Branislav Dimitrijevic

Free School for Art Theory and Practice

The Free School for Art Theory and Practice considers as the basis of its philosophy the concept that contemporary art and culture produce an excess of knowledge and experience, which can be recycled and used in broader social discourse, beyond their own primary context. The aim of the Free School is to increase the theoretical and practical arsenal of the local art scene based on active participation and dialogue in seminars, and also by analyzing artistic positions, critical aspects and the institutional system. With its name, the school marks community gatherings for people to meet with a view to exchange knowledge and learn from one another.
The school will function in the form of regular weekend seminars, held by invited curators, theoreticians and artists, allowing for the specificities of the contemporary Hungarian art scene and local discourses.

Application deadline for the third seminar: November 12, 2006
Send applications to:

Branislav Dimitrijevic (Belgrade, 1967) is art historian, writer and curator. He is Senior Lecturer at the School for Art and Design (VSLPUb) in Belgrade and the Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade. He received his formal education at the University of Belgrade (Faculty of Philosophy, BA in Art History) and at the University of Kent (MA in History and Theory of Art, with Prof. Stephen Bann). In 1999 he co-founded the School for History and Theory of Images, an independent educational project in Belgrade. He has been publishing essays on contemporary art and theory of art, film and visual culture. Most recent publications: International Exhibition of Modern art feat. A. Barr’s Museum of Modern Art (ed.), MOCAb, Belgrade, 2003; On Normality: Art in Serbia 1989-2001 (ed.), MOCAb, Belgrade, 2005. Most recent curatorial projects: Situated Self: Confused Compassionate, Conflictual (2005, with M. Hannula), Pavilion Yugoslavia (Biennale di Venezia, 2003, with B. Andjelkovic and D. Sretenovic), etc. He has been working on a PhD thesis on “Consumer Culture in the Socialist Yugoslavia” with Professor Milena Dragićević ešić at the University of Arts in Belgrade, and collaborated on a research project “Post-Communist Condition” with Boris Groys.

Seminar 1: Regarding “Over-identification” – Tactics of critical irony in art since the 1960s and their relevance today

With the break with the modernist paradigm in art in the 1960s, many art practices employed ambivalent tactics of entering a critical dialogue with issues of politics, ideology and identity in different societies. The historical examples may range from American pop-art to dissident tactics in art of the socialist countries in Eastern Europe. Also, in contemporary art of today these tactics developed either in ironical maneuvering of the attitudes of artists towards the art system or in activist tactics of cultural jamming. The term “over-dentification” has been introduced by Slavoj Zizek in his analysis of the phenomenon of Laibach and NSK in the early 1980s. This term is used only as a point of departure to discuss means of critical thinking of artists in the condition of liberal democracy which tend to incorporate almost every critical attitude in its “flawless” system. The seminar will be illustrated by historical and contemporary examples (equally from Western Europe as from art scenes in Turkey, countries of ex-Yugoslavia, Romania, Russia, etc) and students will be encouraged to critically re-think contemporary art practices they are already familiar with and to discuss their own tactics of resisting certain political trends.

Seminar 2: Is Modernity our Antiquity (or our Future)?
There has been a growing interest among contemporary artists into the world of modernity, its universalistic promise, its heroisms and catastrophes, in modernism as its cultural practice with its reduced but programmatic forms. There is a sense of nostalgia mixed with revivals of its radical potential. What is behind this interest? Is it a thorough conceptual switch of priorities in contemporary art? Is it just another post-modernist citation ground? Is it about contemporary disillusionments and not about history at all? Or is it again about the vision of future which was so essential for the dreams of modernity? Or is it simply the reaction to the general pessimism of new drained and tired generation as the artist David Malkovic calls it? Is it about fascination with aesthetics or about political statements?
The aim of the seminar is take examples of some contemporary artists dealing in their work with the issue of modernity and modernism, and especially to juxtapose interest in modernity in ex-socialist countries of South-East and Central-Europe with those in Western-Europe. The seminar will provide an ‘open box’ for all participants to add their examples of contemporary readings of modernity and modernism.

The Free School for Art Theory and Practice
Goals are:
- To examine the current phenomena of contemporary visual culture in artistic and curatorial practice;
- To enhance critical thinking and dialogue within the art field
- To define the role of art theory and art criticism, to analyse critical concepts and study the possibilities for their adaptation to different contexts
- To discuss the identity /role of the curator and the artist in an international context.

Subjects covered:
- The role of context in cultural production
- The interplay of theory and praxis
- The public domain between the institutional system and forms of self-organization
- Constructive interplay between curatorial and artistic practice

Target audience: Artists, curators, students and anyone interested in contemporary art

Dates and lecturers 2006
21 - 24 September, 2006
Barbara Steiner, director Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

19 - 22 October, 2006
Who What and for Whom (WHW) formation, Zagreb

23 - 26 November, 2006
Branislav Dimitrijevic, art historian, curator. Founder and lecturer of the School for History and Theory of Images, Centre for Contemporary Art, Belgrade

16 -17 December, 2006
Jens Hoffmann, artistic director, Insitute of Contemporary Arts, London

How to apply
Artists, curators, students, who undertake to prepare for and to take an active part in the seminars (as is relevant to the lecturers), are invited to send a letter of motivation.
One seminar may be attended by maximum 15 participants.
Application deadline for the third seminar: November 12, 2006 (for the IV. Seminar December 3, 2006)
Send applications to:

Planned Schedule
Thursday Public lecture by invited lecturer (s), afterwards discussion;
Friday-Sunday (Fri-Sat 10-13, 14-18 , Sun 10-13) seminar for the closed seminar group with the lecturer.

Attendance at the free school is free. On request we can help in organization of accommodation.