and prejudices. On the one hand this period is naively glorified and mythicized, while on the other hand its abuses, compromises and failures are counted with bureaucratic pedantry to remind us that this magnificent delusion should not be repeated. Neue Slowenische Kunst - as Art in the image of the State - revives the trauma of avant-garde movements by identifying with it in the stage of their assimilation in the systems of totalitarian states. The most important and at the same time traumatic dimension of avant-garde movements is that they operate and create within a collective. Collectivism is the point where progressive philosophy, social theory and the militarism of contemporary states clash. The question of collectivism, i.e. the question of how to organize communication and enable the coexistence of various autonomous individuals in a community, can be solved in two different ways. Modern states continue to be preoccupied with the question of how to collectivize and socialize the individual, whereas avant-garde movements tried to solve the question of how to individualize the collective. Avant-garde movements tried to develop autonomous social organisms in which the characteristics, needs and values of individualism, which cannot be comprised in the systems of a formal state, could be freely developed and defined. The collectivism of avant-garde movements had an experimental value. With the collapse of the avant-garde movements, social constructive views in art fell into disgrace, which caused the social escapism of orthodox modernism and consequently led to a crisis in basic values in the period of postmodernism. The group Neue Slowenische Kunst defines its collectivism within the framework of an autonomous state, as artistic actions in time to which all other spatial and material procedures of artistic creation are subordinated. This means that the procedure of the deconstruction and analysis of past forms and situations functions as the creator of new conditions for the development of the individual within the framework of a collective. One of the aims of Neue Slowenische Kunst is to prove that abstraction, which in its fundamental philosophic component - suprematism - explains and expels the political language of global cultures from the language and culture of art, contains a social program adequate to the needs of modern man and community. The NSK state in time is an abstract organism, a suprematist body, installed in a real social and political space as a sculpture comprising the concrete body warmth, spirit and work of its members. NSK confers the status of a state not to territory but to mind, whose borders are in a state of flux, in accordance with the movements and changes of its symbolic and physical collective body.

Ljubljana, 1992