„How to Understand New Art Practice“ is an illustrated English-Serbian guide to the Novi Sad New Artistic Practice, authored by Ljiljana Maletin Vojvodić and Dragana V. Todoreskov, and designed by Dejan Ilić. It was published by the NGO Art Box in 2021 with the support of Novi Sad 2022 ECoC.
ALTERNATIVE AND CRITICAL CULTURAL HERITAGE
The New Artistic Practice emerged in Novi Sad during the late 1960s and early 1970s, making it a unique phenomenon in the cultural history of the city. This alternative artistic practice, which incorporated visual arts, literature, linguistics, philosophy, and sociology, represents an urban, subversive, and critical cultural heritage. Students from various disciplines, such as literature, linguistics, and art history, gathered around the youth cultural institutions of Novi Sad at that time. They introduced a new sensibility to visual arts, literature, and film, challenging the prevailing cultural models and values. These artists sought new spaces for dialogue and freedom, questioned social and cultural realities, formed groups that blurred the boundaries between art and life, and moved away from traditional exhibition spaces like museums and galleries. They developed new artistic strategies, employing non-traditional forms of expression such as performance, body art, happenings, first-person speech, artistic actions, exhibitions and interventions in urban spaces outside of galleries, land art, visual poetry, arte povera, and more.
A HANDBOOK FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
The first chronology and historical analysis of events related to the New Artistic Practice were published by witness and participant Mirko Radojičić in the exhibition catalog of „New Art Practice 1966−78“ (Zagreb, 1978). Subsequently, art and literary theorists, critics, and curators began to explore this topic further. Important monographic publications and poetry anthologies featuring the authors of the New Artistic Practice were released. Papers and doctoral theses have been written about their work, individual artists have had their works collected, and retrospective exhibitions have been organized. Today, their artworks or documentation thereof can be found in private collections, as well as in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina in Novi Sad, the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade, and even the MoMA Museum in New York.
However, despite these efforts, the significance and role of the Novi Sad New Artistic Practice remain known mainly to a limited number of individuals within artistic and academic circles. Since the essence of the New Artistic Practice lies not only in the end result but also in the creative process, and since this form of art was marginalized partly due to some artists’ opposition to institutionalization, historicization, categorization, and commercialization of their own artistic practices, the general public, particularly young people, have not had the opportunity to learn about it and become familiar with its nuances. This art is not mentioned in high school textbooks nor taught in schools. Therefore, this bilingual illustrated manual has been designed for young people and the general public. Its purpose is to revive the urban artistic identity of Novi Sad and to place it on the cultural map of the former Yugoslavia as one of the centers of the New Artistic Practice. Additionally, it aims to provide a fresh perspective on the artistic past and contemporary art, establishing a connection with the neo-conceptual and post-conceptual artistic practices of contemporary authors from Novi Sad.
ART FOR „BEGINNERS“
This book does not serve as an analytical study, nor does it attempt to valorize or standardize the art it discusses. Instead, it serves as an introductory guide, providing young people with insights into the Novi Sad New Artistic Practice, its language, and the activities of individuals and groups involved. It has been written as a beginner’s book, intended to bridge the gap between traditional art forms such as oil paintings, sculptures, and rhyming couplets, and the ideas and language of non-traditional art media. Performance art, in particular, has faced criticism and challenges over the years, with claims that it is not art at all. New visual media have gradually gained acceptance within the institutional system in Serbia, largely due to the experiments of artists from the New Artistic Practice. While academic education has begun to acknowledge these forms of art through the work of the Visual Studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad, it has taken considerable time for museum institutions to fully embrace this type of artistic practice. Therefore, it is hoped that the revival of alternative art from the 1960s and 1970s will also contribute to a better understanding of contemporary art, which is often seen as incomprehensible, incomplete, or even frivolous.