Monday, November 30, 2020

Mladen Stilinović, Frizerie/Hairdressers (1975/2010) and My Sweet Little Lamb (1993/2009/2010).

Mladen Stilinović (1947-2016) was a Croatian artist who spent his artistic career based in Zagreb. He was a member of what is now known as the 'New Art Practice' in Croatia, and a founding member of the Group of Six Artists (1975-79). What distinguished the productions of these artists living under Yugoslav socialism was a new approach to artistic activity, use of new media, and their engagement with the idea of art as as "an integral part of the criticism of the social praxis, in other words, a revolutionary mechanism for the introduction of qualitative changes in the social praxis".(1) Stilinović's early works reflect his engagement with a variety of experimental media including film-making, language works and artists' books, all of them grounded in his interest in language. Addressing the areas that interested him in this early period he stated "My first impulses were poetry and everyday speech — ways in which politics contaminated language and the means to avoid it".(2) 

(1) Rasa Todoskijevic in Marijan Susovki's The New Art Practice in Yugoslavia 1966-1978, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, 1978, p. 3.
(2) Branks Stipancic, 'Living Means Never Having to Attend Court,' interview with Mladen Stilinovic, unknown source.

Frizerie/Hairdressers, 1975, 2010, Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, printed in Zagreb, ed, 200.

This accordion reflects Stilinović's interest in what was happening in the everyday life of the street and in the images and language people were putting up in the streets. In an undated interview with Sabina Sabolović, Stilinović speaks about this accordion, "I always look around on the street....Hairdressers for example, particularly kept up with the signs for hairdressing places since 1939 (I found out about this year later) up to 1977 when I did this little book. So through these hairdresser's signs, history could really be seen...I looked at adverts for restaurants with lambs on a spit, and compared them with car mechanics, who structured ads very differently...".

12 pages, single sided, individual pages 4.75" (height) x 6.5" (width) when fully open 6.6".

back page

My Sweet Little Lamb, 1993, 2009, 2013 Marabouparken, Stockholm

Mirroring his interest in film-making, the accordion format mimics film in its use of individual frames to construct something larger than each segment. Of this book, which was originally created using the most basic of media, pen and rubber stamps, Stilinović used a number of aphorisms that constitute Ludwig Wittgenstein's celebrated book Tractactus Logico-Philosphicus (1921). Stilinović's attraction to this book was no doubt Wittgenstein's own interest in language and his book's attempt to identify the relationship between language and reality, and his efforts to define the limits of science. It's interesting to note the contrast between the 'poor' materials Stilinović used in the construction of this book and the deep metaphysical nature of Wittgenstein's 'aphorisms' that constitute the heart of the book.

10 pages, single sided, individual pages 6" (h) x 3.75" (w) and when fully opened 3ft 1.5".

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