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Branko Franceschi: Psychedelic Moving Images from Socialist Yugoslavia



David Weinstein talks to curator Branko Franceschi about the collection of films and music. Here's the text of the original press release:

Tune in Screening: Psychedelic Moving Images from Socialist Yugoslavia
Curated by Branko Franceschi

Sunday, October 2nd opening reception 6 - 9 pm
Through October 30th, Wednesday through Saturday: 11am to 6 pm and Sunday: noon to 6 pm
Stephan Stoyanov Gallery
29 Orchard Street
New York, NY

The Tune in Screening program focuses on film production and popular music created in Yugoslavia from mid 60s to mid 70s. It presents a variety of materials, predominantly a 75-minute loop of experimental film and rock music that exemplify the openness and permissiveness of Yugoslavia’s brand of socialism when incorporating culture from the capitalist West. The Tune in Screening program demonstrates how imports from the West had a profound effect on the local society, arts and, especially, the public visibility of this psychedelic lifestyle and popular culture.

The first half of the decade was marked by the highest GDP in Yugoslavia’s history and an opening of the country’s borders to all citizens for travel or work abroad. But towards the decade’s end, an economic decline and cracks in the monolithic state began to appear and would continue throughout the 70s. While on one hand, the state apparatus was supportive of some of the most radical and internationally recognized artistic manifestations of the era, such as New Tendencies Movement (1961 – 1973), GEFF – Genre Experimental Film Festival (1963 – 1970) and Music Biennale (1961 – ongoing) in Zagreb (Croatia), or BITEF, International Theatre Festival (1967 – ongoing) in Belgrade (Serbia), it was at the same time harshly repressive with crackdowns on demonstrators, the imprisonment of political opponents and cultural workers, bans on movies and periodicals promoting cultural and political ideas, and attempts to introduce Western-style democracy to the country. Nevertheless, the combination of these opposing policies served to create one of the most vibrant and culturally exciting societies of the era, featuring distinctive inventions such as the Self-management mode of Socialism and the Non-aligned Countries Movement, which together positioned Yugoslavia as something of a global phenomenon and leader.

The changes in Yugoslavia’s socialist society from 1966 to 1976 coincided and were closely intertwined with the complex political and social changes that were occurring globally. Yugoslavian socialism was greatly influenced by the transformative movements throughout the world. Notions of counterculture and social (r)evolution, when introduced in the local context, were used to promote its specific goals of softening the socialist rule, gaining more civil liberties, introducing higher life standards and more color into both everyday life and the accompanying pop culture.

In the process, great art was created. This program also features a selection of Yugoslavia’s pop and rock music classics to accompany the presentation of some of the period’s most significant artworks. These artworks, unlike the official state-sanctioned modernism on one side of the era’s aesthetic divide or its underground conceptual and neo-avant-garde counterpart, were boldly present in the everyday life of all citizens.

Films:

- Vladimir Petek, Times, 8 mm, b/w film, 4’, 1966
- Naško Križnar (OHO), 19th Nervous Breakdown, 8 mm, b/w film, 4’03’’, 1966 (featuring Marko and Marika Pogačnik)
- Ante Verzotti, Fluorescences, super 8mm, 4’2’’, 1967
- Ivan Martinac, Focus, 35 mm, b/w, 7’12’’, 1967
- Marjan Ciglić (OHO), Fulia Quanso, 8 mm, color, 5’39’’1967
- Marjan Ciglić (OHO), OU, 8 mm, color, 3’25’’, 1969/70
- Miroslav Mikuljan, Seisana, 8 mm, 16mm, b/w, 4’53’’, 1970
- Slobodan Šijan, Kosta Bunuševac in a Film About Himself, 8 mm, color, 15’, 1970
- Petar Trinajstić, Oh Fish, My Little Fish, 8mm, color, 3’33’’, 1973
- Ljubomir Šimunić, Gerdy, The Wicked Witch, 8 mm, color, 14’, 1973 – 1976

Visual Arts

- Marko Pogačnik (OHO), Rolling Stones, object painting, 1968
- Marina Abramović, Rhythm 2, 1974 performance documentation, super 8 mm, 2 screen projections, b/w, color, mute, (33’53’’ & 25’24’’), transferred on DVD

Music:

- Uragani: Shell (1967)
- Grupa 220: City (1967), Somewhere There Is Someone like You (1968)
- Josipa Lisac: My Life (1970), Evening at Luna Park (1973)
- Time: Song No 3 (1972), King Alcohol (1972), Truth Machine (1972)
- Korni grupa: Voice from the Coast of Color (1972)
- Indeksi: Tide (1973)
- Zdenka Kovačićek: Click Theme No 1 (1973, live with Nirvana)
 

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