Before us are the cultural posters of the art collective New collectivism, created on various occasions, mostly during the golden times of cultural posters in Slovenia, i.e. from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. Most of the exhibited posters are theater posters, which represents a particularly strong group of cultural posters, and in addition to these, there are film and music posters as well as posters in honor of the artists Srečko Kosovel and Toulouse-Lautrec. All exhibited posters are linked to a specific cultural event, which they address in a unique way. If the client expects from an advertising poster, whether market or political, a central message conveyed as unambiguously as possible, inviting purchase or political support, the form of a cultural poster allows for a high degree of creative autonomy. A cultural poster is linked to a cultural event, but compared to an advertising poster, it can be much more open in its message. The quality of a cultural poster can actually be measured in the opposite effect to that of an advertising poster, i.e. in the fact that it does not close, narrow and limit, but rather opens up meaningful dimensions, so that it can even add them to the original event to which it invites. The New collectivism achieves an extraordinary creative breakthrough precisely in this, which sometimes surprised the client to such an extent that he even forbade the postering of an already printed poster, such as the poster for Caryl Churchill’s play Girl and a Half. The artistic director of SNG Drama did not understand the inclusion of the politician Winston Churchill, who is otherwise not the subject of the drama itself, on the poster, which contributed to the artistic excess of the poster compared to the drama.
New collectivism emerged in the 1980s as a division of the larger art collective Neue Slowenische Kunst, responsible for design. The famous American art theorist Arthur C. Danto called this time the time “after the end of history”, when every artist can do what he wants, and no style or artistic direction is more mandatory or more important than others. Therefore, since then, artists have been nomadically wandering through history and through various cultural environments, from high art to popular market culture, from folk to political culture, and they combine, recombine or reposition found elements in various ways. The technique of eclecticism is essential to New Collectivism. At the same time, in the 1980s, they, as a section of Neue Slowenische Kunst, were characterized by inspiration in the rhetoric of political propaganda, preferably that which is particularly effective in a given space. In doing so, they evoke collective memory, but they do not build it, but rather destroy it. Art here is not in the service of politics. The markers that are used usually do not lead to the markers they were associated with in the systems from which they were taken. Instead, the decontextualized elements enter into new, unexpected connections and form entirely new compositions of meanings or nonsense. When the logic of the original meaning breaks down and the original signifier withdraws, another meaning may be offered in its place, which may not have been associated with the given signifier in any known system, which may come from a completely different context, and which may not bring semantic sense. For it is not necessary that all meanings are always determinable and definitive. On the contrary, the New Collectivism posters are designed to be semantically slippery.
But it is most likely not a mere randomness of the selection of elements, but rather a deliberate branching, in which the apology of art is intertwined with allusions to various socio-political ideas or prohibitions. In this world of art, historical figures, pop art, sots art, ancient mythologies, avant-garde and classical art, socialist art, political ideologies, food, erotica and pornography meet – all at once. Although this is really about life in all its diachronic and synchronic complexity – or because of it – some of the hints about society that are offered for viewing are sometimes acceptable and sometimes unbearable.
Dr. Polona Tratnik
About the author
The author of the exhibition is New Collectivism, which was founded in 1984 as the graphic design department of the Neue Slowenische Kunst movement. Its members are Darko Pokorn, Roman Uranjek (IRWIN), Miran Mohar and Dejan Knez. The New collectivism uses the retroprinciple method, which means electrical interference with relevant motives and their reintropeation.
New collectivism emerged in the 1980s as a division of the larger art collective Neue Slowenische Kunst, responsible for design. The famous American art theorist Arthur C. Danto called this time the time “after the end of history”, when every artist can do what he wants, and no style or artistic direction is more mandatory or more important than others. Therefore, since then, artists have been nomadically wandering through history and through various cultural environments, from high art to popular market culture, from folk to political culture, and they combine, recombine or reposition found elements in various ways.