This Is Not My World: Art and Public Space in Socialist Zagreb

A public lecture with Adair Rounthwaite (University of Washington-Seattle)
Rounthwaite - Image for lecture (Photograph by  Fedor Vučemilović)
Željko Jerman lying on a piece of photopaper for one hour to produce a body print at the Group of Six Authors’ first exhibition action, held in the bathing area by the Sava River, May 11, 1975. Photograph by Fedor Vučemilović
Event Date & Time
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Event Location
115 Blegen Hall

269 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455

 PLEASE NOTE: This hybrid event will be livestreamed as a Zoom webinar to registered participants. However, due to limited staffing, we are unable to convene a virtual Q&A for Zoom attendees. We appreciate your understanding.
Newly published from the University of Minnesota Press, This Is Not My World analyzes a cohort of young artists based in Zagreb, in the former Yugoslavia in the 1970s and 1980s, who created provocative, playful art events in public space. They showed art in streets and squares, carried out performances, and engaged in conversation with passersby, who were by turns amused, irritated, and mystified by the insertion of highly conceptual art into the shared spaces of everyday life.This Is Not My World is both a study of the possibilities for experimental art to flourish in the highly regulated public spaces of state socialism, and a portrait of a tight-knit group of friends, collaborators, and lovers. It posits that a notion of intimacy is key to understanding the impetus for their art and the intervention they made in the late socialist public sphere. In this talk, Adair Rounthwaite will discuss the book’s genesis and methodology, with a focus on its contribution to the evolving field of contemporary global art history. 
About the author: 

Adair Rounthwaite is a specialist in contemporary art, with particular interests in performance, audience participation, conceptualism, institutional critique, and the relationship between art and urban space. Her work has a dual geographic focus in North America and in the former Yugoslavia and its successor states.

Her first book, Asking the Audience: Participatory Art in 1980s New York, appeared with the University of Minnesota Press in 2017. Asking the Audience revolves around the question of how audiences can exercise agency in participatory art, and the related historiographic problem of how art historians can recover those types of agency. The book takes up the case studies of art collaborative Group Material's Democracy and feminist artist Martha Rosler's If You Lived Here…, two projects held at the Dia Art Foundation in New York in 1988–89, which were early instances of the type of institutionally based participatory art now ubiquitous in contemporary art practice. Through her study of the visual, audio, and textual archives of these projects, affect emerges as key to understanding the agency that audience members exercise in a participatory artwork.

Rounthwaite's second book (and the subject of her talk) brings these interests in audience dialogue and the public sphere into a different geographic context. This Is Not My World: Art and Public Space in Socialist Zagreb is a study of a group of young artists (the Group of Six Authors and their circle) who in the 1970s and early 1980s created provocative art events in public city spaces in socialist Yugoslavia. The book analyzes how in 20th-century socialist Europe, public space could enable the exercise of personal creativity and the articulation of new identities, even as it functioned as a venue for the ideological assertion of the state. The book has been published with the University of Minnesota Press in 2024 and received publication grants from the Graham Foundation and the Kontakt Collection/Erste Foundation. 

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