• This Is Not My World: Art and Public Space in Socialist Zagreb
    Adair Rounthwaite
    University of Minnesota Press, 2024
    Adair Rounthwaite

Mladen Stilinović, The Ones Cut Out of the Crowd, 1976. b/w Photograph, crayon on cardboard, 27.56 x 17.32 inches. Courtesy Branka Stipančić

The book investigates Zagreb’s rich experimental art scene of 1975–85 and analyzes the live, interactive art events that young artists held in public spaces. In a period of instability for socialist Yugoslavia, these artists created dynamic events where they made and exhibited artworks, and performed actions that ranged from clandestine to exhibitionistic. Public space served more than a pragmatic function for artists wishing to skirt bureaucratic institutions: it was also often a central theme in works responding to the urban environment and material culture of Yugoslavia's “commodity socialism.” The book shows how this art exploited spaces ranging from shopping streets to urban beaches, and their concomitant associations with certain kinds of sociability, to critique the subject of the enthusiastic worker who was central to Yugoslav state ideology. That critique led in turn to a focus on questions of intimacy, generating dynamic and ambivalent relationships between the artists and their audiences.

Adair Rounthwaite is associate professor of art history at the University of Washington. She specializes in contemporary art with a dual geographic focus on North America and formerly socialist Europe. Her first book, Asking the Audience: Participatory Art in 1980s New York appeared in 2017 with the University of Minnesota Press, and received reviews in several journals of art history and performance studies. She has published articles on performance, participation, and public art in venues including Art Journal, TDR, Representations, and Third Text. Her current book project, This Is Not My World: Art and Public Space in Socialist Zagreb, is based on extensive research and interviews in Croatia and the surrounding countries. An article drawn from the book, entitled “Photography Against Reproduction: Željko Jerman’s My Year, 1977” is forthcoming in ARTMargins. Rounthwaite has been a student of the Croatian language for the past ten years.