Ivana Bago: Yugoslav Fanonism in Three (Exhibitionary) Acts: 1950/1972/1989

Monday, 24 May 2021

In March 1950, Pallais de Chaillot in Paris, the home of the National Museum of French Monuments, became the site of the exhibition L’art médiéval yougoslave, the first large-scale official presentation of Yugoslav art in the West after WWII. Under the guidance of writer Miroslav Krleža (1893–1891), the project evolved from a small-scale presentation of Serbian and Macedonian medieval frescoes into polemical revelation of the lost “South Slavic civilization” and an assertion of Yugoslavia’s place in world history following its 1948 expulsion from the Cominform. The lecture will consider this exhibition as the prime case of Yugoslav Fanonism, a declaration of Yugoslav cultural and political autonomy vis-à-vis both the East and the West, which heralded Yugoslavia’s position in the Non-Aligned Movement in the following decade. Two other exhibitions – a conceptual curatorial intervention Postal Packages (Zagreb, 1972) and a pan-Yugoslav gathering of artists under the name Yugoslav Documenta (Sarajevo, 1989) – will be revealed as evidence of the persistence of such Yugo-Fanonist declarations, even in the radically altered historical conjunctures of the 1970s and the1980s. Together, the three exhibitions form a kind of dialectical triangle, a thesis, a negation, and a (failed) synthesis, illuminating the key points of Yugoslav historical destiny.