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Bates Museum of Art: Neue Slowenische Kunst

Explore the avant-garde world of the NSK art collective with this research guide, delving into their work, ideology, and cultural impact.

Introduction to Neue Slowenische Kunst

In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, several groups of Yugoslavian artists - the band Laibach, the visual art collective IRWINScipion Nasice Sisters Theater group, Noordung, New Collectivism and the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy formed the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) collective. They explore themes of fascism, nationalism, socialism, and art, through music, video, film, exhibitions, literature, graphic design, architecture, theater, and even public relations. NSK's interest in the aesthetic potentials amid waning socialism and surging capitalism introduced a unique iteration of postmodernism, termed the Retro-Avant-Garde. The group continues to practice to the present day, and their website can be found at https://nskstate.com/.

In 1987, after President Tito's death, NSK stirred controversy by winning a competition to create a Youth Day poster. Their design, later found to be Nazi-inspired, led to legal action but was ultimately dropped. This incident symbolized artists challenging a powerful regime, and Youth Day was never celebrated again as Yugoslavia later disintegrated. A short documentary, Youth Day / Dan mladosti, 1987, produced by DArt Documentaries, explains:

Related Books on Neue Slowenische Kunst and Yugoslavian art

A Selection of Articles on NSK

There has been quite a bit of academic and creative scholarship written on NSK. Here is a selection of articles that discuss the group's work, including some articles written by members of the group, such as Eda Čufer:

  • Bell, Simon. "Laibach and the NSK: Aestheticising the East/West Nexus in Post-Totalitarian Europe." Kultura (Skopje), vol. 3, no. 4, 2014, pp. 105-114. Available online: Permalink
  • Bell, Simon. "Laibach and the Performance of Historical European Trauma." Kultura (Skopje), vol. 3, no. 4, 2014, pp. 105-114. Available online: Permalink
  • Čufer, Eda. "I Was Hamlet-Cunning Scenes And Family Albums." Liminalities, vol. 12, no. 2, 2016, p. 1. Available online: Permalink
  • Erjavec, Aleš. "Neue Slowenische Kunst—New Slovenian Art: Slovenia, Yugoslavia, Self-Management, and the 1980s." Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition, 2022, pp. 135-174. Available online: Permalink
  • Gasparavicius, Gediminas. Art in the Image of the State: Neue Slowenische Kunst, the Irwin Group, and the Politics of Art in Slovenia, 1980-1995. 2011. Available online: Permalink
  • Gravenor, Natalie. "Post-Modern, Post-National, Post-Gender? Suggestions for a Consideration of Gender Identities in the Visual Artworks and Moving Images of Neue Slowenische Kunst." Acta Universitatis Sapientiae. Film and Media Studies, vol. 14, no. 1, 2017, pp. 175-196. Available online: Permalink
  • Menashe, Louis, Jasminka Udovicki, and Michael Benson. "Art, History and Politics in the Former Yugoslavia: An Interview with Michael Benson." Cinéaste (New York, N.Y.), vol. 22, no. 2, 1996, pp. 30-33. Available online: Permalink
  • Monroe, Alexei. Culture Instead of a State, Culture as a State: Art, Regime and Transcendence in the Works of Laibach and Neue Slowenische Kunst. 2021. Available online: Permalink
  • Orel, Barbara. "State, Transnational Citizenship and the Transformative Power of Art: The NSK State in Time." CLCWeb: Comparative literature and culture, vol. 22, no. 4, 2020. Available online: Permalink
  • Shukaitis, Stevphen. "Fascists as much as painters: imagination, overidentification, and strategies of intervention." The Sociological Review (Keele), vol. 59, no. 3, 2011, pp. 597-615. Available online: Permalink
  • "The Artists' Artists." Artforum international, vol. 54, no. 4, 2015, p. 105. Available online: Permalink
  • Šuvaković, Miško. "Between New Sensibility and Transgression: Slovenian Alternative Artistic Practices – OHO and NSK." Primerjalna književnost, vol. 43, no. 3, 2020, pp. 65-77. Available online: Permalink
  • Žižek, Slavoj, et al. "Why are Laibach and the Neue Slowenische Kunst not Fascists?" The Universal Exception, 2007. Available online: Permalink

Documentary and Videos on NSK

This video is a short archival clip of members of the band Laibach being interviewed on MTV in 1994. For more videos and music, see Laibach's YouTube channel, including recent releases.

In a 5 Questions interview from MoMA publication post, Eda Čufer, art historian and member of NSK, explores navigating art histories in Eastern Europe, emphasizing support for collaborative strategies.