(Conversation Series)


An insurgency of sick artists is organising to resist the global crisis of care, from bed and over the phone. In these days of compulsive overwork in the so-called creative economy, we’re all sick artists. Using ancient technologies of peer-to-peer care, a grassroots health monitoring and diagnostic system is emerging, practiced from beds and couches all over the world.

Cassie Thornton


The conversation series Vectors of Collective Imagination in Art is a space for discussion about self-organised art groups, ad-hoc and mythical-real collectives, as well as artistic infrastructures for the collective production of knowledge and the struggle for commons. The series consists of three conversations that will deal with the political economy of art collectives, socio-political engagement of art groups, as well as imagining the anti-systemic collective practices in the period before World War II, during the socialist experiment in Yugoslavia, the anti-Yugoslav period of the 1990s. and the present situation.

In the first discussion, Collectivity outside Art Collectives, we will discuss the (newly) established links between social movements and the arts, which are being articulated in the struggle against the financialisaton and privatisation of everyday life. Cassie Thornton, an activist and artist based in Canada, will talk about her artistic practice derived from experience with the Strike Debt (USA) and from Wiindo Debwe Mosewin - a feminist indigenous patrol in Thunder Bay, as well as about her new project Hologram which tries to organise sick (artists) into a healthcare support network. Tomislav Medak, a researcher and artist from Zagreb, will propose a different genealogy of the free culture movement, with references to the Pirate Care Syllabus project - a space for collective production, exchange and distribution of knowledge about (re)organising social reproduction.

In the conversation to follow, also called Art Groups and Socio-Political Engagement, we will discuss links between art groups and leftist movements, organisations and political parties before World War II and during the 1960s, as well as issues about political organising in art. Vida Knežević, an art historian from Belgrade, will talk about the illegal group Life (Život), active in the period between the two World Wars in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which was part of a revolutionary movement organised by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Jacopo Galimberti, an art historian from Italy, will focus on the work of Group N, which developed its collective artistic practice during the 1960s in the intellectual-political context of innovative Marxist thinkers – the operaista movement. Group N was simultaneously engaged with the New Tendencies - an international movement in art that gravitated around the Zagreb Gallery of Contemporary Art between 1961 and 1973.

The political economy of art collectives is the third in a series of discussions which will revolve around the influence of dominant economic models on the dynamics of work in art, ways of perceiving political economy in art and organising artists as cultural workers. Katja Praznik, a researcher from Slovenia who currently lives and works in Buffalo, New York, will tackle art as labour issues and the questions of the tactical advantages of such thinking for artistic organisation. Sezgin Bojnik, a researcher from Priština who lives and works in Helsinki, will deal with the role of art groups during the period of 'transition' in the former Yugoslavia. His focus will be on the art system and the specific relationship between art and ideology.

At a time when the whole world is going through a partial paralysis with unforeseeable consequences, the urgent question becomes how to (re)think the contemporary moment. This is not the first time that art has faced such a challenge. Global crises and crisis periods in the history of (post)Yugoslav societies have required artists to experiment with ways to rethink everyday life, world of art and artistic practice. Our small contribution in imagining the future is opening for new historical and artistic reflection on collective artistic practices from the recent and somewhat distant past, which itself has often faced similar challenges of rethinking and redistributing everything. How we articulate that history and what we learn from such artistic experiments is entirely up to us. One thing is clear; we can’t go back to ‘normal’.

Conversations Vectors of collective imagination in art are part of the project Art Organisation - a long-term international research project that deals with the analysis of artistic (self)organisation in the (post)Yugoslav region. The focus of this project is on self-organised art initiatives outside the mainstream. The project covers a wide historical field from Surrealism in the 1930s to the present day. During 2017, our work on the project began with interviewing participants and protagonists of the contemporary art scene in Yugoslavia. This work continues in 2018 and 2019, when interviewees were theoreticians and art historians, as well as artists who had realised their practice through group art work. The result of this research is an archive consisting of interviews, documentation of works of art and critical texts written during the project trough the program Fragments for studies on art organisations. In July, simultaneously with the series of talks, a collaborative research working group will meet online to analyse and review the materials created during the project. This working group will create a space for collective critical rewriting of the art history of the (post)Yugoslav cultural space and critical work with the generated archive. The online format of the upcoming events and sessions was selected due to the changed circumstances that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic and represents a kind of a challenge for all those involved in this process.



08.07.2020. at 7PM CET

Collectivity beyond Art Collectives

Cassie Thornton (USA/CA) and Tomislav Medak (HR/UK)

Moderator: Ana Vilenica

Cassie Thornton is an artist and activist from the US, currently living in Canada. She refers to herself as a feminist economist, a title that frames her work as that of a social scientist actively preparing for the economics of a future society that produces health and life without the tools that reproduce oppression— like money, police or prisons. She is currently the co-director of the Re-Imagining Value Action Lab in Thunder Bay, an art and social centre at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada. Her forthcoming book, The Hologram: Feminist, Peer-to-Peer Health for a Post-Pandemic Future, will be available this summer from Pluto Press.

Tomislav Medak is a doctoral student at the Coventry University’s Centre for Postdigital Cultures. His PhD is on political economy of technology and the planetary ecological crisis. He is also a member of the theory and publishing team of the Multimedia Institute/MAMA in Zagreb, a co-initiator of the Pirate Care project, and an artist in the performing arts collective BADco. With his colleagues at the Multimedia Institute/MAMA, since 2000 he has organised talks, conferences and exhibitions, and edited publications in the fields of political economy, tactical media and the commons. His own research interests are in technology, capitalist development and post-capitalist transition, with a particular focus on environmental crisis, political economy of intellectual property and unevenness of techno-science. At times, he also writes on theatre, dance and politics. You can find more about his writing and work at: https://tomislav.medak.click.


18.07. 2020. at 7PM CET

Art Collectives and Socio-Political Engagement

Vida Knežević (SR) and Jacopo Galimberti (I)

Moderator: Ana Vilenica and Darija Medić

Vida Knežević is an art historian, curator, cultural worker, member of Kontekst collective whose work is based on a process of connecting critical theory and practice, the field of arts and culture with wider social and political effects. From 2006 to 2010, she was working on the Kontekst Gallery project. From 2008 till 2010 she was teaching at the Advanced Vocational Studies School of Fine and Applied Arts in Belgrade. In 2008 she completed her MA studies at the Department of Art and Media Theory of the University of Arts in Belgrade, and in 2019. she completed her PhD thesis entitled „Theory and Practice of the Critical Left in Yugoslav Culture (Yugoslav Art Between the Two World Wars and the Revolutionary Social Movement)”. Since 2014 on, she has been one of the editors of the educational project and the left online magazine Masina.rs, where she deals with the relationship between cultural, art and media production, economy, politics and activism.

Jacopo Galimberti is a postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bologna. He has published extensively on the connections between art and politics in the twentieth century, in journals such as Grey Room, The Oxford Art Journal, Art Bulletin, and Histoire de l’Art among others. He is the author of Individuals against Individualism. Art Collectives in Western Europe (1956-1969) (Liverpool University Press, 2017), and co-editor of Art, Global Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Manchester University Press, 2019).


28.07.2020. at 7PM CET

Political Economy of Art Collectives

Sezgin Bojnik (KOS/FL) and Katja Praznik (SL/USA)

Moderator: Ana Vilenica and Darija Medić

Sezgin Boynik is a theoretician based in Helsinki. He completed his PhD on Yugoslav “Black Wave” cinema. He co-edited Nationalism and Contemporary Art: Critical Reader (MM & Exit, 2007), History of Punk and Underground in Turkey (BAS, 2008), Noise After Babel: Language Unrestrained (Spector Books, 2015, with Minna Henriksson). Recent publications include In the Belly of the Beast: Art & Language New York Project (Rab-Rab Journal Vol. 4, No. 2, 2017, with Michael Corris), Coiled Verbal Spring: Devices of Lenin's Language (Rab-Rab Press, 2018), and Free Jazz Communism (Rab-Rab Press, 2020). He is currently working on a project of translating Ilya Zdanevich's zaum play Yanko, Krul Albanskaya and on the collection of Yugoslav concrete and visual poetry to be published by OEI Press. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Rab-Rab Press in Helsinki (www.rabrab.fi).

Katja Praznik is an assistant professor at the University of Buffalo’s Arts Management Programme/Department of Media Study. She is the author of the The Paradox of Unpaid Artistic Labour: Autonomy of Art, the Avant-Garde and Cultural Policy in the Transition to Post-Socialism (Ljubljana: Sophia, 2016). Her new book Art Work: Invisible Labour and the Legacy of Yugoslav Socialism if forthcoming with University of Toronto Press in spring 2021. Her research focuses on labour issues in the arts during the demise of the welfare-state regimes, and has been published in various academic journals, such as Social Text, Historical Materialism, ČKZ - Časopis za kritiko znanosti, and KPY Cultural Policy Yearbook, and in edited volumes, among them in NSK From Kapital to Capital (MIT Press 2015), and Crisis and New Beginnings: Art in Slovenia 2005–2015 (Moderna galerija 2015). Before moving to the United States, she had worked as a freelance cultural worker in the Slovenian independent art scene. She was the editor-in-chief of journal Maska and was engaged in the struggles for improving working conditions of art workers at Društvo Asociacija.


Concept and moderation: Ana Vilenica is a housing activist, a researcher and theoretician of social movements, urban changes, housing and art.

Chat moderation and technical support: Darija Medić is a digital practitioner and educator, researching the field of identity correction//building and labyrinths of contemporary technical practices through the poetics of language, technology and art.

The conversation series Vectors of Collective Imagination in Arts will be conducted through the Zoom platform, within which the audience will have the opportunity to actively participate through a chat discussion. A link to the Zoom Conversations will be posted and shared with the interested audience just before the individual conversations.