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Raša Todosijević

“The way in which an artist asks a question about art is a work of art.” (Raša Todosijević)

 

Raša Todosijević is one of the key Serbian and ex-Yugoslav artists who began his career within the circle of Belgrade conceptual artists in the early Seventies distinguished up to now by his uncompromising political-critical artistic stance.

The literal meaning of the question „What is Art?“ is confronted with the absence of its performative impact by way of the automatism of repetition, the indefinite recurrence of the same question which in Todosijević’s commanding speech stood for an (elocutionary) verbal act related to the question, which, nonetheless, exceeded its limits. The transmitter received his own message from the passive receiver – the other is just the decentralized place of the subject of speech, the medium for creating the circle of repetition, a mirror that reflects a Cartesian suspicion of the fundamental principals of the institution of art. The silent model that courageously submits to torture brings to memory the passively-masochistic attitude of a citizen who in a totalitarian regime loses his will and thus contributes to maintaining the repressive apparatus, whether being a victim or a witness. This ”to be heard-to-speak” (J. Derrida) turns Todosijevic into a kind of despotic phonocentric machine that serves as a general metaphor for the connection of a totalitarian discourse with the institution of art. But, since there’s no response on what art is, we become aware that the idea of the performance lies in the inversion of power relations within the art system. If semantics of a speech act includes part of its pragmatics, than Todosijevic’s aim is to empower the speech position of an artist who claims power to control his own discourse, depriving the art system of its authority to define art. About this performance Todosijevic has some time ago said: “My performance is not based on the wish to demystify anything, it rather seeks to irritate an individual by addressing his or her negative side in order that he or she becomes aware of it – your anger after the performance is that negative side of you.”

 

D.S.

1945, Beograd / RS, at that time Jugoslavija

 

Please follow this link for a selected bibliography available at the ERSTE Foundation Library
Jasna Tijardovic, Zoran Popovic and Rasa Todosijevic at Lutz Becker's exhibition 'Tate on Hot Bricks'in Student Cultural Center Gallery, Belgrade, 1976
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