*The artist as flâneur threads thoughtfully throughout curator Bassam El Baroni’s EVA International 2014. David Horvitz, Ingo Giezendanner (alias GRRRR), Ann Böttcher, share a tendency to walk and generate still and moving images. Similar to the implicit pairing of Patrick Jolley’s This Monkey (2009) with Hassan Khan’s The Dead Dog Speaks (2010), El Baroni has paired two other flâneur types: Neša Paripović’s N.P. 1977 (1977) with Catalina Niculescu’s Guest (2008) at the Kerry Group plant. While Niculescu’s is a more stilted and claustrophobic hike on the stone face of urbanity, in which each recorded episode is edited so the viewer misses out on the climax of the artist overcoming her chosen obstacles, Paripović is a stray dog; the cock of the walk. Speaking with Catalina Niculescu on the eve of the official opening of EVA14, the artist revealed to me that she never knew of Paripović film N.P. 1977, even though her obstacle ridden trek through London in Guest mirrors Paripović’s flânerie through Belgrade thirty-one years earlier. This mutual ignorance makes both of these artworks contextually independent and original expressions in time and place and politics. Furthermore, the curator’s role comes into plain sight in his pairing of these two works: a marriage by proxy.


How would it be if the shortcut was the right way – to go over all the obstacles? (Neša Paripović)1

Picture this. It’s the 1970s. The the socio-political fallout from the ’68 student protests still resonates East and West. Serbia (then Yugoslavia) is under a communist dictatorship (albeit a dictatorship with broader freedoms in science, art, and culture, than other autocracies in the Soviet bloc). President Tito creates student cultural centres throughout Yugoslavia; not to inspire experimental creativity beyond the conservatism of the Fine Art academies, but as a prevention measure against student ‘expression’ spilling onto the streets as collective dispute. Documentation is not in the cultural consciousness of the time, so most of the art produced in these student culture centres only exists in the memory of the artists, critics, curators and passers-by.2 This is truly Art made in the present, for the present. ‘Archive’ is not yet in the vocabulary. In this environment, creativity is a compulsive monster, trying to inject a human pulse into 1970s Conceptualism. In the capital, Belgrade, one such student culture centre produces a loose group of pulsing hearts – Marina Abramović and Braco Dimitrijević being the most recognisable to shortsighted Western eyes.

Married to Abramović for a short period during the ’70s, Neša Paripović is the most enigmatic artist of the ’70s Belgrade art scene; an environment that produces a period of art experimentation considered canonical in hindsight. Described by Georg Schöllhammer as the “ontologist”3 of the group, Paripović’s tendency was to reveal the human agent behind conceptualism’s curtain of slippery notation. In a small body of work, Paripović is the aloof actor, caught in the frame of Art, and whatever Art means to the individual making and observing it: the double-bind relationship between artist and viewer.

Installed in one of the warehouse at the Kerry Group plant, Paripović’s jocular narcissism is implied with the inclusion of his initials in the title of his magnum opus, N.P. 1977. In his mid-thirties at the time of filming, and dressed in a burgundy velvet suit (bellbottomed), pink shirt, sharp shoes, tousled blond hair, Paripović hops, skips and jumps – light-footed but purposely – through, over, down, up, across Belgrade’s modernist civic architecture. This is Parkour or freerunning without the effort. In moments of reprieve he smokes as if no one is watching. He’s all sex and cigarettes. The cocksure attitude to Paripović’s cruising, from urban centre to parkland and motorway periphery, peaks with one repeated gesture: a quick finger comb through his wavy locks during his episodic urban dances. With all the masculinity that is implied by ‘getting your leg over’, Paripović is doing just that to the viewer, and with a big smile on his face. I, for one, reciprocated!


1    [http://kunsthalltrondheim.no/en/event-en/nesa-paripovic-n-p-1977-3]

2    See Dr. Amy Bryzgel’s web archive for performance art in the east: [http://performingtheeast.com/]

3    Georg Schöllhammer, ‘An Ontologist Observes’, [http://www.springerin.at/dyn/heft_text.php?textid=1900&lang=en]


#3/ ‘Dear Neša Paripović’

NESA PARIPOVIC N.P. 1977 (1977)





NESA PARIPOVIC, N.P. 1977, film transferred to DVD, 22 mins., colour, no sound; stills: here

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